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Universal Broadband Fund: Application guide

About the program

In coordination with existing federal connectivity programs, the Universal Broadband Fund supports broadband infrastructure projects bringing high-speed Internet to rural and remote households in areas that lack service of at least 50/10 Mbps. The program also supports mobile projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.

In June 2019, the Government released Canada's Connectivity Strategy, with the objective of connecting Canadians to Internet speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps no matter where they live. As identified in Canada's Connectivity Strategy and confirmed by the 2019 CRTC Communications Monitoring Report, there is a significant connectivity divide between urban and rural Canada. In 2018, only 41% of rural households had access to high-speed Internet at 50/10 Mbps, compared with 98% of urban homes, limiting their ability to participate in the digital economy and their potential for economic development.

Since that time, the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the fact that high-speed Internet access is a necessity for all Canadians to be able to work, learn, and communicate, no matter where they live.

The $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund is a key component of Canada's Connectivity Strategy, and, combined with other federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and private sector investments, will work toward ensuring that all Canadians have access to the services they need to participate in the digital world. It has been designed to meet the needs of rural and remote communities across Canada, and is consistent with Rural Opportunity, National Prosperity: An Economic Development Strategy for Rural Canada, the Government's roadmap to ensure these communities remain strong and resilient.

The Universal Broadband Fund builds on previous broadband programs delivered by Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada and other federal investments, and seeks to maximize progress towards connecting all Canadian households with affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet as quickly as possible.

This guide has been developed to assist potential applicants to the Universal Broadband Fund. It provides information about the requirements of the program, how applications will be assessed, and how to apply to the Universal Broadband Fund.

Applicant toolkit

In addition to this guide, ISED has developed a number of tools to help applicants prepare their Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) submissions:

Pathfinder services

ISED also provides pathfinder services so that applicants have all the necessary tools to build partnerships, find sources of funding, and navigate the application process. These services include:

Contact us

To access these tools and services, and for more information on this program, please visit the UBF website.

You can also contact program staff as follows:

Telephone: 1-800-328-6189
E-mail: get-connected@canada.ca

Additional accessibility options are described later in this guide, under Submitting a UBF Application Package.

Confidentiality, proactive disclosure and transparency requirements

Any information in the application that, in the applicant's opinion, is of a proprietary or confidential nature must be clearly marked by the applicant as "Proprietary" or "Confidential" on each relevant item or page or in a statement covering the entire application. No commercially confidential information which is submitted will be disclosed unless otherwise authorized by the applicant or required to be released by law.

Information provided by applicants may be accessible under the Access to Information Act.

ISED may share information in an application with provincial and territorial governments or other federal funding partners to improve national coordination and bilateral decision-making related to broadband and mobile funding.

Once projects are approved, as part of the Government of Canada's policies to ensure transparency and accountability, ISED is required to proactively disclose project information when it is in the public interest to do so. This may include but is not limited to open access pricing, work progress and the like.

Additional disclosure, milestone reporting and transparency requirements can be found in recipient Contribution Agreements, UBF templates, and on the Treasury Board of Canada website.

Although information remains confidential under the above-mentioned conditions, any document or content submitted as part of the UBF application process shall be deemed and remain the property of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Program requirements

UBF applicants must meet the following program eligibility requirements to be considered for funding. Applications that do not meet all of the requirements outlined below may not be assessed.

Eligible applicants

An Eligible Applicant is:

  1. A corporation, either for profit or not-for-profit, that is incorporated in Canada;
  2. A Canadian provincial, territorial or municipal entity;
  3. An Indigenous entity including :
    • a profit or non-profit organization run by and for First Nations, Métis, or Inuit peoples;
    • a band council within the meaning of section 2 of the Indian Act;
    • an Indigenous government authority established by a Self-Government Agreement or a Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement;
  4. A public sector body that is established by statute or by regulation or is wholly owned by a province, municipal or regional government which provides services to communities; or
  5. A partnership, joint venture or consortium that is composed of parties identified in (a), (b), (c) and/or (d) above;

And, that:

  1. Builds, owns and operates broadband infrastructure; or
  2. Enters into a contractual arrangement with an entity identified in (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) above to design, build, own and operate broadband infrastructure.

Federal entities, including Crown Corporations, are not eligible recipients.

Eligible activities

The UBF supports projects that extend or enhance household access to high-speed Internet services in areas with speeds less than 50/10 Mbps, and/or mobile projects which primarily impact Indigenous peoples. Funding for these projects is currently available until March 31, 2027.

Broadband projects

To be eligible for contributions under the UBF, broadband project proposals must:

Mobile projects benefiting Indigenous peoples

To be eligible for contributions on eligible costs under the UBF, mobile projects benefiting Indigenous peoples proposals must:

Eligible areas

Eligible areas are those identified by ISED's Availability Map as having less than 50/10 Mbps service.

The Availability Map represents available broadband services down to the 250 metre road segment level. To produce this map, ISED used demographics and road file information from Statistics Canada, combined with information from Internet service providers. More details about this data is available on the National Broadband Data Information page. The data presented on the map is regularly updated as new information becomes available.

To facilitate the submission of applications in eligible areas, ISED has developed the Eligibility Mapping Tool. Using this tool, an applicant can create or upload its project coverage on top of the Availability Map. Applicants must use the tool to verify that their project is targeting eligible areas and to generate their project coverage in the format required for submissions to this program.

Areas identified on the Availability Map as currently having access to Internet service speeds of 50/10 Mbps or better are not eligible for funding under this program. Any elements or areas of a project that propose to overbuild existing services will be removed from the final project, in the event it is selected, and in any event projects proposing to overbuild existing services to any degree will generally be assessed less favourably relative to competing proposals that do not. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact program staff regarding the need to update information concerning the representation of coverage by speed on the Availability Map in advance of submitting an application.

Mobile projects benefiting Indigenous peoples should target Indigenous communities currently not served at 4G LTE that are identified as such on ISED's Availability map, unserved roads within or leading to Indigenous communities or unserved portions of major roads and highways that are deemed strategic for Indigenous socio-economic development or for public safety purposes.

ISED is committed to working with all partners to close the digital gap in Canada. Where ISED is notified by a province, territory, the Canadian Radio-telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Infrastructure Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, or an Internet service provider that an eligible area on the Availability Map is now covered or in the process of being covered at 50/10 Mbps speeds or with mobile service, that area will no longer be eligible.

For issues relating to specific broadband services shown on the Availability Map, including the quality, the update or the correction of specific data, please consult Annex 4.

Eligible technologies

Under the UBF, applicants may deploy the technology of their choice, including wired and fixed wireless solutions, but all projects will be assessed in the same way in terms of program requirements, benefits and objectives.

To consistently and fairly assess the capabilities of proposals employing wireless technologies, the program will evaluate the relative capabilities of proposals using the methodology described in the Communications Research Centre's (CRC) Technical Report — Capability Evaluation of Fixed Wireless Access Systems to Deliver Broadband Internet Services.

For mobile services benefiting Indigenous peoples, this includes different types of technologies and infrastructures able to deliver 4G LTE services or better.

Eligible costs

Eligible costs under the UBF program are the relevant and reasonable expenses required to carry out the eligible activities to which they relate. Eligible costs will be costs for the deployment of broadband infrastructure, such as purchases of hardware and software, equipment, leases of satellite capacity, salaries and benefits, and fees for associated contracted services related to the build of the network.

Note:

Eligible expenses for regular programming include, but are not limited to, the following:

Ineligible costs would include (but are not limited to):

Project funding

Applicants must clearly indicate all sources of funding for a project and demonstrate that these funds are required to support total project costs. In preparing the project budget, applicants must fully cost their entire project to include all relevant eligible and ineligible project costs, as described above.

UBF funding

Funding under the UBF must only be used to support eligible costs, as outlined above, that are reasonable, measurable, needed and necessary to complete the project.

Funding should be requested based on the minimum level of program support required to ensure that the project proceeds within the proposed time and scope. The maximum amount of funding that an applicant can request for a broadband project is up to 75% of the total eligible costs, or up to 90% of the total eligible costs for projects targeting very remoteFootnote 1 areas, satellite-dependentFootnote 2 and/or Indigenous communitiesFootnote 3. The maximum amount of funding that an applicant can request for a mobile project benefiting Indigenous peoples is up to 90% of the total eligible costs.

When proposing a project that is comprised of various components as described above (e.g., a combination of rural and very remote or Indigenous communities, or a combination of broadband and mobile elements), the maximum contribution will be established based on the eligible expenses of each component of this specific project. Template 2: Detailed Budget is set up to assist applicants in determining the maximum sharing ratio and amount that an applicant can request for a project.

Note: The program reserves the right to determine the amount of funding for each project. Even if an application is selected by the Minister, an applicant may not get the full amount requested from the program. The program will take into account overbuild with existing coverage and overlap with other applications or projects selected by other federal or provincial programs, level of service improvement, needs and financial capacity of the applicant, value for money and consideration of the impact on the overall budgetary envelope for the UBF program.

Other funding

Wherever possible, the UBF will seek to leverage other sources of funding to make the most efficient use of public funds and to maximize the program's impact on household connectivity and mobile coverage benefiting Indigenous peoples. Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to submit financial plans that include additional funding partners, such as provinces, territories, municipalities, other federal agencies and departments, or the private sector to ensure that projects are well-financed and require the minimum program funding necessary. Other sources of funding could include financial assistance (e.g., grants, forgivable loans), as well as applications for financial assistance which are still pending.

All projects will have a stacking limit of up to 100% of eligible project costs. This means that total public funds (Canadian/ provincial/ territorial / municipal government) in the form of grants, contributions, implicit subsidies, subsidized loans, forgivable loans, investment tax credits or any other tax credits cannot exceed 100% of total eligible costs.

Large scale projects co-funding

Canada needs a combination of projects to solve our connectivity challenge — large and small, regional and community based, driven by large ISPs and by local companies and communities. To advance large scale, high-impact projects, ISED is looking for partners such as the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to co-fund transformative initiatives in terms of results or scope, or both. These projects, which will have to submit the same application package and be subject to the same requirements as those detailed in this guide, will also be assessed taking the following considerations into account:

Large scale projects are to be completed by March 31, 2026 at the latest.

Assessment criteria

The program's assessment of projects is designed to deliver projects offering the greatest value for Canadians in terms of extending robust, affordable broadband service to underserved households. The program will ensure that projects from a wide variety of applicants across Canada can be considered. Ultimately, the Minister will select projects that best meet the objectives of the program.

Applications will be assessed using a three-stage assessment process:

Stage 1

Eligibility screening

Stage 2

Essential criteria

Stage 3

Comparative criteria

Eligibility screening

Applications will first be screened to ensure they meet the program's requirements. At the screening stage, the assessment will determine whether:

Note: The fact that a project is screened as eligible does not guarantee that it will be funded. All eligible projects are subject to a comprehensive assessment process, which may or may not result in a positive funding decision.

Essential criteria

Applications deemed eligible will be subsequently assessed against essential criteria. At this stage of the process, the program will examine the sustainability of the proposed technology; the reasonableness of the implementation plan; and the financial potential to maintain the infrastructure and services on an ongoing basis for five years after the project is completed. The applicant must demonstrate that:

Technology

The applicant must demonstrate the appropriateness of the chosen technology — it must be able to deliver reliable speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps to residential households and/or mobile services with 4G LTE as a minimum technology. This analysis will be based on criteria including, but not limited to, the proposed network information, the equipment list, the logical network diagram, and the geographic network map.

Further, the sustainability of the chosen technology, over both the short- and long-term, will be taken into consideration. Projects will be assessed to ensure that the proposed networks will remain usable and serviceable at least five years after the project's end.

Applications employing current, widely-adopted technologies are all expected to pass this criterion. Projects proposing to use obsolete or end-of-life technologies may fail to meet the requirements for this criterion.

Project management and sustainability

The objective of this criterion is to assess the ability of an applicant to successfully implement a project on time and within budget, as well as how the resulting network will be sustained once in operation. Applicants will need to describe how they, alone or in partnership, are prepared to implement, manage, and operate the proposed broadband network. If multiple applicants are involved in a project, the application must describe the roles and responsibilities that each applicant will have in managing the project, and if applicable, indicate whom among the parties will retain ownership of the network assets, who will be responsible for building the network and who will be responsible for operating the network.

The applicant and, if applicable, co-applicants, must demonstrate that the project will be delivered through strong project management, financial control and technical development skills. Where weaknesses exist, remedial measures should be explained.

The Financial Forecast template will be used to assess the financial viability of the project and to understand what revenues and other income will be generated to operate the network over the longer term. Minimally, applicants must demonstrate that they will have sufficient financial resources to operate their network for 5 years.

In addition, a condition of receiving funding is that successful applicants will be required to make available broadband service(s) at the price(s) specified in their proposal for a minimum of five (5) years from the project completion date.

For mobile projects benefiting Indigenous peoples, applicants should explain how they intend to maintain services in zones where mobile subscriptions to mobile services could be scarce due to the density of population.

Comparative criteria

Those applications that pass the essential criteria will then undergo an assessment using comparative criteria. The aim of the comparative assessment is to ensure that projects of various sizes and in various regions are considered as those being the best able to meet the program objectives based on the availability of program funding.

Co-funding and scalability will be given increased emphasis as comparative criteria.

Co-funding

As specified above, the UBF will seek to leverage other sources of funding, where possible, in order to maximize value for money and the program's overall impact on household connectivity. Where it is possible to do so, projects including additional funding partners, such as provinces, territories, municipalities, other federal agencies and departments, or the private sector will be assessed more favourably. Co-funding is strongly encouraged for large scale, high-impact projects.

Scalability

Consistent with Canada's Connectivity Strategy, the UBF's 50/10 Mbps target is a minimum, and projects that are capable of delivering or scaling to higher speeds will be assessed more favourably. Consideration of scalability will include the relative timeliness, additional cost and necessary technical limitations.

Mobile and wireless project scalability includes additional user capacity (i.e., the number of potential subscribers and available data capacity) as well as user speeds. Limitations linked to the need for spectrum should be indicated.

Affordability

Projects that offer lower retail pricing will be assessed more favourably. Proposed pricing will also be compared to the range of prices, by region, as reported in the CRTC's Communications Monitoring Report.

Open access to networks and passive infrastructure

Projects that construct and provide open access to more Points of Presence (PoPs), and/or offer lower prices to access these PoPs, will be assessed more favourably. Projects that offer open access to last-mile infrastructure, though not required, will also be assessed more favourably.

Applicants for mobile projects should explain if and how their infrastructure will be made available to third parties.

Applicants owning passive infrastructure that do not undertake any action to make it more promptly accessible to third parties will be assessed less positively than others. Applicants requiring access to third parties' passive infrastructures, and who are able to demonstrate a commitment of speedy collaboration with said third parties, could be assessed more positively.

Community and/or rural economic development

For broadband, projects that, in addition to household connectivity, can demonstrate an expected impact on community and/or rural economic development will be assessed more favourably. This includes, without limitation, any expected impact on:

Comprehensiveness

Consistent with Canada's Connectivity Strategy, large scale projects should be comprehensive and not leave households unconnected, favouring complete coverage of the targeted areas and with contiguous regions.

Other benefits

In cases where an applicant can demonstrate additional benefits for a project outside of the categories above, the applicant should explain that benefit in the application. These are explained in more detail in Annex 3.

Timelines

When to apply

The UBF program was launched on Monday, November 9, 2020.

The deadline for accepting completed applications is Monday, February 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm Pacific Standard time (PST).

Projects will be assessed over the months following the end of the application period, with Ministerial selection decisions, and the negotiation of Contribution Agreements, to follow. When completing the application please ensure that the project start date is not before February 15, 2021. A project start date entered before February 15, 2021 will not be accepted.

Projects where the program's contribution exceed $50 million are subject to Cabinet and Treasury Board approvals and may take longer to be approved.

Program funding is currently available until March 31, 2027.

Submitting a UBF application package

Getting started

Applicants should apply to this program through the Applicant Portal on the UBF website.

All the information that you will provide through these secure platforms will be held confidentially by ISED.

If you are submitting large files with the Application Form, we recommend that you submit your application ahead of time to avoid potential increased loads on ISED servers towards the end of the application deadline.

If you are unable to access or otherwise use the UBF application portal, please contact us by telephone to discuss alternative accessibility options.

Accessibility options

Telephone: 1-800-328-6189

TTY (for hearing-impaired): 1-866-694-8389

Business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Online registration: Log in securely to your UBF Applicant Portal

To self-register securely and access your UBF Applicant Portal, visit the Get Connected site, click on Submit an application and follow the steps below:

  1. If you do not have a GcKey ID, you will need to create one by clicking «Continue to GcKey» and Sign Up at the right of your screen. This is the electronic equivalent to a physical key that will insure that only you can enter your application portal.
  2. Following your GcKey registration, your web page will be automatically redirected to the ISED Broadband Connection where you can create your own account.
  3. Once your Broadband Connection account is set up you will be able to access the UBF Applicant Portal.
  4. You should keep your login information of all above-mentioned services securely including your usernames, passwords, recovery questions and Personal Identification Numbers and make sure not to lose them.

Using the resources of the UBF Applicant Portal

On your UBF Applicant Portal you will be able to access the Eligibility Mapping Tool and the My Program Application, where you will find all the templates and forms you need to fill to apply. You can find them under the menu Resources as Program Templates.

Eligibility mapping tool

You will be able to provide your mapping coverage for the application using the Eligibility Mapping Tool. See Annex 1: Eligibility Mapping Tool for more information.

My program applications

By accessing your account through the ISED Broadband Connection, you will be able to create, save, edit, validate your application, submit an application and view your list of applications through the My Program Applications. You will be able to download the UBF Application Form (pdf) and complete it off‐line by using PDF reader softwareFootnote 4. You will then be able to upload the completed Application Form into the UBF Applicant Portal. You will also be able to download and upload the program templates which are required with each application submission. Applicants will be able to upload supporting documents with their application submission.

Creating an application package

There are four steps to follow when developing a project application in the UBF Applicant Portal.

As soon as you enter Create My Application, a UBF identification number will be assigned to your project application. You will then be guided to submit the necessary elements to each step of the application submission.

List of my applications

You will be able to view the list of your application submissions in the List of My Applications. This list displays all of your in progress, submitted, withdrawn application submissions.

Save my work

While you develop your application, you will be able to save your work using the Save My Work button.

Validate and save

As you work through the four steps, you will be able to validate your UBF application package as you go by pressing the Validate and Save button, if you are missing any information, a confirmation message will return an error message, that there may be components of your application that are missing within the My Program Applications.

Please verify that all fields are filled in correctly and that all required templates, supporting documents are all uploaded in each step of the application submission.

If problems persist, please contact the UBF staff for advice as soon as possible before the closing deadline to ensure that the application is submitted properly and on time.

Step 1: Eligibility mapping and statistics

You will be required to use the Eligibility Mapping Tool in order to produce the project application coverage maps (which include the meta data) in kml/kmz format. The generated coverage map must be uploaded at this step. Along with the coverage maps generated from the tool, you will be required to upload the associated statistics that are paired with the coverage maps.

Step 2: Program templates

There are a number of program templates that can be downloaded from the UBF Applicant Portal. Several templates are considered mandatory and must be uploaded with every application submission to be considered complete. For a list of templates and how to fill them in, please refer to the Annex 2: Program Templates. These templates, like the Application Form, can be saved and edited off-line or accessed and saved from the secure log-in portal. Each template contains specific instructions on how to complete it. It is important to complete the templates in the given format to assist in the assessment of the application. Failure to provide the requested information in the templates may result in the application being deemed incomplete.

Step 3: UBF application form

Once downloaded from the UBF Applicant Portal, the Application Form template can be completed and saved off-line. Please refer to Annex 3: Application Form Completion Instructions. The Application Form contains important information to support your application to the UBF. All mandatory fields in the form marked with an (*) must be filled in to be considered complete. Once the validation button is pressed, the Application Form will identify any discrepancies or errors.

Once all the mandatory fields have been filled, the form can then be uploaded into the secure log-in portal.

Step 4: Supporting documents

There are a number of supporting documents that must be completed and uploaded to the application submission. While these are referenced in the Application Form, a list can be found in the UBF Applicant portal. Additional documents can be added for each item. For a list of documents refer to Annex 5: Checklist of Documents Needed for Application Submission. If electronic versions of incorporation documents, independently prepared financial statementsFootnote 5, logical network diagrams, Gantt chart project planning document, letters of support are not readily available, an applicant may scan the hard copy and attach it. However, applicants should not scan maps and technical documents (e.g., logical network diagram). Refer to Annex 3: Application Form Completion Instructions for specific requirements.

Validate and submit a UBF application package

Upon completion of the four steps and pressing the Validate & Submit button, an acknowledgement message that your application has been submitted will appear within the Applicant portal. Furthermore, the status of the application, in the List of Applications will indicate that the application has been "submitted". This reference number should be retained and referred to in correspondence regarding the UBF program and should also be referenced if applying to other funding programs.

If a confirmation message returns an error message, there might have been a problem submitting the application. Please verify that all fields are filled in correctly and that all required templates, supporting documents are all uploaded in each Step of the Application submission. If problems persist, please contact the UBF staff for advice as soon as possible before the closing deadline to ensure that the application is submitted properly and on time.

Applicants may submit more than one proposal. Applications may target one or more province/territory and span multiple provinces/territories. Applicants submitting more than one proposal must ensure that each proposal is technologically and financially independent and that one proposal is not dependent on another for successful completion. Applications should be competitive and applicants should take into account who else is in a targeted area as they consider the scope and span of proposed project(s).

Important notes:

Only complete applications will be assessed. Incomplete applications, i.e., those that do not contain a completed Application Form, coverage maps, all required templates complete and filled-in, and other supporting documents, may not be reviewed by the program and may be considered inadmissible or rejected.

You must use the latest version of the application and the program templates when submitting your application. It is possible that these documents will be updated during the application phase. ISED will send a notification to those registered with the secure log-in portal when documents are updated, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you use the latest documents when submitting your application.

For reference, Annex 5: Checklist of Documents Needed for Application Submission will assist you in ensuring you have a complete application. It lists all required templates and supporting documents that must be submitted in order for your application to be considered complete.

The size limit of all attachments is 100 MB. If an application's attachments exceed the 100MB limit, please contact ISED officials (refer to the Contact Us section) before the submission deadline to discuss the possibility of transmitting attachments in excess of 100MB by alternate means.

When naming attachments refrain from using such characters as the following:" # % & * : < >? / \ |.

You can upload, edit, delete attachments, and delete applications in the My Applications as many times as necessary, before the submission of the application package. Once the application package has been submitted, you will only be able to select withdraw on the List of My Applications. The application package can only be submitted when all of the steps have been completed.

Submit before the deadline

You should allow for a slight transmission delay when submitting the online Application Form. Depending on the size of the attached documents and the type of Internet connection in use, the delay can be anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

The UBF's online intake system will begin accepting applications on November 9, 2020. It is strongly recommended that applicants take the time needed to complete the application but should not wait until the final hours to submit. Submitting in a reasonable time before the deadline will reduce the risk of the application not being submitted in time, especially over slower Internet connections.

Other requirements

Applicants whose projects are selected will be required to comply with certain policies and expectations of this program, which are described in the following section. The Universal Broadband Fund's Terms and Conditions are consistent with the Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments.

Applicants will be expected to use a fair, competitive and transparent procurement process to ensure best value for money when supplies, equipment and services are purchased or personnel are hired.

Applicants are required to disclose any other government assistance received prior to or during the course of the agreement related to the eligible costs supported by the program. The contribution amount may be reduced or recovered for any amount exceeding the program's stacking limit.

Reporting requirements

Successful recipients will be required to demonstrate accountability for use of the funds and must meet the reporting requirements on project expenditures and activities, the results/outcomes of the project, and achievement of performance indicators as identified in the Contribution Agreement.

Under the Terms and Conditions of the Contribution Agreement, a recipient will be required to provide quarterly progress reports describing the progress of project activities and a final performance report at the end of the project describing the results of the project. The frequency of reports is determined based on the risk of the recipient/project as determined by the program. Other reports may be required at the Minister's discretion.

Indigenous consultation

There is a duty to consult Indigenous groups when the Crown contemplates conduct (such as providing funding for a project) that might impact established or potential Aboriginal rights. If required, consultation must be taken into consideration very early in the process; otherwise project delays can be expected if consultation is not completed satisfactorily or in a timely manner. The applicant will carry out the consultation and the Minister will determine if the consultation is adequate as well as whether or not accommodation is required. Where an applicant requires assistance with this consultation, the applicant will contact ISED to develop a coordinated approach to consultation.

Environmental impact assessment

Projects funded by the program are subject to the provisions of the Impact Assessment Act. The applicant shall ensure that all activities comply with federal, provincial/territorial and municipal laws and regulations, and related laws or guidelines with respect to environmental matters.

Activities to be carried out on federal lands may require an evaluation of environmental effects under the Impact Assessment Act prior to the start of the proposed project. If activities are to be carried out on federal lands, a UBF program officer will contact the applicant if additional information is required.

Communications and promotion

In accordance with the Federal Identity program, applicants who receive federal funding are required to acknowledge the role and contribution of the Government of Canada and in all of its project partners' public communications. It is the Government of Canada's prerogative to make the first public announcement of federal funding. Instructions on the form of acknowledgement and the use of official government identifiers will be provided to successful applicants.

Security

Information for the proposed project provided in the Application Form and attachments may be shared with other federal government departments and agencies as determined by the Minister in order to assess any potential risks related to the overall integrity of network security. Applicants must ensure compliance with national security requirements of the Government of Canada.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regulations and access to networks

Applicants that are subject to CRTC regulations are expected to fulfill their obligations in matters such as third party open access to networks and dedicated capacity purchases on a wholesale or retail basis, and are expected to make pricing information available to ISED. Organizations that are not subject to CRTC regulations will need to provide wholesale pricing information for publicly funded new points of presence (PoPs).

Updating your coverage Information

Applicants should provide their latest existing last mile and/or backbone coverage on the Get Connected website. They can submit feedback and update the connectivity information across the country. Applicants can also notify the Government of Canada about changes in mobile coverage through the regular CRTC channels.

ANNEX 1: Eligibility mapping tool

This tool has been developed to help facilitate the submission of projects covering eligible areas for the Universal Broadband Fund. It provides the same detailed mapping information as the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, and allows applicants to draw their own project on the map in a user-friendly way.

Within the tool, applicants can either draw directly on the map or upload previously generated maps which have been saved in the KML/KMZ format. Proposed project areas are captured as enclosed shapes within the tool and applicants will be able to expand or modify their project area directly. In order to streamline the analysis of project coverage and provide accurate statistics, the tool will prompt the applicant to provide mandatory information about the proposed coverage. For each enclosed shape within a project, an applicant will need to provide the technology types for access and transport corresponding components, as well as maximum and minimum download speeds.

Maps designed with this tool will have the proper format for submission under this program and will be used to calculate statisticsFootnote 6 on the area targeted by the applicantFootnote 7. The tool can be accessed through the UBF Applicant Portal.

ANNEX 2: Program templates

These Excel Program Templates must be uploaded with the Application Form in order to successfully submit a UBF application and complete the submission. When a document is properly filled, a green line should appear at the top of the document. If the line remains red, it means the template has not been filled properly and will not be receivable for a submission unless the issue is fixed.

Template 1: Eligibility & impacts calculator

Please note that the template spreadsheet itself must be uploaded. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted.

This mandatory template will be used in conjunction with the Eligibility Mapping Tool statistics to demonstrate project eligibility and calculate the impact of the proposed project coverage area against the program objectives. Applicants must have first completed the creation and submission of a project map to the tool prior to completion of this template. The results shown within this template are directly derived from the applicant map and will ultimately be used for evaluation purposes. It is possible that applicants may choose to modify their proposed project and associated coverage area (i.e. map) following their assessment of the results shown in this template. Applicants are encouraged to use the Eligibility Mapping Tool and this template to help to assemble the most viable project possible.

Detailed instructions for completion can be found within the template itself.

The template is presented in four main sections:

  1. Map Validation
  2. Eligibility and Impacts Summary
  3. Overbuild Assessment
  4. Eligibility Assessment

Map validation is a summary of the proposed project coverage mapping file, as submitted to the mapping tool. This section will highlight the version of that file, the date produced and analyzed and the currency of the data used for the assessment. There is no applicant input required for this section.

Eligibility and impacts summary provides an assessment of the eligibility of the proposed project coverage. Eligibility is shown for both Broadband Service expansion (i.e. areas lacking 50/10 Mbps) elements as well as mobile wireless service expansion (i.e. major highways and roads lacking LTE or advanced mobile services). Additional feedback regarding potential impacts for households on Indigenous lands, very remote communities or within satellite-dependent communities is also found here. There is no applicant input required for this section.

Overbuild assessment provides an evaluation of the potential overbuild of existing services and other known projects and investments currently underway. This section only applies to applications which include expansion of broadband services in areas without 50/10 Mbps. Overbuild refers to building duplicative services within areas that have similar or better existing services. Overbuilding existing services is an ineligible activity under the UBF Program. The mapping tool assists applicants to identify and eliminate potential overbuild visually when defining their project area. This section of the template will characterize any remaining overbuild in terms of a count of impacted households. Applicants are advised to modify their proposed project and revising proposed coverage based on the evaluation of overbuild provided in this section.

Eligibility assessment provides a step- by-step assessment of the number of eligible households targeted by the submitted coverage for projects expanding broadband service in areas lacking 50/10 Mbps and the number of eligible kilometres of major highways or roads for projects proposing the expansion of mobile services. Applicants are shown how eligible and ineligible areas of their proposals impact the assessment of eligibility of the proposed project. The results of this calculation are carried up to the Eligibility and Impacts Summary section above.

Template 2: Detailed budget

Please note that the template spreadsheet itself must be uploaded. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This is a mandatory template.

Financial support from ISED is intended to complement, not replace, funding received from other sources for the proposed project. Applicants are required to disclose all actual and potential sources of funding for their project.

In completing Template 2: Detailed Budget, provide the following:

All items in the budget are required to be allocated between components of the project that are targeting rural areas are eligible for up to 75%; very remote, Indigenous areas, satellite-dependent areas, or mobile benefiting Indigenous peoples are eligible up to 90%.

For all costs beyond network equipment, the applicant should allocate funds where it makes the most sense. For example, it may be possible to determine how the engineering and project management costs will be allocated between these components.

The information provided in this template must be used to respond to the remaining items in the Application Form Section 2.

Template 3: Financial forecast

Please note that the template spreadsheet itself must be uploaded. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This is a mandatory template.

The Template 3: Financial Forecast is an estimate of the future financial outcomes for the project (for up to five (5) years after project completion). It will be used to demonstrate the need for funding as well as financial viability of the project.

For the financial forecast only incremental expenses and revenues attributable to the project and associated with the services to be delivered are to be included. Incremental revenue is the product of the monthly service fee charged per service offering and the estimated percentage of customers that will subscribed to a particular offering. The result will be used to calculate the average revenue per customer, which will then be used to calculate revenue over the five (5) years period. Additional instructions are provided in the template. If the project involves upgrading services to current customers please ensure to include only the incremental price associated with any upgraded services. You will note that all sources of funding for the project are excluded in the calculation of the net present value (NPV) for the project, as the Financial Forecast will be used to assess the viability of the project at various levels of funding support.

Template 4: Last-mile Internet service offerings

Please note that the spreadsheet itself must be attached. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This is a mandatory template.

Applicants should use this template to list the service plans that they intend to provide in the covered areas. Service plans should be provided if the applicant plans to use this information in their financial forecast for their estimated subscriber (residential and/or business) revenue. The template should include at least one residential service plan that meets the objectives of the UBF program. The template contains further instructions on how to complete the document.

Template 5: List of points of presence and wholesale pricing

Please note that the spreadsheet itself must be attached. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This template is required if the project constructs any points of presence, which offer third party wholesale pricing.

Please indicate the location of the points of presence, including the latitude and longitude of the PoPs. Provide the applicable wholesale pricing per month for the related capacity (0.1 Gbps, 1 Gbps 10 Gbps) that will be offered for each community. The price for 1 Gbps is mandatory to complete this template. Note that the wholesale/retail open access pricing should be provided if the applicant plans to use this information in their financial forecast for their estimated wholesale/retail revenue. Applicants owning passive infrastructure that are committed to making it more easily accessible to third parties should submit a letter from their executive management and include it in Template 6. Applicants requiring access to third parties' passive infrastructure and who can demonstrate a commitment of speedy collaboration with said third parties trough a support letter should provide it in Template 6.

Template 6: Community and rural development benefits

Please note that the spreadsheet itself must be attached. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This is a mandatory template for Mobile projects benefitting Indigenous peoples. Although it is not mandatory for other types of projects, applicants are still strongly encouraged to complete it. Applicants have two opportunities to present the Community and Rural Development Benefits of their project within the template.

Applicants must complete the letters of supports section in the community and rural development template. You should provide contact information for all your community partners and describe the rural development benefits that their letters are describing for your project. Each letter of support should be attached separately when submitting the application.

Template 7: Wireless & mobile addendum

Please note that the spreadsheet itself must be attached. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This template is mandatory if your project includes a fixed wireless or mobile technology component.

Projects that include a fixed wireless component for rural broadband or mobile component must provide additional information to confirm that the wireless or mobile solution can meet the objectives of the program.

The applicant should indicate the key parameters that define the fixed wireless or mobile solution proposed. This includes indicating the wireless technology standard proposed, the planned gateway capacity, the key base station parameters, the key subscriber parameters, and the wireless tower specifications.

Template 8: Supporting connectivity evidence

Please note that the spreadsheet itself must be attached. PDF scans or printouts of the spreadsheet will not be accepted. This template is mandatory if an applicant intends to provide evidence to clarify or improve the coverage data presented by the Availability Map. See Annex 4: Process for Reviewing Availability Map Data for more information on the process of updating or improving the data of the Availability Map.

Applicants should provide evidence that households or areas in question cannot access speeds of 50/10 Mbps (download/upload) with any local Internet service providers.

ANNEX 3: Application form completion instructions

Things to remember

Mandatory fields: Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory fields and must be completed.

Save as you go: Remember that the Application Form will allow you to draft the application, save it and return later to complete or revise it, print it and validate it.

Applications have a maximum length: Applications have a set overall maximum length. Each item will display their respective maximum number of characters allowed. Note that spaces and hard returns are counted as characters and add to the total number of characters.

Review the application before submitting: Once the Application Form is complete and is ready to submit, a thorough review is strongly recommended. Once the Application Form has been validated (by using the "Validate" button), the Application Form is ready to be uploaded to the UBF Applicant Portal.

Keep a record of the application: It is recommended that you print your application before submitting it by using the "Print" button in the Application Form. The application can also be saved onto a desktop or data storage device (e.g. USB flash drive) by using the "Save As" button and naming it accordingly.

Attachments: When completing the pdf form, attachments should not be attached in the pdf. You will be required to upload these attachments in the My Program Applications at the indicated step of the application submission.

Filling out the UBF application form

Important information on using the Application Form:

The UBF Application Form contains six (6) sections. Each section is explained below in further detail to assist with completing the Application Form.

Getting started

Filling in your Proposal(s)

Any information that you wish to be considered as confidential should be annotated accordingly. More information on the confidentiality parameters will be enclosed in the Contribution Agreement if your project is selected.

Section 1 — Applicant and contact information

Item 1*: Legal name of applicant

Identify the legal name of the applicant in English and French and subsequently verify that this is the primary legal name in the corresponding official language.

Item 2*: Operating name

Identify if the operating name is the same as the legal name. If the operating name is different, indicate the operating name in the space provided.

Item 3*: Type of organization

Select from the dropdown menu the legal type that best describes the organization applying for funding (e.g., incorporated company-private or public; partnership; limited partnership; joint venture/syndicate; cooperative; educational institution; other non-profit organization; municipality/municipal development corporation; province/provincial crown corporation; band council; public body owned by local/regional government; and other).

If a "band council" is the selected type of organization, then a subsequent box will appear asking that the applicant provide the band number.

If "other" is selected then the applicant will be provided space to specify the type of organization, this field cannot be left empty or an error message will occur.

Item 4*: Indigenous entity

An Indigenous entity may include:

Item 4b*: If the applicant is an Indigenous organization, identify the Indigenous entity in 75 characters or less.

Item 5*: Overview of the organization

The applicant must provide in 3,500 characters or less an overview of the organization, including information on its current business model, years in business, experience in operating broadband services, previous federal broadband funding received (if applicable), mission/mandate/ vision, size of operation (e.g. annual revenue, assets, number of staff), membership (if applicable), current broadband coverage and subscription base.

Item 6*: Incorporation or registration

The applicant must provide the date of incorporation or registration in the following format YYYY-MM-DD. The 9 digit business identifier number provided by Canada Revenue Agency is also required.

The relevant documents related to incorporation must be provided in PDF format and may be uploaded in Step 4: Supporting Documents.

Item 7*: Applicant location

The applicant location must include complete information on the physical location, such as the floor, suite or room number, street number and name. Identify the city, and select from the drop down menu the Province or Territory and include the postal code. The applicant's 10-digit telephone number is required without dashes, brackets or spaces. Space has also been provided to include the extension number, if applicable. The corresponding email is required as well as the website address, if applicable.

Item 8*: Mailing address of the applicant

The applicant must select whether or not the mailing address is the same as the applicant location. If no, the applicant must identify the full details of the mailing address.

Item 9*: Authorized contact

Provide the name, title, telephone number and email address of the primary contact person for liaising with ISED on matters involving the application. The person named should be an authorized official of the organization, who has full authority to bind said organization through funding agreements. One primary contact must be identified in the case of applications submitted on behalf of multiple organizations.

Item 10: Alternate contact

Include the first and last name, title, business telephone number and email of an alternate contact in the event that the primary contact becomes unreachable. If there is to be no alternate contact, leave this section blank.

Item 11* & 12*: Official language

The applicant must select English or French for the respective official language preferred for correspondence and as its official language.

Section 2 — Project information

For applicants that are successful in their applications for funding under the UBF program, the contribution amounts will be made public via government websites, media releases or other similar materials. Information provided in Section two (2), items 1 to 4, may be used, in whole or in part to assist ISED in the preparation of any public announcements.

Item 1*: Multiple provinces/territories

The applicant must indicate whether the applicant's project will span more than one province/territory. The applicant must identify the province(s)/territory(ies) where the project will take place.

In cases where an applicant has identified that the project will span across more than one province/territory, check all that apply.

Item 2*: Project title

In a maximum of 200 characters, provide the project title for the proposed project.

Item 3*: Geographic project area description

Using a maximum of 150 characters, in the text box provided, include a very brief description of the geographic location of the area of the project (i.e., include the closest community(ies) and the general area which the project will target).

Item 4*: Description of the project

Using a maximum of 3,500 characters, in the text box provided, include a non-technical language description of the project, (i.e. description of the project for the general public). Please avoid including any confidential or proprietary information in the description. It is useful for the project description to highlight the key theme or purpose of the project, along with briefly answering the 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when' and 'why' of the application.

Geographic coverage mapping information

Use the Eligibility Mapping Tool to generate the project coverage that is to be included in your application. The coverage tool allows you to import your proposed coverage or to draw it directly on the map. This tool produces the coverage file that is required for your application.

The Eligibility Mapping Tool must be used in conjunction with Template 1 to identify eligible and ineligible project areas and calculate the impact of the proposed project coverage area against the program objectives.

Item 5*: Existing network and coverage information

Indicate if existing network and/or coverage information has been already submitted to ISED or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the past 12 months, or if the intention is to submit the information to ISED before the close of applications.

This information is used by ISED to continually update broadband coverage data. If the applicant or its partners will provide existing network information and/or coverage by the application deadline, select the second option and use the linked form to inform ISED as such.

If the applicant or its partners do not currently own or operate broadband infrastructure, please select the third option.

Item 6*: Project costing

Copy the information from Template 2: Detailed Budget to identify the project costing, including the total eligible costs and total project cost. For a list of eligible costs refer to the Eligible Costs section above.

Budget details

You must demonstrate that a funding plan is in place to implement the proposed eligible project.

You must complete and upload the appropriate templates related to the project budget details in Step 2 Templates in the application submission.

Item 7*: Project funding

Copy the information from Template 2: Detailed Budget to identify the requested funding amount from the UBF program, the amount that the applicant will contribute to the project, and funding from all other sources if applicable.

If you are seeking 100% funding support from external sources including the UBF program, then input "$0" next to "amount applicant will contribute". An error message will occur if an amount, including 0, is not entered.

Item 8: Amount of other funding sources

You are required to identify sources of funding that you expect to secure to cover all project costs. The amount of funding requested and the status of those applications must be clearly identified in the table provided. The only types of loans that you can provide in this section those which you anticipate to receive from a program or granting agency. Any other loans must be included in the applicant funding.

Use the "+" and "-" buttons to add or remove an information line. If there are multiple items and you would like to change the order in which they appear, use the arrows (▲▼) to move them. Please provide the name of the partner(s), the contact information, name of the program (if applicable) and amount for all other corresponding funding sources.

If other sources of funding are contingent on you receiving funding under the UBF program, indicate in the drop down menu the status (e.g. submitted, received confirmation of eligibility, pending, or approved). As well, using the drop down menu, you must identify the funder type (e.g. federal, provincial/territorial, municipal, or private).

Item 9* & 10*: Project start and completion end date

You must provide the proposed start and completion dates for the project. The start and end dates must be no earlier than February 15, 2021 and the end date must be no later than March 31, 2027. Information provided in this section will be used to determine whether the project meets the timeframe of the UBF program. This information will also be used to compare projects proposing to serve the same general underserved area.

Section 3 — Technological solution

Item 1*: System design

Provide a description of the system that must cover all key network components that enable connectivity from the start and end points (maximum 3,500 characters).

Item 2*: Logical network diagram

You must upload a logical network diagram in Step 4: Supporting Documents in the application submission.

Mandatory supporting documents*

Item 3*: Last mile Internet service offerings

Using Template 4: Last-mile Internet Service Offerings, provide a list of service plans which will be offered to residential clients at Step 2.

Mandatory template*

Upload Template 4: Last-mile Internet Service Offerings

Item 4*: Scalability

Describe the ability of the network to adapt to forecasted increased network capacity and demand over the next (5) years from the project completion date, accommodating additional subscribers and usage traffic, enhanced services and the network's ability to support speeds identified above in this guide (maximum 3,500 characters).

Item 5*: Backbone technology type

Check all boxes that apply to specify the backbone technology(ies) proposed (i.e., Fibre, Satellite, Microwave).

Item 6*: Last-mile technology type

Check all boxes that apply to specify the last-mile technology type (i.e., Fibre, Cable, DSL, Mobile Wireless, Fixed Wireless, Satellite). If you selected mobile wireless or fixed wireless, upload Template 7 at Step 2.

Mandatory template (if applicable)*

Upload Template 7: Wireless and Mobile Addendum

Section 4 — Benefits

Applicants are encouraged to quantify any estimation or claim they make about the effects of their project to the targeted areas in open box section.

Item 1*: Description of connectivity improvements

Projects will be assessed based on their household connectivity impacts and on their social and economic benefits.

The effects of the project on program's primary objectives will be derived from Template 1: Eligibility and Impacts Calculator. In addition, if the project includes backbone infrastructure, the Template 5: List of Points of Presence and Wholesale Pricing must also be filled out.

To support their claims of social and economic benefits, applicants should provide letters of support (at Step 4) and upload Template 6: Community and Rural Development Benefits (at Step 2). Applications must include a listing for the letters of support and their associated benefits.

Describe the social and economic benefits as a result of the proposed project, including improvements to community connectivity, facilitation of commercial or industrial development, improvement of public services or programs delivery, improvement of small businesses or entrepreneurship capacity, etc. In the case of internal corporate policies, social responsibility and philanthropic practices, you can describe how your organization promotes gender equality and diversity or how your organization gives back to the community (maximum 3,500 characters).

Mandatory template (if applicable)*

Supporting documents

Applicants are encouraged to provide supporting documents to the above, including letters, contracts, or emails which can be attached within the application submissionFootnote 10. This information should avoid presenting general benefits that could apply to any broadband project and speak to the specific and tangible benefits of the application. Letters from federal or provincial elected officials should not be provided.

Supporting documents must be provided in.pdf or.doc formats. Fill out Template 6: Community and Rural Development Benefits to list the letters of support and upload all the related documents.

Template*

Section 5 ‐ Project planning & management

Item 1*: Project management

An applicant must demonstrate that it has the capacity to manage the proposed project and bring it to successful completion. This capacity includes both administrative and technical capabilities. The applicant and collaborators must have strong project management, financial control and technical development skills. Where weaknesses exist, remedial measures must be explained.

There are three required fields.

Project schedule

Mandatory supporting documents*

Please do not include the time to negotiate and sign the Contribution Agreement with the federal government in the GANTT chart.

Activities must be logically sequenced with realistic timelines, and include a start date and a completion date for each of the key project stages.

This information will be used to assess the reasonableness of project implementation as well as the feasibility of project timelines.

Item 2*: Sustainability

In the space provided, using a maximum of 3,500 characters, describe key factors to indicate how you will be prepared to operate, manage and maintain the proposed broadband network including any external managed services which will support network management or operations functions. Address how you will ensure that the necessary sales, operational, technical and billing support systems are or will be in place to supply the proposed services.

Section 6 – Declarations

You are required to check appropriate boxes in the declaration section of the Application Form. Please ensure to complete the signature block at the end of the form before submitting.

ANNEX 4: Process for reviewing availability map data

Potential applicants may seek to apply to cover ineligible areas on the Availability Map if evidence can be provided to substantiate the accuracy of reported broadband service speeds. If an applicant wishes to review, challenge, or update the information on broadband services displayed on the Availability Map, ISED encourages the applicant to communicate with program staff through the following address: get-connected@canada.ca

Updates and confirmations of existing services (or lack thereof) may result in the Availability Map receiving final updates prior to the application deadline. Unresolved or unconfirmed information will not result in the Availability Map being updated.

Applicants seeking to challenge coverage information on the Availability Map should provide evidence that households or areas in question cannot access speeds of 50/10 Mbps (download/upload) with any local Internet service providers. Information demonstrating a lack of 50/10 Mbps service should include, but is not limited to, the following:

All evidence should be attached in the Step 4: Supporting documents in the application submission.

If an applicant wishes to cover an eligible area, but has reason to believe that the presence of Indigenous peoples has been underestimated by the impact calculator, the applicant may clarify the situation by means of a Band Council Resolution, a letter from the Chief in Council, a letter from the Chief or refer to the situation in similar general support documents to be attached with Template 6.

ANNEX 5: Checklist of documents needed for application submission

Step 1: Eligibility mapping and statistics

Step 2: Templates

Step 3: UBF application form

Step 4: Supporting documents

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