Over 10,100 households in northern communities to have access to improved broadband Internet service

News release

CRTC Broadband Fund to contribute $72 million to selected projects in northern Manitoba, Yukon and the Northwest Territories

August 12, 2020 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Today, the CRTC announced the first five projects that will receive funding from the Broadband Fund to improve Internet access services to more than 10,100 households in 51 communities, the significant majority of which are Indigenous. 

The Broadband Fund will provide $72 million to:

  • Broadband Communications North for a satellite project in northern Manitoba, and
  • Northwestel for four projects, including two in Yukon (one satellite and one fibre) and two in the Northwest Territories (one satellite and one fibre).

The selected projects all serve communities with broadband Internet access services that do not currently meet the universal service objective. The projects in Yukon and the Northwest Territories will provide speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload with unlimited data to close to 26% of the households in those two territories. There will be a total of 316 km of new fibre installed to connect many communities in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

In five satellite-dependent communities in northern Manitoba, residents will have access to speeds of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload with unlimited data, which is a significant improvement over the service that is currently available. In addition, the CRTC expects that this project is an interim step, as Broadband Communications North has plans to offer improved services in the future.

Prior to receiving funding, recipients must complete a statement of work setting out the details of each project, including schedules and costs, which must be approved by the CRTC. It is anticipated that construction for most projects will start in the spring of 2021.


“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need for reliable communications networks to navigate everyday life, as many Canadians were challenged by poor Internet connections. Today’s announcement marks a key milestone toward closing the digital divide. This initial funding from the CRTC Broadband Fund will improve access in the North and have a positive impact on many communities. We recognize, however, that too many regions across the country are still underserved. The assessment of the applications we received following our second call for applications is a high priority.”

Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC

Quick facts

  • Details of each project (such as the communities to be served, services to be offered, the CRTC Broadband Fund’s contribution and the project’s total cost) can be found in the media backgrounder.

  • Once projects are completed, recipients must provide broadband Internet access services at a price committed to in their application that is no higher than services offered in a major urban centre or community in the same province or territory. Prices cannot be higher than what was committed to by the applicant for at least 5 years.

  • Certain projects submitted to the first call of applications, including those for Nunavut, have been deferred to the second call for applications. The remaining projects from the first call for applications are no longer being considered as the first call for applications is officially closed.

  • Applications were evaluated based on many factors, including their technical merit, financial viability, the level of community consultation and involvement, and the amount of funding from other sources – both public and private.

  • The CRTC Broadband Fund will provide up to $750 million over five years to support projects that improve broadband Internet access services in underserved areas in Canada. It is designed to complement private-sector investments and public-sector initiatives.

  • In June 2019, the CRTC issued a first call for applications targeting the territories, as well as satellite-dependent communities across Canada, where there is a great need for improved broadband Internet access services.

  • In November 2019, the CRTC issued a second call for applications for projects to improve broadband Internet access services across Canada. The CRTC received 593 applications requesting more than $1.5 billion in total funding. The CRTC has started the evaluation process and will announce the selected projects as soon as possible.

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

  • In 2019, 42.6% of rural households had access to broadband Internet access services offering 50 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload, and 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 expects fixed broadband Internet access service to be available in 90% of Canadian homes and businesses by the end of 2021 and 100% as soon as possible.

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