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Universal Broadband Fund

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

The Universal Broadband Fund program is now closed for applications

The $2.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund supports high-speed Internet projects across the country. These projects will bring Internet at speeds of 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) to rural and remote communities. The funding includes:

  • up to $50 million for mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples, including projects along highways and roads where mobile connectivity is lacking;
  • up to $750 million for large, high-impact projects;
  • through a Rapid Response Stream for shovel-ready projects that can be completed quickly

The Universal Broadband Fund is part of the Government of Canada's coordinated plan to connect all Canadians: High Speed Access for all: Canada's Connectivity Strategy.

It is also consistent with the Government's roadmap for supporting strong and resilient rural communities.

Why is it important?

Today, high-speed Internet access is essential for all Canadians, no matter where they live. It is necessary to telework, to access on-line medicine, for distance learning and more. It helps businesses thrive, no matter where they are located, and it ensures that rural Canadians can transition smoothly to the digital economy. But there is a connectivity gap — Canadians living in rural and remote areas have less access to high-speed Internet than those living in urban areas.

That is why the Government of Canada launched the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to meet the needs of those living in rural and remote communities.

See what services are available in your area

Our National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map provides detailed mapping data that shows available broadband Internet services and infrastructure in Canada. You can use it to find projects, Internet services and Internet service providers in your area.

Our map also includes new, more detailed mapping data so that you can find Internet coverage at the level of 250m road segments. Zoom in close to your area and click "Rural Roads Coverage" on the Layer Selector bar on the left to see this detailed coverage in your area.

It is also the basis of our new Eligibility Mapping Tool, which helped applicants design their projects using the most accurate coverage information available.

Stay current

Subscribe to our e-blast to learn more about the Universal Broadband Fund. Contact us if interested.

Other federal broadband programs

The Government of Canada has several programs supporting high-speed Internet access for all Canadians, especially in rural and remote communities. A list is available on the High Speed Internet for All of Canada page. If you can't find what you are looking for, we would be pleased to help you. Contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the Universal Broadband Fund?

The Universal Broadband Fund is a $2.75 billion program that will provide funding to a range of high-speed Internet projects across the country. It has been designed to fund broadband infrastructure projects that will bring Internet at speeds of 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps), with a focus on rural and remote communities. The fund includes:

  • Up to $750 million for large, high-impact projects;
  • up to $50 million for mobile projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples, including projects along highways and roads where mobile connectivity is lacking; and,
  • a Rapid Response Stream for shovel-ready projects that can be completed quickly.
Q2. When we talk about high-speed Internet, what do we mean?

The Government's goal is for all Canadians to have access to high-speed Internet of at least 50 Megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.

Q3. How has COVID-19 affected plans for rural broadband delivery? What is the Rapid Response Stream?

COVID-19 has highlighted how much we all rely on digital connections now and in the future. It has reinforced the importance of access to high-speed Internet as Canadians are working, learning and communicating with friends and family from home now more than ever.

With the increased investment in the Universal Broadband Fund, we will be able to 98% of Canadians by 2026. This is faster than anticipated in High Speed Access for All — Canada's Connectivity Strategy, which estimated only 95% of Canadians would have access by 2026.

To help achieve this, we included a Rapid Response Stream for the Universal Broadband Fund. This stream is for projects that were able to get started now to connect rural Canadians as soon as possible. Further information can be found on the Rapid Response Stream website.

Q4. Which areas are currently underserved?

There remains significant rural and remote areas of Canada that do not have access to high-speed Internet. According to the latest CRTC Communications Monitoring Report, only 46% of rural households and 35% of First Nations households on reserves have access to 50/10 Mbps service. This is  compared to nearly 99% access in urban households.

Programs like the Universal Broadband Fund are part of the government's strategy to close this gap, along with additional funding from the CRTC, Infrastructure Canada, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and Indigenous Services Canada. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology will also play an important role in connecting all Canadians.

Q5. Who could have applied and what projects were eligible?

The Universal Broadband Fund allowed almost any Canadian entity to submit an application; however, individuals and federal entities were excluded from applying to the program. Eligible applicants were required to have the ability to design, build and run broadband infrastructure and needed to identify who would build, own and operate the broadband network.

Any 250m road segment identified on the National Broadband Internet Availability Map that does not show as having 50/10 Mbps coverage was eligible.

Q6. How are projects being selected?

Projects are being 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 projects that best meet the objectives of the program will be selected.

Stage one involves meeting basic eligibility requirements. Stage two evaluates essential criteria such as managerial capacity, technical feasibility and sustainability, and stage three involves comparing projects in the same geographic area against each other, focusing on relative technical and financial merits, as well as community benefits, such as commitment to local employment.

Q7. Were mobile projects eligible?

Under the Universal Broadband Fund, up to $50 million was set aside to fund mobile projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples. These mobile projects are expected to extend 4G LTE coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas. Projects must target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and roads where the deployment of mobile network coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. Unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could also be eligible.

This will complement a number of Government initiativesalso in place to support mobile projects, such as Connect to Innovate; the CRTC's $750 million Broadband Fund; Investing in Canada Infrastructure program's Rural and Northern Infrastructure Stream ; and programs administered by provincial and territorial governments.

Q8. What are large scale, high-impact projects?

Large scale, high-impact projects were to be transformative in terms of results and scope. They target a large number of households, a large geographic area that leaves no household underserved, greatly improve the speeds offered (e.g. from 5/1 to 50/10) or have a business case that makes sense to involve a partner like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is available to offer low-cost loans for broadband projects.

Q9. Did the Government consult on the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure it meets the needs of all Canadians?

We engaged partners, stakeholders and Canadians to ensure that the Universal Broadband Fund responds to the needs of rural communities.

In developing the program, we met with Internet service providers, municipal organizations, Indigenous organizations, and provinces and territories to ensure that the Universal Broadband Fund responds to needs identified by all partners and stakeholders.

Q10. Are you on track to reach your goal of connecting all Canadians to high-speed Internet, defined as speeds of at least 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload, by 2030?

In High-Speed Access for All: Canada's Connectivity Strategy, the government committed to getting 95% of Canadians connected by 2026 and 100% by 2030. With the launch of the Universal Broadband Fund, this target was accelerated to 98% of Canadians by 2026. The government is on track to achieve this target, by leveraging funding from all levels of government, Indigenous and private sector partners, also to achieve its objective of full 50/10 Mbps broadband coverage in Canada by 2030.

Contact us

Connect with us to answer your questions.

Telephone: 1-800-328-6189

Email: get-connected@canada.ca

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