Universal Broadband Fund: For applicants
The Universal Broadband Fund program is now closed for applications.
The Universal Broadband Fund program is now closed for applications. The application guide details the UBF application requirements and provides information on assessment criteria.
Dedicated support for applicants
Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) has always been committed to ensuring that its rural broadband programs are open to all applicants who can demonstrate that they can deliver viable projects. Building on the efforts of previous programs, the Universal Broadband Fund dedicated resources to help applicants develop projects, use our maps, build partnerships, point potential applicants towards potential sources of funding, and navigate the application process.
Please contact us:
Eligibility Mapping Tool
Applicants could access an Eligibility Mapping Tool to develop the most comprehensive projects with no overbuild or overlap. Using this tool, applicants were able to draw their proposed coverage on a map based on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, or upload their own maps in KMZ format.
Please view our video for help with using the Eligibility Mapping Tool.
Frequently asked questions
You can access our Frequently Asked Questions to find the answers to commonly asked questions about the Universal Broadband Fund. Can't find what you are looking for?
Contact us to get your question answered:
Who can apply?
A not-for-profit organization or a for-profit corporation incorporated in Canada, a Canadian provincial, territorial or municipal entity, a Band Council, an Indigenous government authority, a non-federal public sector body or a partnership of any of the entities listed above. Individuals and federal entities were excluded from applying to the program.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada defines an eligible applicant in its Application Guide.
The applicant must have identified who would build, own and operate the broadband network.
Who could have applied to the Rapid Response Stream?
Please visit the Rapid Response Stream website for more information.
Which communities and areas were eligible?
For Universal Broadband Fund broadband projects, any 250m rural road segment identified on the National Broadband Internet Availability Map that does not show as having 50/10 Mbps coverage was eligible.
For mobile coverage projects, any roads or communities without existing 4G LTE services that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples were eligible.
Could a province have applied for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund?
Yes, provinces were an eligible applicant to our program and could have presented a project as a proponent.
Could a municipality have applied for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund?
Yes, a municipality was an eligible applicant to our program and could have presented a project as a proponent.
Could Indigenous organizations have applied for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund?
Yes, Indigenous organizations were eligible applicants and could have presented a project as a proponent.
Could a federal department or agency have applied for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund?
No, federal departments and agencies were not eligible to apply for funding under the program.
Did the Universal Broadband Fund accept partnership projects including several municipalities or municipalities and/or private Internet service providers?
Yes, a project may include partnerships, including several communities or municipalities working together. It is also possible for a project to include different partners. Municipal and private sector partners were encouraged to collaborate.
Could individuals have applied to the Universal Broadband fund because they do not have Internet access?
Individuals could not apply to the Universal Broadband Fund. The program funds broadband infrastructure and is intended to support applicants who will ultimately operate the broadband infrastructure builds. Therefore, eligible applicants must have the ability to design, build and run broadband infrastructure.
We encouraged individuals to reach out to their municipalities and their local Internet service providers to let them know about the Universal Broadband Fund and encourage them to apply for funding.
I already submitted an application to the CRTC Broadband Fund. Could I also have applied to the Universal Broadband Fund?
Yes, applications to both programs were permitted and encouraged. We have developed a coordination framework in an effort to avoid duplicative funding or projects. We are working together to make sure that the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map is updated so that applicants can see the latest coverage. Given the scope of the rural 50/10 Mbps gap and timing, it is anticipated that application to both initiatives will lead to the most expedient project executions.
Could I have applied for a mobile project only?
You were be able to submit mobile only projects proposals to the Universal Broadband Fund if your mobile project primarily benefits Indigenous peoples. The specific areas that are eligible for mobile funding will be shown on the Eligibility Mapping Tool.
What is a mobile project that primarily benefits Indigenous peoples?
Under the Universal Broadband Fund, mobile projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples will target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and major roads where the deployment of mobile coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. In the latter case, unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could be eligible. Projects are expected to extend 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas that benefit Indigenous peoples.
Could I have applied for a mobile project if I did not target an Indigenous community?
All mobile projects must benefit Indigenous peoples. A project may target a road or highway outside of an Indigenous community if it leads to one or if the project would have demonstrated value in terms of socio-economic development or public safety for Indigenous peoples.
What does the program consider to be an "Indigenous community"?
Indigenous communities and Indigenous households have been defined as those households and communities that are located on Aboriginal lands, as identified by the Aboriginal Lands of Canada Legislative Boundaries mapping layer maintained by Natural Resources Canada.
This layer can be seen on both the National Broadband Internet Availability Map and the Eligibility Mapping Tool. If you believe an Indigenous community or area is missing from the map, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
What is an "Indigenous entity"?
An Indigenous entity may include a profit or non-profit organization run by and for First Nation, Metis, or Inuit people. The entity must be incorporated. A band council within the meaning of section 2 of the Indian Act or an Indigenous government authority established by a Self-Government Agreement or a Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement are also eligible recipients.
My project will impact an Indigenous community. What do I have to do?
There is a Duty to Consult Indigenous groups when the Crown contemplates conduct (such as providing funding for a broadband project) that might impact established or potential Aboriginal rights.
Under the Universal Broadband Fund, it was up to the applicant to carry out the Duty to Consult and report to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, who will determine if the consultation was adequate and whether proposed accommodations are acceptable.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will also work with applicants and Indigenous communities where proposed accommodations cannot be agreed upon. If you would like more information on this process, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
What are large scale, high-impact projects?
Large scale, high-impact projects must be transformative in terms of results and scope. To advance large scale, high-impact projects, partnerships with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is available to offer low-cost loans for broadband projects, are encouraged. These projects will submit the same application package and be subject to the same requirements as all other projects, and the following will be considered:
- scale of the geographic coverage (e.g. percentage of the coverage gap to be addressed in a province or territory);
- number of households covered;
- comprehensiveness of the proposed coverage (e.g. no households remain unserved for large scale projects);
- magnitude of the improvement in speeds proposed (e.g. the percentage increase over existing available speeds);
- federal cost per household.
Projects must be completed by March 31, 2026.
Did I have to do a different application depending on the size or type of my project?
The application process remainded the same regardless of the size of the project under the Universal Broadband Fund. All the main Universal Broadband Fund application documents are the same. Some documents, such as community benefits, may be mandatory for large scale, high-impact projects, while they may be requested on an optional or voluntary basis for other projects.
However, the application documents and process for the Rapid Response Stream were different. Please visit the Rapid Response Stream website to find out more.
Did I have to work with a partner, like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to develop a large, high-impact project?
Collaboration with a partner, such as the Canada Infrastructure Bank, is not mandatory for large, high-impact projects, but may be opportune for some applicants. The Universal Broadband Fund encourages and positively assesses projects that leverage additional funding to ensure that as much of Canada as possible gets access to high-speed Internet. Applicants who wished to submit a project for a region where cost-sharing with the Canada Infrastructure Bank would make sense were encouraged to consider this option.
For more information and assistance, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
The Application Process
How do I contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada if I need help?
You can contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
How do I apply to the UBF?
The application period for the UBF is now closed.
For more information, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
What was the deadline for applications?
The deadline for applications was noon (PST) March 15, 2021.
Will there be multiple intakes for the program?
The Universal Broadband Fund accepted applications from November 9, 2020 until noon (PST) March 15, 2021. Future intake processes may be announced in the future.
How do I apply to the Rapid Response Stream?
The application period for the RRS is now closed.
Please visit the Rapid Response Stream website for more information.
Was there a joint applications system between the Universal Broadband Fund and provincial/territorial funding?
While we work closely with provinces and territories, there was no formal joint application system for the Universal Broadband Fund and available provincial/territorial funding. You would need to apply for these funds separately.
When a province aligns its processes with the Universal Broadband Fund, it will be indicated on their website.
Was there a joint application system between the Universal Broadband Fund and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) broadband fund? Can my application be automatically transferred?
The CRTC is an independent, arms-length tribunal. As such, there is no direct link between applications made to the CRTC Broadband Fund and the Universal Broadband Fund.
However, close coordination of the underlying data, program objectives and application materials has been undertaken which could allow applicants to use similar materials to apply to each program. Those who applied to the CRTC Fund were strongly encouraged to also apply to the Universal Broadband Fund. To the extent possible, and leveraging the common mapping platform, the CRTC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will work closely to ensure that we do not fund projects that could overbuild each other.
Was there a joint application system between the Universal Broadband Fund and the Canada Infrastructure Bank?
In order to be considered for funding from both the Universal Broadband Fund and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, you would have needed to submit an application form to the Universal Broadband Fund and separately contact the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will work closely with the Canada Infrastructure Bank on assessment of projects seeking funding from both. Potential applicants who would like the Canada Infrastructure Bank to consider their proposal for low cost financing should proactively reach out to the Canada Infrastructure Bank:
Gregory Balycky (Quebec Coverage)
Canada Infrastructure Bank
150 King Street West, Suite 2309
P.O. Box 15, Toronto, Ontario
What is the Canada Infrastructure Bank and what role are they playing in the Universal Broadband Fund?
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is a federal Crown corporation created in 2017 mandated to invest $35 billion in federal funding to attract private sector investment into new revenue generating infrastructure projects. The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is seeking to make investments in the broadband sector and is interested in supporting bidders to the Universal Broadband Fund for broadband projects that require approximately $200 million in private capital and CIB financing. The CIB is focused on high-impact projects, which connect underserved households.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is able to support bidders through providing low-cost financing. Applicants who wish to receive more information on financing requirements can contact the Canada Infrastructure Bank:
Gregory Balycky (Quebec Coverage)
Canada Infrastructure Bank
150 King Street West, Suite 2309
P.O. Box 15, Toronto, Ontario
What are the benefits of using Canada Infrastructure Bank financing?
By using the Canada Infrastructure Bank's low-cost financing as part of a bidder's financing plan, the bidder is able to reduce the weighted average cost of capital for their project's financing. This should result in a reduction in the requested funding from the Universal Broadband Fund and improve the project's overall value-for-money.
What financing structures can the Canada Infrastructure Bank support?
The Canada Infrastructure Bank's low-cost financing would form part of a bidder's overall financing structure. It is a requirement for the Canada Infrastructure Bank that a portion of a project's capital cost be funded by other sources of private capital (i.e. non-federal government sources). For example, a bidder may choose to include as part of its project financing plan a variety of sources of capital including bank debt, bond debt, and equity capital, in addition to the requested funding from the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada Infrastructure Bank financing.
For a new organization, there are many costs involved with launching Internet service. Are any of these costs eligible?
The Universal Broadband Fund will pay for costs associated with the deployment of broadband infrastructure, such as purchases of hardware and network software, equipment, leases of satellite capacity, salaries and benefits, and fees for associated contracted services related to the build of the network. Examples of eligible and ineligible costs can be found in the Application Guide.
The Universal Broadband Fund will not cover any ongoing costs to operate a broadband network.
Project assessment and selection
How will projects be selected?
Projects will be selected using a three-stage assessment process that will ensure that applications from a wide variety of applicants across Canada can be considered. Ultimately, the Minister of Rural Economic Development will select projects that best meet the objectives of the program.
Once projects are selected, what are the next steps?
Once projects are selected by the Minister of Rural Economic Development, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada contacts the potential recipient to begin negotiating a Contribution Agreement. Final terms and funding will be based on due diligence assessments and possible requests for additional information. Once agreed, the Contribution Agreement is signed by both parties.
Projects that are selected may be announced publicly by the Minister of Rural Economic Development. Projects will be posted on the Universal Broadband Fund website.
What are the funding contributions and limits?
A project's requested funding should be the minimum level of support required to ensure that the project proceeds within the proposed time and scope.
The maximum amount of funding that an applicant could have requested 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 remote areas, satellite-dependent and Indigenous communities as identified on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map.
The maximum amount of funding that an applicant can request for a mobile project that primarily benefits Indigenous peoples is up to 90% of the total eligible costs.
All projects will have a stacking limit of up to 100% of eligible project costs. This means that total public funds (federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal governments) 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.
Will the program support the deployment of cell/mobile service?
Yes, up to $50 million of the Universal Broadband Fund will support the deployment of cellular/ mobile service that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples. For more information, please see our Application Guide.
The Rapid Response Stream is exclusively dedicated to household connectivity.
Why should I provide letters of support for my project?
Letters of support from community members, municipalities, anchor institutions, Band councils and others can help demonstrate the social and economic impacts that will result from your proposed project.
These letters should provide specific, tangible, and expected benefits a project is likely to provide within and around its targeted community(ies). Applicants are also encouraged to find ways to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility.
Applicants were encouraged to provide supporting documents that demonstrate the benefits listed above, including letters, contracts, or emails, which can be attached within the application submission. 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. Further details on letters of support can be found in the Application Guide.
Does the program favour large Internet service providers over others?
We have always been committed to ensuring our programs are open to any potential applicant that is capable of delivering a viable project.
Our recent Connect to Innovate program was very successful in supporting projects from a wide range of applicants. Under the program, approximately 1/3 of funding was committed to large Internet service providers, 1/3 to small Internet service providers and municipalities, and 1/3 to Indigenous projects.
We built on this diversity under the Universal Broadband Fund by providing additional "pathfinder" support to all applicants, but particularly small applicants to build partnerships, point to potential sources of funding, and navigate the application process. These applicants may not have the same expertise or capacity as large Internet service providers but may also represent the only likely applicant in many rural and remote communities.
Is there a point system for the assessment of projects?
Projects under the Universal Broadband Fund will be selected based on several criteria outlined in the Application Guide.
What happens if I submit a project with different Megabits per second speeds?
High Speed Access for All: Canada's Connectivity Strategy commits to universal access to high-speed Internet, defined as connectivity at 50/10 Mbps. Applicants who submit projects at less than that risk having their project rejected.
Will the Universal Broadband Fund favour projects that can start immediately?
The Rapid Response Stream of the Universal Broadband Fund has been designed to support projects that can offer service improvements by November 15, 2021. Please visit the Rapid Response Stream website for more information.
Applicants who applied to the Rapid Response Stream, but who could not deliver projects within the specified time period, were encouraged to apply to the main Universal Broadband Fund.
We want to ensure that Canadians are connected as quickly as possible to high-speed Internet. All applicants are encouraged to accurately describe their deployment schedule and project timeline.
Will only projects in provinces and territories that have money to spend on high-speed Internet be selected?
All underserved regions of Canada — i.e. those areas that do not have high-speed Internet access of 50/10 Mbps — are eligible for the Universal Broadband Fund. Leveraging funding helps taxpayers dollars go further, but it is only one of a number of considerations that will go into choosing projects.
What do I do if I think that my project might have an environmental impact?
As with all major projects, you would be required to determine whether you need to do an Impact Assessment. As part of the Universal Broadband Fund, if your project is on federal lands, we will require proof that you did an Impact Assessment. For more information on Impact Assessments, please visit the website of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
Using the application system
How do I log into the application portal?
You can access the application portal by visiting our website and clicking on "Apply Now". The ISED Broadband Connection portal requires you to have a GCKey in order to successfully log in. Once you have logged in, you can navigate through the application process, including downloading and uploading forms and templates and developing a project map.
We have also developed a webinar that explains how to access the application portal.
What if I had a GCKey, but I have forgotten the password?
Please follow the instructions on the ISED Broadband Connection website for recovering your password.
What if the ISED Broadband Connection application portal doesn't work for me? Who can I contact?
If you need help with the application portal, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
I forgot to keep a copy of the proposal that I just submitted. How can I request a copy?
All applications, including submitted applications, are available on the ISED Broadband Connection application portal, through which you submitted your application. Once the application is submitted, you cannot modify it, but you can view it. You may also contact us by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
I tried submitting my proposal but the system "times out" and I don't see a confirmation page. What should I do?
If a confirmation page was not displayed on your computer, there is a possibility that your proposal was not received. Please contact us immediately to determine next steps by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
I submitted a proposal but have not received the confirmation yet. How can I ensure my proposal was sent to the program?
The confirmation is displayed on your screen after you have pressed the "Submit" button. If you did not receive a confirmation message that your proposal was submitted, please contact us immediately by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
Could I have submitted more than one proposal?
Yes, applicants could have submitted more than one proposal.
Is there a maximum funding amount for one proposal that will be considered?
Under the main Universal Broadband Fund, there is no maximum funding amount limit per project. Proposals over a certain amount will require additional approval and it is expected that there will be competitive proposals from across the country. The Government is also looking to maximize its investments across the country. Proposals should meet all the eligibility and essential requirements and offer good value.
Broadband and Data Mapping
What actions have been undertaken to improve how Internet service provider coverage data is mapped, analyzed and shared?
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), together with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), are making continual improvements to the collection and use of broadband coverage data to make maps more precise and detailed, while respecting commercially sensitive Internet service providers data.
This has included a refinement related to speeds and technologies, and increasing geographic precision, which is now shown by 250 metre road segments.
Limitations due to commercial confidentiality meant that the information previously had to be aggregated into areas of 25 square km or more to be displayed and shared. It is now possible to aggregate the information in smaller areas while respecting commercial confidentiality. However, the higher level of data continues to be available on our maps.
This new approach uses information provided by Internet service providers to assess available service against household locations and road segments. Detailed coverage received from the Internet service provider is not published. Rather, the assessment of available service per 250 m road segment is, hence producing a more granular sharable product.
ISED has already taken key steps toward presenting this information by updating our online map (the National Broadband Service Availability Map) and making it available for download on the Government of Canada Open Data portal.
The map now contains layers with additional data relating to broadband connectivity in Canada, such as:
- the list of communities that rely on satellite services through the community aggregator model;
- the Connecting Canadians program overall project coverage;
- the Connect to Innovate program overall project areas for those announced projects with signed Contribution Agreements;
- the 50/10 Mbps broadband national coverage;
- the 5/1 Mbps broadband national coverage; and,
- the broadband national coverage shown at the road level.
- The map now includes a more prominent Area Information panel that includes information about Internet service providers (ISP) for any given address, such as:
- ISPs operating in the vicinity of a specific address, their name and available technology;
- ISPs implementing a Connecting Canadians or a Connect to Innovate project in the area, their name and technology proposed; and,
- ISPs providing high capacity transport services (backbone) in the area;
What's the difference between the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) Broadband Internet Coverage Map and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's (ISED) National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map?
ISED and the CRTC collaborate and share the underlying broadband data. This includes comprehensive and accurate service availability maps provided by Canadian Internet service providers and detailed demographic maps derived from the Statistics Canada Census.
For the 2015 CRTC "Review of Basic Telecommunications Services", a static consultation map showing broadband Internet and mobile wireless service availability as of 2014 by technology type, was published by the CRTC. Areas completely lacking 50/10 Mbps services were highlighted. It is important to note that this map is a historical snap-shot of connectivity at a point in time.
As part of the delivery of various broadband programs, ISED updates, the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map. This map represents an up-to-date view of broadband connectivity in Canada. It is a searchable map that displays a summary of currently available services by company and technology. In addition, this map provides users with information about active ISED's broadband projects from the Connecting Canadians and Connect to Innovate programs. Finally, in support of program delivery, it also shows a current assessment of areas where the majority of households have access to 50/10 Mbps and 5/1 Mbps.
The data found on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map corresponds with National Broadband Data available on the Government of Canada Open Data portal.
Why do I still see hexagons on the map? I thought you got rid of them.
Hexagons on the map are used to visually convey information about Internet service availability and speeds. They display broad information about current available speeds, as well as about areas where broadband investments are in-progress. They enable users to quickly view, at the national or provincial level for example, what the 50/10 Mbps coverage picture is across the country.
Under the Universal Broadband Fund, road segment information were used to determine eligible project areas.
Could I have applied in a partially served hexagon?
Hexagons have been included for display purposes only to provide users with a means to view the data from a very broad perspective. The Universal Broadband Fund does not use hexagons to determine program eligibility. Instead, it uses 250 metre road segments as shown on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map and Eligibility Mapping Tool.
How often does Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada update the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map?
The National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map and Eligibility Mapping Tool are updated with new project information as it becomes available. Projects chosen under the Universal Broadband Fund will be added once a signed Contribution Agreement is in place.
Annually, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada works with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to collect updated Internet coverage from Internet service providers and typically publishes updates to this coverage information on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map and Eligibility Mapping Tool in August.
If you would like to provide updated coverage or to find out more about the collection process for updating the map, please contact us to determine next steps by telephone: 1-800-328-6189 or email.
What do I do if I disagree with the coverage on the map?
The speeds of available services shown on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map reflect the maximum advertised speeds that are available from those Internet service providers at those locations. This data represents the best possible determination of service availability shown to the 250 metre road segment level; however, Canada is very large and some errors or omissions are possible.
Canadian Internet service providers have supported this mapping initiative and work collaboratively to improve and correct any discrepancies.
If users have information that contradicts what is shown on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, they are encouraged to first contact the Internet service provider in question for initial verification. Once the initial verification has been done, and if the information does appear to be inaccurate, please visit the Broadband network feedback from Internet service providers page for more information on next steps.
Projects under the Rapid Response Stream could not contest map information.
If a discrepancy affected your application to the Universal Broadband Fund, please follow the guidance in our application guide. Please note that we cannot guarantee that mapping discrepancies can be resolved during this call for applications under the Universal Broadband Fund.
I am an Internet service provider and my coverage is not included on your map. What do I do?
If you are an Internet service provider and you have not provided updates to the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, please email your updates to us using the broadband coverage feedback form. Further instruction can be found on the Broadband network feedback from Internet service providers page.
Information provided through this process will be included on upcoming releases of the map and shared with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Please note that we could not guarantee that mapping discrepancies can be resolved during this call for applications under the Universal Broadband Fund.
What is Innovation, Science and Economic Development doing when it assesses my project map? What data does it use?
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will use the coverage areas (i.e. shapes) within the project map to determine the potential impact (i.e. scope) of the project. This will include an assessment of the number of potential households, the level of interaction with current projects and existing Internet Service availability. Further, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will use this area to determine the number of Indigenous households and very remote areas contained within the proposal.
The Eligibility Mapping Tool combined with the Eligibility and Impacts Template provided applicants with the information necessary to scope their projects around existing Internet Services and ongoing projects ensuring that their project areas do not duplicate existing services and are eligible for potential funding.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Capacity Agreement
How will the Government use the $600 million for LEO satellites?
Given Canada's large and varied geography, the Government recognizes that advanced satellite technologies will play an important role in addressing connectivity needs in the hardest to reach rural and remote areas.
Budget 2019 included a commitment to secure advanced LEO satellite capacity to help bring reliable high-speed Internet access to even the most challenging rural and remote homes and communities in Canada. This will be used in satellite dependent communities and those without access to fibre in rural and remote areas. Securing broadband capacity on Telesat LEO constellation will position Canada to leverage a private sector led opportunity to reach rural and remote Canadians with broadband coverage, thereby helping to achieve the broadband objectives established in Budget 2019.
Will Telesat offer Internet services directly to consumers?
No. Telesat does not provide broadband service directly to households. Rather, Telesat provides satellite capacity to Internet service providers. These Internet service providers then build the necessary local access infrastructure to bring Internet services to residences, businesses and public institutions in remote communities.
When will service be available to Canadians?
Telesat anticipates that capacity will be available to service Canada's far North in 2022. Coverage will be available to the rest of Canada in 2023.
Which communities are eligible under this agreement?
Telesat's LEO Satellite capacity will be offered for purchase to Internet service providers at a reduced price with priority given to Internet service providers who operate in satellite dependent communities and then to other eligible communities in rural and remote areas without access to fibre. Additionally satellite dependent communities are shown as a layer on the National Broadband Service Availability Map
How does LEO support Canada's Connectivity Strategy?
The Government recognizes that a mix of technologies will be needed to achieve the long-term goal of universal access at 50/10 Mbps.
This includes taking advantage of promising new technologies such as LEO satellite constellations, which are poised to be able to offer faster speeds, and transmission delay that is comparable to wired technologies.
That is why in July 2019, the Government of Canada announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Telesat to secure LEO satellite capacity on Telesat's planned LEO constellation, with a government contribution of up to $600 million.
This agreement will help ensure that Canadian homes and businesses even the most challenging northern and remote areas will have access to high-speed Internet. This satellite capacity could also be used to support mobile wireless services in remote communities.
When can I apply for funding for LEO satellite coverage?
If you are an Internet service provider interested in purchasing this LEO capacity at a reduced price, we invite you to contact Telesat. Telesat anticipates that LEO satellites will begin deployment in 2022.
Applications to support LEO connectivity could have been made through the Universal Broadband Fund.
Could I have applied under Universal Broadband Fund for a project using Telesat LEO capacity? Was ground infrastructure eligible? Was satellite capacity acquisition from Telesat eligible?
Like any other satellite project application under the Universal Broadband Fund, applications for ground infrastructure to support LEO connectivity could have been made. The acquisition of satellite capacity may have been eligible if funding ratios and other criteria such as sustainability were met.
How is LEO satellite technology different from traditional satellites?
LEO satellites operate at less than 2,000 km from the surface of the Earth, compared to approximately 36,000 km for traditional geostationary satellites. Orbiting closer to the Earth reduces the latency of data (the time it takes to send and receive information from satellites to ground stations such as satellite dishes) as compared to traditional telecommunications satellites, improving speed and performance. Using a constellation of LEO satellites — organized groups of satellites in complementary orbits — allows these satellites to provide global coverage and facilitate the reuse of spectrum frequencies in multiple locations.
Next-generation LEO technology is expected to supply 50/10 Mbps broadband connectivity to the hardest-to-reach rural and remote communities (e.g., the North) in the next several years. Performance of these systems can drastically improve service quality in communities where fibre backbone is not available, at a significantly lower cost than deploying fibre to connect remote and Northern satellite-dependent communities. This level of service will enable real-time applications in rural and remote areas including cloud services, telemedicine, and teleworking.
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