FAQs for ISPs


About Connecting Canadians

What is the objective of Connecting Canadians?

Connecting Canadians is the Government of Canada's plan to bring high-speed Internet to 280,000 Canadian households. From the launch of Connecting Canadians in the summer of 2014, the Government will invest up to $305 million over five years to extend access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second (Mbps) to 98 percent of Canadian households, mainly in rural and remote communities.

Why is the Government of Canada funding high-speed Internet access?

High-speed Internet access is essential infrastructure for today's digital economy. It enables Canadians, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. That is why Connecting Canadians was identified as one of five pillars in Canada's digital economy strategy, Digital Canada 150. Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at affordable prices.

The significant up-front costs of telecommunications infrastructure can make it difficult for Internet service providers to generate a return on investment for extending service to rural and remote areas with lower population densities.

The Government of Canada has created Connecting Canadians so that citizens in rural, remote and northern parts of the country can enjoy access to commerce, employment opportunities and distance education.

What are the program's targets for high-speed Internet connectivity?

Connecting Canadians' objective is to increase high-speed Internet to target speeds of 5 megabits per second (Mbps) for most rural and remote areas and 3 to 5 Mbps in areas covered by the northern component of the program. These targets represent a meaningful improvement and will allow rural Canadians to use of cloud computing, stream video, save and transfer files, or participate in distance education programs online.

What is the high-speed Internet gap, and how did you determine it?

For the purposes of Connecting Canadians, the high-speed Internet gap is the gap between those areas of Canada that have access to high-speed Internet connectivity at 5 megabits per second (Mbps) and those that do not. For Nunavut and the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, the gap is determined by those areas that have access to high-speed Internet connectivity at 3 Mbps.

In the spring and summer of 2014, Industry Canada conducted an extensive mapping exercise to update its data on the current state of high-speed Internet connectivity across Canada. The information received from provincial and territorial governments, Internet service providers (ISP) and Canadians was used to define the geographic areas that do not have access to service at 5 Mbps (rural component).

ISPs were encouraged to check the information provided for their area and to provide feedback on the service available.

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 rural component of the program. In addition, projects that would serve Aboriginal communities could 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.

Does the program have regional allocations?

The program is divided into two components: a rural component that will expand high-speed Internet service to rural and remote areas across Canada and a northern component that will extend and augment capacity in northern communities in Nunavut and the Nunavik region of Quebec.

Within each component, there were no pre-determined regional allocations. Analysis showed that there are areas in need of high-speed Internet access in every province and territory, and projects have been approved in each province and territory.

How many households will have access to broadband as a result of the Connecting Canadians program? How many households will remain unserved?

The objective of Connecting Canadians is to provide high-speed Internet services to as many Canadian households as possible.

Connecting Canadians aims to provide broadband access to approximately 280,000 Canadian households that previously did not have access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second (Mbps).

Once the Connecting Canadians program is completed in 2019, and coupled with investment from the private sector, we anticipate that 98% of Canadian households will have access to high-speed Internet at speeds of at least 5 Mbps.

Which Internet service providers are eligible?

Can I apply for this program?

Connecting Canadians will provide funding to Internet service providers (ISP) to undertake selected projects that will expand coverage to underserved areas. The program issued a call for applications on October 15, 2014, which closed on January 12, 2015. Conditionally approved projects will be announced starting in spring 2015.

ISPs are encouraged to consider how they might extend and enhance their existing networks in the future.

What kind of projects will be eligible?

Projects that extend or enhance high-speed Internet networks in rural and northern communities to provide access to high-quality Internet services are eligible under the program. Only the direct costs of projects will be eligible (labour, materials, equipment, satellite capacity, travel).

The call for applications closed on January 12, 2015. Internet service providers interested in applying to the program were encouraged to review the application toolkit for more information on the application process and consult the map of national high-speed Internet coverage to determine whether they would be in a position to enhance their network's coverage in areas that currently do not have access to the Internet at 5 Mbps. These maps are currently being updated to reflect project approvals.

Are there restrictions on the kind of technology eligible under this program?

Connecting Canadians is technology neutral and a variety of wireline and wireless technology solutions, such as fibre, digital subscriber line (DSL), cable and wireless networks (ground-based and satellite) will be considered eligible technologies.

Your current broadband coverage and our maps

I believe I have more up-to-date information on high-speed Internet coverage in a specific area. How do I submit it?

You may provide your updated coverage information through the feedback form for Internet service providers.

How the application process works

Who could apply for funding?

Eligible recipients are legal entities, incorporated in Canada, that operate broadband infrastructure and meet the program's assessment criteria. These include private sector companies, provincial, territorial, and municipal entities, and not-for-profit organizations.

I would like to offer service in an area that is currently served at less than 5 megabits per second. How will Connecting Canadians allocate funding?

Connecting Canadians is divided into two components: a rural component that will expand high-speed Internet service to rural and remote areas across Canada and a northern component that will extend and augment capacity in northern communities in Nunavut and the Nunavik region of Quebec.

On October 15, 2014, Industry Canada launched a call for applications for eligible service, which closed on January 12, 2015. Projects that passed an initial screening and assessment at the program level were presented to the Minister of Industry for decision. Conditionally approved projects will be announced starting in spring 2015.

How much funding does the program provide?

There is no pre-set award value or range under the program. Connecting Canadians will provide contributions toward the total costs of projects, to a set maximum limit. For rural and remote locations, Connecting Canadians will provide contributions up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs. For very remote communities and Aboriginal communities, Connecting Canadians will provide contributions up to 75 percent of total eligible costs. In the case of the former, total federal funding may not exceed 75 percent of eligible costs and for the latter, total federal funding may not exceed 100 percent of eligible costs.

For all projects, the amount of each contribution is determined based on the assessed need to ensure that the proposed projects are successfully completed.

Will the program have partnerships with the provinces and territories?

Connecting Canadians is a federal program through which the Government of Canada is seeking to extend and enhance high-speed Internet coverage at speeds of up to 5 megabits per second (Mbps) to a targeted 280,000 Canadian households across the country. The program encourages potential applicants to partner with other funders in support of their projects. Applicants were invited to work with Industry Canada's regional offices to learn more about the partnership opportunities that may be available in their region.

How and when can I submit an application?

A call for applications was launched on October 15, 2014 and closed on January 12, 2015.

An archived copy of the detailed application guide and form is available. Potential applicants may contact the program office for clarification and guidance.

Application Form Q&As

Timeline of key dates

  • Summer 2014—We updated our maps of national broadband coverage with input from Canadians, Internet service providers (ISP), and provincial and territorial governments in order to determine the areas where there could be eligible projects.
  • Fall 2014—ISPs apply for funding
    Once we determined which areas did not have access at 5 Mbps, we issued a call for applications on October 15, 2014, for ISPs to get funding to build the needed wireless or wired infrastructure. The call for applications closed on January 12, 2015.
  • Spring 2015—Projects selected
    Applications to Connecting Canadians are underwent a competitive national process. Successful projects delivering high-speed Internet solutions while ensuring value for money will be announced starting in spring 2015.
  • 2015—Projects begin
    Once projects are approved, ISPs build the new infrastructure required to extend and enhance their broadband coverage.