Canada gets public-funded connectivity rollouts galore

23 Mar 2021

Rogers Communications has announced a five-year CAD300 million (USD240 million) public-private partnership with the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, to bring reliable wireless connectivity to 99% of Eastern Ontario’s residents and businesses. Rogers will invest over CAD150 million in the project, with the federal and provincial governments each investing CAD71 million and the remainder coming from the Eastern Ontario administrations, to eliminate mobile connectivity gaps for the 113 municipalities and Indigenous communities in the region, as well as deliver consistent voice call coverage on 11,000km of roadways. Rogers will build more than 300 new cellular towers and upgrade another 300-plus existing towers over five years for the project, with work on the infrastructure expansion expected to begin in spring 2021 and to continue through 2025.

Separately, the Governments of Quebec and Canada yesterday announced details of their Operation High Speed plan to connect 150,000 homes still without high speed internet access in various regions of Quebec, via total public investment of CAD826.3 million. The operators receiving funding separately announced their rollout plans, some of which are listed below:

Cogeco Connexion agreed to carry out 13 high speed internet network expansion projects in several regions of Quebec, in collaboration with the provincial and federal governments. representing an investment of approximately CAD240 million, of which CAD208 million will be government-funded. 54,000 homes and businesses will be connected to Cogeco’s internet services via the project, expected to be completed by September 2022.

Xplornet Communications announced that it will carry out seven projects in partnership with the Government of Quebec to deploy 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) internet services to a total of more than 23,000 homes and businesses via deployment of 3,200km of fibre linking rural communities. The provincial government will contribute CAD84.4 million toward the fibre broadband rollouts. Construction will begin in the coming weeks and is expected to be completed by the end of September 2022.

Bell Canada announced that it will expand high speed fibre internet services in Quebec in partnership with the federal and provincial governments as part of the Operation High Speed initiative, covering 30,908 homes and businesses in nearly 100 Quebec communities by September 2022.

Telus is receiving CAD26 million in government funding towards expanding its ‘PureFibre’ network to cover 25,000 additional premises in Eastern Quebec ‘by the end of 2022’. With the additional rollout, Telus says its fibre broadband network will pass 99% of all households in its operating territories within the region.

Videotron is also participating in the Operation High Speed project, aiming to connect an additional 37,000 households in Quebec by October 2022. The cableco added that the regions to be served by Videotron will be confirmed shortly.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced the award of CAD57.7 million from the CRTC Broadband Fund to seven fibre transport network expansion projects to build a combined 1,400km of fibre in northern Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, serving 15 rural and remote communities representing 6,500 households and 55 public institutions. Four parties are implementing the projects – Kativik Regional Government (Quebec), Cogeco Connexion (Ontario), Nexicom (Ontario) and Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (British Columbia) – who will also provide wholesale access to the infrastructure. The CRTC Broadband Fund has to date committed CAD156.5 million to improve broadband services for 107 communities representing approximately 24,500 households. The Fund will provide up to CAD750 million over five years.

The Government of Canada has also announced funding worth CAD686,000 to expand broadband internet services for Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. The project, which also involves CAD85,000 investment from Proximity Fiber, will connect 346 underserved rural households to high speed internet.