In this region, we have suffered through over-priced slow-speed internet for a long time. When the pandemic hit, our internet got worse while the price got higher for many people, thanks to massive overage charges. Many constituents sent screenshots of their miserable internet speed test results. Others sent me copies of their unbelievable phone or home internet bills. High-speed internet quickly has become a top priority for constituents in Simcoe—Grey and I made it a top priority of mine.
I wrote to the Minister of Rural Development demanding action. I rose in the House of Commons multiple times calling for a plan. I was in touch with the major providers pushing for expanded services and to help those having troubles with their bills. Thanks to pressure from Canadians and from my colleagues and I demanding action daily in the House of Commons, we got some progress.
On November 9th, the government announced the addition of $750M to the already existing $1B Universal Broadband Fund. It also announced a fast-tracking of the program to connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2026, whereas the existing fund had a goal of 2030. It also announced a streamlined application process for households.
Here are some quick facts:
- Demand for speeds and data have jumped 40-60% during COVID-19.
- 50/10 Mbps (download/upload) is the benchmark for “high-speed internet.”
- 2 million homes in Canada lack this speed.
- Only 41% of rural Canadians have it.
- Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) commits to connect 98% of Canadians by 2026.
- Newest investment by Canada is an additional $750M to the existing $1B in the UBF.
- There are three streams:
- Rapid Response Stream
- High-impact Projects
- Mobile Internet Projects
- Rapid Response Stream (RRS) projects can include things like “on premises” equipment, such as antennae.
- There is $150M set aside for RRS projects.
- RRS projects must be “ready to go” to provide service within one year.
- $5M is maximum allowed for an RRS projects, which focus on connecting households.
- High-impact Projects are larger and focused on large areas with multiple households.
- Mobile Internet Projects are largely focused on very remote Indigenous areas.
- There is a rolling intake and a streamlined application process.
The deadline to apply for funding is January 21st.
To find out more and apply online go to: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/00016.html