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Feds, province announce $318M to extend broadband to Northern Ontario

Programming will help 50,000 rural households in region

The federal and provincial governments are pledging a combined $318 million to bring broadband infrastructure to all reaches of Northern Ontario.

In a joint Aug. 6 announcement, the governments said the funds would help bring high-speed internet to more than 50,000 rural households in the region.

It’s part of a federal-provincial joint partnership, announced on July 29, in support of large-scale, fibre-based projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to all corners of the province by 2025.

Additionally, the release said, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is assessing opportunities proposed through the Universal Broadband Fund to provide additional financing on a project-by-project basis toward significant expansion of broadband in partnership with private and institutional investors.

In a separate announcement, the province said it's investing $109.2 million in Telesat Lightspeed, a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite network being developed by the Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat.

(Low earth orbit satellites have much lower latency (signal travel time between Earth and the satellites) compared to current communications satellites, allowing for faster internet speeds.)

With its investment, the province said it's securing 40 gigabits of dedicated high-speed satellite bandwidth for local internet service providers to purchase at reduced rates, enabling them to provide affordable, high-speed connectivity services, including LTE and 5G, to various communities across the province.

"Supporting Telesat is an investment in economic growth and good jobs in Ontario now and on the horizon,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, in a release.

“This is an investment in continued research and development, and the commercialization of satellite technologies in Ontario with economic benefits that will resonate in communities across the province."

According to the province, the network is expected to go into operation in the first half of 2024.

The province is aiming to connect 100 per cent of Ontarians by 2025, while the federal government wants to see 100 per cent of Canadians connected by 2030.