Following a competitive tendering process, the provincial government of Manitoba has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xplornet Communications to connect more than 125,000 unserved or underserved Manitobans to reliable, high speed internet services. The announcement on the Manitoba government website stated that Xplornet will provide broadband services to nearly 30 First Nations and approximately 270 rural and northern communities. Additionally, the agreement will serve 350 communities with cellphone access.
Under the agreement, the provincial government will make surplus fibre-optic capacity available to Xplornet across Manitoba. The province owns thousands of kilometres of fibre cable via Manitoba Hydro, with much of the network’s capacity currently unused, while the utility operator also owns tower infrastructure. The announcement noted that access to Manitoba Hydro’s fibre and towers will greatly reduce Xplornet’s capital investments and speed up the expansion of broadband and high speed cellular services in rural and remote communities, with rollouts expected as early as this autumn. The government, Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Hydro Telecom are collaborating to finalise the contract in the coming weeks.
Xplornet CEO Allison Lenehan declared: ‘Xplornet looks forward to collaborating with the government of Manitoba and accelerating our facilities-based network investment plans to deliver improved speeds and unlimited data plans at affordable prices to rural Manitoban homes and businesses.’