The government of Manitoba is making a contribution valued at up to $20 million to provide increased broadband connection to First Nations, rural and northern Manitoba communities, Premier Brian Pallister announced today. This is Manitoba’s contribution to a $63-million project to bring high-speed Internet to 72 rural and remote communities in the province.
“There is tremendous potential in northern Manitoba. Developing that potential is a priority of our provincial government and to do that we need the tools to maximize our opportunities,” said Pallister. “This exciting project to increase and deliver reliable access to broadband networks is key to unlocking the potential of our remote northern communities. This enhanced service will create economic opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities, and improve the health and quality of life of all residents across this vast region.”
Manitoba Hydro will allow Clear Sky Communications, a Manitoba First Nations-owned and -operated Internet service provider, to access and utilize existing fibre-optic cable network and related assets. Once completed, the broadband project will include 10-gigabit ethernet fibre connections that will provide 72 communities – 37 of which are First Nations and 18 are located in remote regions of northern Manitoba – and 88 institutions with access to high-speed Internet services on par with southern urban areas.
This project is part of the federal government’s five-year Connect to Innovate program designed to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities.
“Access to high-speed Internet is not a luxury; it’s essential. High-speed Internet service is a basic tool that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of their postal code. Canadians need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities. Thanks to our Connect to Innovate program, more Canadians will be able to participate fully in the digital economy,”Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said.
“Manitoba Hydro is pleased to be a part of today’s announcement with this valuable in-kind contribution,” said Kelvin Shepherd, president and CEO, Manitoba Hydro. “By providing access to capacity on our existing fibre network, we are helping to facilitate bringing broadband high-speed communications and internet – and the enhanced economic and educational opportunities that brings – to even more Manitobans. This is a great way to leverage our existing infrastructure without incremental costs to our customers.”
The Look North Report and Action Plan for Manitoba’s Northern Economy was released on Oct. 20, 2017, outlining a path forward to build stronger partnerships and a brighter economic future in the north. The report highlighted access to broadband as a priority area and one of the most common topics to arise in discussions with northerners last year. In fact, nearly every community the Look North Task Force met with spoke of the need for high-speed internet as a key economic driver for unlocking the potential of remote communities.
“The Look North Report and Action Plan includes priority areas to focus on in order to build a robust and sustainable economic future in northern Manitoba, and high-speed internet is one of these areas,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke. “We are pleased to partner with the federal government on this project which will help modernize and transform the economic future of the region.”