CRTC launches the Broadband Fund to improve Internet and mobile wireless access

News release

First call for applications targets Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and satellite-dependent communities

June 3, 2019 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The CRTC today launched its first call for applications for the Broadband Fund. The CRTC is accepting applications for projects in the Canadian territories and satellite-dependent communities, where there is a great need for improved broadband Internet and mobile wireless services. The Broadband Fund will provide up to $750 million over five years to support projects in underserved areas.

According to the latest data, in the Canadian territories, no households have access to a broadband Internet service that meets the CRTC’s universal service objective and 72% of major roads are not covered by LTE (Long-term evolution or 4G) mobile wireless service. The digital divide is also evident in satellite-dependent communities across the country where there is no terrestrial connectivity.

Applicants that have at least three years’ experience deploying and operating broadband infrastructure in Canada may apply for funding for projects to build or upgrade access and transport broadband infrastructure or mobile wireless networks. Applicants must invest financially in their project and demonstrate that it would not be viable without the support of the Broadband Fund.

Other criteria, along with detailed information on how applications will be assessed, can be found in the Application Guide. Applications must be submitted using the CRTC’s form by October 3, 2019.

The CRTC will announce the selected projects from the first call for applications in 2020. A second call open to all regions in Canada will be launched this fall.

Quotes

“I am happy to announce that the CRTC is now accepting funding applications to improve Canadians’ access to broadband Internet and mobile wireless services in all satellite-dependent communities in Canada, and in the territories. Closing the digital divide to enable all Canadians to participate fully in the digital economy is of paramount importance.  We are beginning by initially targeting the territories and satellite dependent communities where the need is great and will quickly address other regions later this year. We look forward to receiving and approving high-quality projects for Canadians living in underserved areas.”

-  Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO, CRTC

Quick facts

  • The CRTC’s universal service objective for fixed Internet access service is that all Canadians have access to at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload, with an option of unlimited data.

  • The universal service objective for mobile wireless services is that all Canadians have access to the latest generally deployed mobile wireless technology (currently LTE). It should be accessible in homes, businesses and along major transportation roads.

  • The CRTC’s Broadband Fund is designed to complement private-sector investments and public-sector initiatives.

  • Up to 10% of the annual total will be provided to satellite-dependent communities that do not have any terrestrially based telecommunications facilities.

  • Satellite-dependent communities are located in the territories, in the northern parts of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and in parts of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

  • A comparative selection approach will be used to evaluate and select projects for funding, which will be conducted in a three-step process: eligibility, assessment and selection.

  • Special consideration may be given to projects proposing to improve service in Indigenous or official-language minority communities.

  • The CRTC’s goal is to achieve 90% coverage by the end of 2021 and 100% as soon as possible within the next decade.

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