The CRTC will contribute $72 million from the Broadband Fund to selected projects in northern Manitoba, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories to improve broadband internet services. 

In a release, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission said the first five projects will help improve services to more than 10,000 households in 51 communities.

Selected projects serve communities with broadband internet access services that don’t meet the universal service objective of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds, the release said.

The Broadband Fund provides up to $750 million over five years to support projects that improve broadband internet access services in underserved areas in Canada. The CRTC issued the first call for applications in June 2019 and the second one in November 2019. 

The CRTC expects that fixed broadband internet access will be available to 90 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses by the end of 2021. 

Before projects receive the funding they are expected to complete a statement of work that sets out details of each project, including schedules and cost to the CRTC for approval. Construction for most of these projects will start in the spring of 2021, the CRTC said. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need for reliable communications networks to navigate everyday life, as many Canadians were challenged by poor internet connections,” Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO of the CRTC, said in the release. 

“The initial funding from the CRTC Broadband Fund will improve access to the North and have a positive impact on many communities. We recognize, however, that too many regions across the country are still underserved. The assessment of the applications we received following our second call for applications is a high priority.”

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