Canada budgets up to CAD6bn for universal high speed internet

22 Mar 2019

In its 2019 budget, Canada’s federal government has committed to offering 95% of homes and businesses internet access at download/upload speeds of at least 50Mbps/10Mbps by 2026, rising to 100% by 2030, in line with targets of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The government estimates that by 2021 around 90% of Canadians will be covered by 50Mbps/10Mbps services, but highlights that this leaves about 1.5 million households underserved.

To support the universal high speed broadband plan, the federal budget earmarked CAD5 billion-CAD6 billion (USD3.75 billion-USD4.5 billion) in rural broadband investment over the next ten years, including:

• support through the Accelerated Investment Incentive to encourage greater investments in rural high speed internet from the private sector

• greater coordination with provinces, territories and ‘federal arm’s-length institutions’ such as the CRTC and its CAD750 million rural and remote broadband fund

• CAD1.7 billion in new investments in the ongoing Connect To Innovate programme, and the launch of a new Universal Broadband Fund that will focus on extending backbone infrastructure to underserved communities (for the most difficult-to-reach communities, funding may also support last-mile connections to homes and businesses)

• under the new Universal Broadband Fund, the government will look to secure advanced, new low-latency Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity, launching a process in spring 2019 to bring reliable high speed internet access to even the most hard-to-reach rural and remote communities

• new investments by the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) which will seek to invest up to CAD1 billion over the next ten years, and leverage at least CAD2 billion in private capital, to increase broadband access for Canadians.