Canada Finally Launches Universal Broadband Fund for High-Speed Internet

The federal government today announced an extra $750 million towards the Universal Broadband Fund, which aims to connect more communities with high-speed internet.

The announcement was made today by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, noting the total investment of $1.75 billion will “connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026, with the goal of connecting all Canadians by 2030.”

There’s also $150 million ear-marked for rapid response funding that will prioritize quick projects.

Trudeau also detailed a $600 million agreement with Canadian satellite company Telesat for low earth orbit internet for rural and northern regions of Canada. The service will likely compete against Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink low earth orbit internet, recently approved by the CRTC.

“Now more than ever, Canadians need reliable access to high-speed Internet as we work, learn, and communicate with our family and friends from home. With today’s announcement, we are continuing to bring faster Internet access to every part of our country, helping businesses grow, creating new jobs, and building a better Canadafor everyone,” said Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, in a statement.

Byron Holland, president and CEO at CIRA, reacted to the announcement by emailing iPhone in Canada the following statement:

“We’re pleased to see the government launch its long-awaited Universal Broadband Fund. Since the country pivoted online in March, internet users in rural, remote and Indigenous communities have been crying out for better access. The good news is that today’s announcement goes beyond the budget 2019 promises, with the government spending more money to get more Canadians online, sooner. We’re also pleased to see the new fund balancing shovel ready, quick-win projects, with longer-term investments in our digital infrastructure. Going forward, we urge the government to develop a measurement framework that ensures publicly-funded projects actually deliver the speeds they promise so that rural and remote residents don’t continue to be left behind.”

Canada will also invest up to $50 million available to support mobile projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples. High-speed Internet is defined by the government at 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds.

It remains unclear if the federal government will be able to handle the scope of the Universal Broadband Fund project, as numerous communities throughout Canada still do not have reliable, consistent high-speed internet–and it will be challenging to keep track of everyone asking for funding.

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