Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled C$750 million ($580 million) in additional funds to extend the reach of high-speed Internet to rural and northern communities in Canada.
The new spending brings the Universal Broadband Fund, an initiative to provide broadband services to 98% of households by 2026, to a total of C$1.75 billion, according to government documents released Monday. The governing Liberals aim to have the entire country connected by 2030.
“Now more than ever, Canadians need reliable access to high-speed Internet as we work, learn, and communicate with our family and friends from home,” Trudeau said in a statement.
The announcement comes as Trudeau faces pressure to beef up the nation’s high-speed Internet infrastructure, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing people to work from home, increasing the demand for broadband outside main urban centers.
The funding will include a C$150 million Rapid Response Stream, earmarked for projects ready to begin immediately. At least part of the spending will go to the Canada Infrastructure Bank, according to the statement.
“The investments that we’ve announced today are meant to support the hardest-to-reach places across the country where the business case to invest is simply not there,” Maryam Monsef, minister for women and rural economic development, said in a phone interview. “Rural Canada never fully recovered from the 2008 recession and broadband access could have made a world of difference to those communities.”
Trudeau also announced the completion of a C$600 million deal with Telesat Canada to connect remote communities with high-speed Internet using low-earth-orbit satellite.
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