2014 Industry Canada: Connecting Canadians

In July 2014, Industry Canada announced a new $305M investment in digital infrastructure and services. According to the agency, this funding is “to 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.”

According to the government, the program “will rely on Internet service providers to identify projects to expand and enhance service to rural Canadians who have slower or no Internet access. Internet service providers will be invited to submit applications with their proposals for expanded or enhanced networks in under served areas in fall 2014. The program will provide non-repayable contributions toward the direct costs of selected projects.

Connecting Canadians is currently updating its service coverage maps to determine areas eligible for funding under the program. Preliminary mapping information shows underserved areas in all parts of the country. Your input will help ensure that the program is working with the most current coverage information.”

Who is eligible to apply for funding?

Eligible recipients will be legal entities, incorporated in Canada, that operate high-speed Internet infrastructure. These include Canadian private-sector companies, not-for-profit organizations, cooperatives, or consortia; provincial, territorial or publicly owned entities such as municipalities, county governments, regional county municipalities in Quebec, and Crown corporations; and First Nations’ organizations, such as First Nations Internet service providers.

Are there any special provisions for Aboriginal communities?

The program’s contribution limit is higher for projects that would serve Aboriginal communities. The program will provide up to 75 percent of eligible project costs, compared to 50 percent for the overall rural component of the program. In addition, projects that would serve Aboriginal communities may receive up to 100 percent of eligible costs from federal sources if they are able to obtain complementary funding from other federal departments or agencies.

Northern Component

Connecting Canadians is a key pillar of Digital Canada 150, a plan for Canadians to take full advantage of opportunities of the digital age. From its launch, in summer 2014, to 2017, the program will invest up to $305 million to extend high-speed broadband service to households across the country. The remote communities of Nunavut and Nunavik are entirely dependent on satellite communications for Internet service. Connecting Canadians includes a dedicated northern component that will ensure 12,000 households in Nunavut and Nunavik continue to have access to broadband services. The new funding will require that projects for the northern component improve quality of service delivering higher speeds of at least 3 Mbps. The call for applications to serve Nunavut and Nunavik, which will follow a process similar to the rural component, will be launched in the fall of 2014. The applications for the North will be evaluated separately and the successful projects must be completed by March 2016.

Additional information for applicants

Eligible service providers will be invited to submit an application to Connecting Canadians in response to a call for applications that will be issued in fall 2014. Projects that pass an initial screening and assessment at the program level will be presented to the Minister of Industry for decision. All applicants must be legally incorporated at time of submitting their application and demonstrate a long-term commitment to operate and expand broadband service.