Feds Give Extra $10.3 Million to Bell for NL Internet Project [Update]

The federal government has added more money to bring high-speed internet to rural and remote areas, particularly in Newfoundland.

Through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), on March 24, 2022, the governments of Canada and Newfoundland jointly announced a $22 million investment, with Bell Canada to deploy high-speed internet. This project is set to benefit 1,000 Indigenous households in six communities of Newfoundland and Labrador, namely Hopedale, Makkovik, Nain, Natuashish, Postville, and Rigolet.

Now, it seems the original internet project funding wasn’t enough to finish it on time, or the estimate wasn’t accurate enough.

Yvonne Jones, representing Minister Gudie Hutchings, unveiled an extra federal contribution of $10.3 million to the project today. That’s an extra 47% added to the original project’s $22 million investment about 17 months later, or $32.3 million to bring internet to 1,000 homes.

“This additional funding will help ensure the successful completion of the project and that households in these Indigenous communities get connected to high-speed Internet,” said the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada release on Tuesday.

The federal government wants high-speed internet access for 98% of Canadians by 2026, and universal coverage by 2030.

“Internet is no longer just a convenience but a vital need. Our dedication to this cause shines through our goal to encompass 98% of Canadians in the high-speed internet bracket by 2026. The additional investment announced today emphasizes our focus on rural Newfoundland and Labrador, ensuring reliable internet for over 1,000 Indigenous households in six distinctive communities,” said Hutchins in a statement.

“The added funds herald easier online education, increased business productivity, and stronger community ties throughout Nunatsiavut,” added Tom Evans of the Nunatsiavut Government.

“Bell is proud to partner with the Government of Canada and the Nunatsiavut Government to deliver reliable, high-speed Internet access to the communities of Rigolet, Postville, Makkovik, Nain, Hopedale and Natuashish,” said the telecom.

Update August 15, 1:20pm PDT: When asked why the budget had increased, a spokesperson for ISED told iPhone in Canada in a statement, “in an effort to let Canadians know as soon as possible what high-speed Internet and mobile services are coming to their area, UBF projects may be announced while final assessments of the project scope are ongoing.”

“Following the initial announcement of this project in partnership with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Nunatsiavut Government and Bell, it was determined that due to the remote nature of these communities, additional funding was needed to ensure the success of the project,” said the spokesperson in an email to iPhone in Canada.

“The cost of this project including the additional funding is in line with costs in other very rural areas of Canada where existing infrastructure is lacking, areas that are less densely populated, and distances to get equipment in place are much greater,” concluded the spokesperson to iPhone in Canada.

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