FAQs


About Connecting Canadians

What is Connecting Canadians?

The Government of Canada 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 and make the most of the digital economy, not matter where they live.

Through the Connecting Canadians program, the Government of Canada will increase high-speed broadband coverage. Connecting Canadians’ objective is to provide at least 280,000 households in rural and remote regions of the country with high-speed, broadband Internet access, so that Canadians can make the most of the digital economy no matter where they live.

The Government is investing in broadband infrastructure to address gaps in the delivery of high-speed Internet at speeds of at least 5 megabits per second (Mbps) in rural and remote communities across the country. The program also has a dedicated $50 million northern component targeting remote, satellite-dependent communities in Nunavut and the Nunavik region of northern Quebec.

What is the objective of Connecting Canadians?

The Connecting Canadians program’s objective is to provide at least 280,000 households in rural and remote regions of the country with high-speed, broadband Internet access, so that Canadians can make the most of the digital economy no matter where they live. The program is now closed to new applications. Selected projects are now underway and it is expected that Connecting Canadians will exceed its target and extend or enhance 5 Mbps broadband Internet access to approximately 300,000 households across the country by 2019.

In Budget 2016, the Government announced an investment of up to $500 million over five years for a new program to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities. Investment in quality broadband networks will extend access to innovative services that improve education, healthcare, productivity, and local quality of life. Further program details will be announced in the coming months.

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

Innovation, Science and Economic Development is working to support competition, choice and availability of services, and foster a strong investment environment for telecommunications services to keep Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy. Increasing high-speed broadband coverage can help unlock the tremendous potential of our country’s rural and northern regions and ensure that Canadians can make the most of the digital economy no matter where they live. High-speed Internet access is essential infrastructure for today's digital economy, as it enables Canadians, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

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 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) in rural and remote areas, and 3 to 5 Mbps in areas covered by the northern component of the program with a target of 280,000 households. These targets represent a meaningful improvement and will allow rural Canadians to use cloud computing, stream video, save and transfer files, or participate in distance education programs online.

In addition, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s independent telecommunications regulator, is currently undertaking a review of telecommunications services in Canada, including Internet, and the Commission’s role in ensuring the availability of affordable basic telecommunications services for all Canadians. Further details about this proceeding can be found on the CRTC’s website.

Were there any special provisions for Indigenous communities?

The program's contribution limit is higher for projects that would serve Indigenous communities. The program provided up to 75 percent of eligible project costs, compared to 50 percent for the rural component of the program. In addition, projects that serve Indigenous 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.

Does the program have regional allocations?

The program is divided into two components: a rural component to expand high-speed Internet service to rural and remote areas across Canada and a northern component to 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. Projects have been approved in each province and territory.

How did the program encourage partnerships with the provinces and territories?

The program worked with provincial and territorial government partners to identify opportunities for complementary funding of Connecting Canadians projects. Program officials also encouraged potential applicants to partner with other public and private funders in support of their projects, and to work with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's regional offices and regional development agencies to explore the partnership opportunities in their respective regions.

How much funding does the program provide?

There was no pre-set award value or range under the program. Connecting Canadians could provide contributions toward the total costs of projects, to a set maximum percentage. For rural and remote locations, Connecting Canadians provided contributions up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs. For very remote communities and Indigenous communities, Connecting Canadians provided 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.

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

Connecting Canadians aims to provide high-speed Internet services to as many Canadian households as possible. Its target is to provide broadband access to 280,000 Canadian households that previously did not have access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second (Mbps). The program is now closed to new applications. Selected projects are underway and it is expected that coupled with investment from the private sector, Connecting Canadians will extend or enhance 5 Mbps broadband Internet access to approximately 300,000 households across the country by 2019.

Where did Connecting Canadians projects get approved?

A list of announced Connecting Canadians projects is published. Please note that additional projects will be added to this list once their contribution agreements are finalised and project announcements have been made.

What exactly is "broadband" Internet?

Broadband is Internet service that is always on (as opposed to dial-up, where a connection must be made each time) and offers higher speeds than dial-up service. Your current connection is broadband if you do not use a dial-up modem to connect to the Internet.

In Canada, broadband service refers to download speeds of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater. Even if Internet service providers are providing broadband service in your area, they may not provide coverage to 100 percent of households. If you do not have access to broadband, you may wish to contact the Internet service providers that offer services in your area to determine if or when high-speed Internet will be available to you. To see which ISPs currently provide service in your area, enter your address in our searchable maps.

Why did Government fund Internet service providers?

The Government recognizes that there are significant up-front costs to build or expand broadband infrastructure in rural and remote areas with smaller populations. ISPs cannot generate a return on investment for extending service into many parts of the country.

That is why the Government of Canada partnered with Internet service providers (ISP) and selected projects that can be delivered with some government support. These projects will expand and enhance service to rural Canadian households with slow or no Internet access. To help with up-front costs, the Government is providing non-repayable contributions toward a percentage of the one-time costs of selected projects.

How do I find out if there is a Connecting Canadians project near me?

To see which ISPs currently provide service in your area, you can enter your address in our searchable maps. The maps will also show you whether there is an announced Connecting Canadians project in your area.

The program is designed to benefit Canadians living in rural and northern areas that do not currently have access to high-speed Internet at 5 Mbps.

What can I do if I don't have access to high-speed Internet, but no projects have been approved in my community?

Internet service providers (ISP) may choose to increase outreach to consumers in your area to inform them of new Internet services available. You may wish to contact the ISPs that offer services in your area to determine if or when high speed Internet will be available to you. You can also enter your address in our searchable maps to see if a Connecting Canadians project is funded in your area.

In Budget 2016, the Government announced an investment of up to $500 million over five years for a new program to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities. Investment in quality broadband networks will extend access to innovative services that improve education, healthcare, productivity, and local quality of life. Further program details will be announced in the coming months.

For ISPs

As an ISP, I would like to offer service in an area that is currently served at less than 5 megabits per second?

Thank you for your interest in the Connecting Canadians program. It is now closed to new applications. Selected projects are now underway and it is estimated that Connecting Canadians will extend or enhance broadband Internet access to approximately 300,000 households across the country by 2019.

The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is working on the design of the new broadband program announced in Budget 2016. Further details of this program’s parameters will be announced in the coming months.

There are other Government of Canada programs which may be used to fund broadband projects For example, broadband infrastructure is an investment category under Infrastructure Canada’s New Building Canada Fund, and broadband projects to serve Indigenous communities may also be funded through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC) First Nations Infrastructure Fund (FNIF).

How and when can I submit an application?

Thank you for your interest in the Connecting Canadians program. It is now closed to new applications. Selected projects are now underway and it is estimated that Connecting Canadians will extend or enhance broadband Internet access to approximately 300,000 households across the country by 2019.

The call for applications closed in January 2015. The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is working on the design of the new broadband program announced in Budget 2016. Further details of this program’s parameters will be announced in the coming months.

To be notified of broadband program announcements, please e-mail us with the subject line “Request to be added to ISP notification list.”

Who could apply for funding under Connecting Canadians?

Eligible recipients were 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.

How did the application process work?

Internet service providers interested in extending or enhancing broadband connectivity in areas that had no or slow Internet access were invited to submit an application to the Connecting Canadians program. Completed applications were due in January 2015 and the announcement of conditionally approved projects began in spring 2015.

Applicants were asked to propose projects in areas where they can reach households that currently do not have Internet access or have slower access.

Projects underwent a two-stage review process. Projects were first screened for eligibility, with successful projects proceeding to a more detailed assessment stage. Selected projects were those that best met the objectives of the program. The program is now closed to new applications. Selected projects are underway and it is estimated that coupled with investment from the private sector, Connecting Canadians will extend or enhance 5 Mbps broadband Internet access to approximately 300,000 households across the country by 2019.

What kind of projects were eligible?

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

How did you determine which areas would receive funding?

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

Within each component (i.e. rural and northern), there were no pre-determined regional allocations.

Connecting Canadians coverage maps, updated in 2014, showed that there were areas in all parts of the country that could potentially benefit from enhanced Internet access. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada received proposals from all provinces and territories.

Connecting Canadians provides funding to Internet service providers (ISP) to undertake selected projects that will expand and enhance coverage to areas that do not have Internet access at speeds of 5 megabits per second.

The call for applications closed in January 2015. Projects underwent a two-stage review process. They were first screened for eligibility, with successful projects proceeding to a more detailed assessment stage. Selected projects were those that, together, best met the objectives of the program. Projects were approved in all provinces and territories.

Were 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) were considered eligible technologies.

I have a Connecting Canadians contribution agreement. Where can I get a copy of your guides, forms and templates?

Access the Recipient ToolKit, including recipient guides, forms and templates.

If Connecting Canadians is no longer taking applications, does the Government of Canada have any other programs that can fund broadband projects?

The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is working on the design of the new broadband program announced in Budget 2016. Further details of this program’s parameters will be announced in the coming months.

There are other Government of Canada programs which may be used to fund broadband projects For example, broadband infrastructure is an investment category under Infrastructure Canada’s New Building Canada Fund, and broadband projects to serve Indigenous communities may also be funded through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC) First Nations Infrastructure Fund (FNIF).

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.

For communities without access to broadband at 5 megabits per second (Mbps)

How do I get broadband Internet service in my area?

Connecting Canadians does not provide Internet service directly to consumers. Rather, the program is providing funding to selected Internet service providers (ISPs) to invest in wireless and wireline Internet infrastructure in areas of the country that previously did not have access to broadband Internet services. To search for Connecting Canadians projects and ISPs who currently provide service in your area, enter your address in our searchable maps.

When might broadband Internet be available in my area?

Internet service providers (ISP) make the decision to offer high-speed Internet in your area. The goal of Connecting Canadians is to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote areas that currently do not have access at speeds of 5 Mbps and to ensure access at speeds of 3 to 5 Mbps in Nunavut and Nunavik.

Connecting Canadians is funding selected ISPs to invest in wireless and wireline Internet infrastructure in areas of the country that previously did not have access to high-speed Internet services. ISPs will work to put the proposed infrastructure in place once their contribution agreements have been signed.

Canadians currently without 5 Mbps service are encouraged to contact local Internet service providers to discuss the possibility of extending high-speed Internet access to their area. The final decision to offer high-speed Internet in a given area rests with individual ISPs.

To search for Connecting Canadians projects and ISPs who currently provide service in your area, enter your address in our searchable maps.

Where is your interactive broadband service map?

The interactive national broadband maps have been updated with new coverage data and are now published on the Connecting Canadians website.

What kind(s) of broadband service could I get?

The Connecting Canadians program is technology neutral. Internet service providers could use a variety of technology solutions to deliver increased speeds to your community, such as: fibre, digital subscriber line (DSL), cable or wireless networks (ground-based and satellite). The type of infrastructure available within a community will depend on its size, local topography and other factors.

How much will this new service cost?

The Government recognizes the importance of access to affordable broadband services for Canadians living in rural and remote regions of our country. Applications from Internet service providers underwent a competitive national process. Projects with a lower monthly cost for subscribers rated higher on this criterion than projects with a higher monthly cost for subscribers.

I am happy with my current Internet service. Will I be required to subscribe to high-speed?

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.

The decision to subscribe to faster speeds remains with the customer.

For communities with access to broadband at 5 megabits per second (Mbps)

The site says that my area is served by Internet service providers, so why don't I have access?

Although Internet service providers (ISP) provide high-speed Internet service in your area, they may not be providing coverage to 100 percent of households. Coverage within a community will depend on its size, local topography and other factors. You may wish to contact the ISPs serving your area to tell them you're interested in subscribing to faster speeds. To search for Connecting Canadians projects and ISPs who currently provide service in your area, enter your address in our searchable maps.

I can't afford the high-speed Internet in my area. Will Connecting Canadians help?

The Government recognizes the importance of access to affordable broadband services that meet the everyday needs of Canadians living in rural and remote regions of our country. The goal of Connecting Canadians is to bring high-speed Internet to areas that do not have access at speeds of 5 Mbps. Applications from Internet service providers underwent a competitive national process, and affordability was a key consideration. Projects with a lower monthly cost for subscribers were rated higher than projects with a higher monthly cost for subscribers. To search for Connecting Canadians projects and ISPs who currently provide service in your area, enter your address here.

I want faster Internet than is currently offered. Will Connecting Canadians help?

The goal of Connecting Canadians is to extend and enhance reliable access to high-speed Internet at speeds of at least 5 Mbps to rural and remote areas and to ensure access at speeds of 3 to 5 Mbps in Nunavut and Nunavik. The decision to offer faster speeds is made by your local Internet service providers (ISP). It is possible that your local ISPs offer services that are faster than the one you are currently using.

To search for Connecting Canadians projects and ISPs who currently provide service in your area, enter your address in our searchable maps.

Other

A tower is going up in my neighbourhood. I don't like it.

The location of antenna towers is important for all radio services, including cellular and wireless internet, in order to provide the quality of service the public expects. Radio waves are limited in how far they can travel while still being reliable. As demand for wireless services continues to increase rapidly, so does the need for more towers. In order for these services to work properly the towers must be located in the areas where the demand is. This often means near residential neighbourhoods.

It is important that local governments play a central role in identifying potential locations for new antenna towers in their communities by working with the wireless industry. Municipalities must ensure that local residents are at the centre of the process that helps determine the location of a new tower in their community. It is incumbent on the wireless industry to ensure local concerns are taken into account.

More information on tower siting procedures can be found by contacting your local land-use authority or visiting www.ic.gc.ca/towers.