Government launches Connecting Canadians program to bring high-speed Internet to remote communities

From - See the Industry Canada announcement at the end of this story

Canada launches plan to improve Internet in remote areas

Tue Jul 22, 2014 - By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Tuesday invited remote communities across the country that lack high-speed Internet access to make a claim on some of the C$305 million ($284 million) it plans to spend over the next three years to upgrade access.

But consumer group was skeptical of the move, skewering both the Conservative government and Canada's telecom companies for failing to finish earlier projects on time or to the scale required.

The government's Connecting Canadians plan aims to deliver high-speed Internet - judged to be speeds faster than 5 megabits per second (5 Mbps) - to 280,000 households that it says sit below that line.

Critics say, however, that the government's minimum "high-speeds" are not fast enough for users to participate in a number of data-intensive activities, including video conference calls.

The plan "will still leave many Canadians struggling to catch up with our global counterparts when it comes to broadband access, reliability, and speed," said Steve Anderson, executive director of

The country's telecom regulator wrote to BCE Inc, Telus Corp, and Manitoba Telecom Services last month, concerned they would miss an end-August deadline to complete remote access projects already underway.

The regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), said it is considering what penalties to impose if the deadline is missed.

Telus said it is committed to its obligations but that in less than 30 of the 159 communities it needs more time to implement complex transmission assets via logging roads or helicopter. BCE and Manitoba Telecom were not immediately available to comment.


Industry Minister James Moore likened the launch to such pivotal moments in the country's history as the completion of a transcontinental railway and the opening of the Northwest Passage.

He said areas eligible for funding will be made public later this year and companies invited to pitch for connection projects.

The move is part of a long-promised comprehensive plan for digital communications and commerce that Ottawa says will also strengthen online privacy protection and beef up cybersecurity.

Many of the underserved areas shown on a government map are in the Prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and farther west in British Columbia. Connection would mean some 98 percent of Canadian households would be linked to online services by 2017, the government said.

"Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians, whether they live in urban centers or remote regions of the country, have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at the most affordable prices possible," Moore said in a statement.

An OECD broadband report released on Tuesday ranked Canada quite highly with over 70 percent of households connected, while falling behind France, the United Kingdom, and well behind the United States on wireless penetration.

The new infrastructure being funded can be either wired or wireless, the government said.


Industry Canada Press Release

Government launches program to bring high-speed Internet to an additional 280,000 Canadian households

Connecting Canadians program will provide 98 percent of Canadian households in rural and remote regions of Canada with greater access to broadband Internet

July 22, 2014 - Ottawa - Industry Canada

From the last spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway to the opening of the Northwest Passage, Canada has worked ceaselessly to meet the great challenge of overcoming our vast distances and forging bonds between communities and regions to unite the country. In today's digital economy, Canadians live in an increasingly connected world where access to the Internet is essential to create jobs, realize economic opportunities, and link Canadians to online services as well as far-off family members and friends.

Industry Minister James Moore today announced the launch of Connecting Canadians-the Government of Canada's plan to bring high-speed Internet to 280,000 Canadian households currently without Internet or with slower access. Between now and 2017, the Government will invest up to $305 million to extend access to broadband Internet at speeds of 5 megabits per second (Mbps) to 98 percent of Canadian households, mainly in rural and remote communities. In the weeks ahead, Canadians and Internet service providers (ISP) are invited to visit the new Connecting Canadians website to offer their input on communities that could be eligible to receive funding.

This $305-million investment will provide incentives for the private sector to invest in wireless and wireline Internet services in areas of the country that previously did not have access to high-speed Internet services. This will create thousands of new investment opportunities by breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship and connecting businesses in rural areas to the rest of Canada.

Quick facts

  • Connecting Canadians delivers on the Harper Government's commitment in Economic Action Plan 2014 to bring high-speed Internet to an additional 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote regions of the country.
  • The maps on the Connecting Canadians website were developed to obtain feedback from Canadians, ISPs, and provincial and territorial governments across the country to identify those communities that are most in need of investment for greater access to high-speed Internet.
  • Information about communities considered in need and eligible for funding will be made public this fall, followed by a call for applications from ISPs.
  • Companies interested in participating in Connecting Canadians will be invited to submit applications for projects this fall. The first projects are expected to be announced in spring 2015.


"As we move toward Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, our government is proud to launch a new program that will connect 280,000 Canadian households to high-speed Internet. Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians, whether they live in urban centres or remote regions of the country, have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at the most affordable prices possible."

- James Moore, Minister of Industry

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Jake Enwright
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Industry

Media Relations
Industry Canada