Universal Broadband Fund receiving applications

The federal government has launched the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) with the objective of providing broadband service to 98% of Canadians by 2026. The UBF is designed to connect Canadians living in rural and remote communities to high-speed Internet at speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps. The program will fund a range of eligible applicants - including local governments and Indigenous entities - to extend broadband infrastructure in areas that do not currently have access to this level of high-speed Internet.

B.C. local governments have long called for increased federal and provincial funding to improve broadband access in rural and remote communities. UBCM met with The Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, in March to highlight the critical importance of broadband for economic development in rural and northern communities. Broadband connectivity was also the focus of a Special Resolution (SR6) endorsed at the 2020 UBCM Convention. 

The $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund will be administered by the federal government. In addition to funding a range of high-speed internet projects, the program will also deliver:

  • up to $750 million for large impact projects; 
  • $50 million for mobile projects that primarily support Indigenous communities; and 
  • up to $150 million as part of a Rapid Response Stream for projects that can be started and completed quickly.

“The health orders of the pandemic have underscored the vital need for improved broadband access in rural communities,” said Councillor Brian Frenkel, President of the Union of B.C. Municipalities. “Dependable, fast Internet access is vital for sustainable economic development in B.C. communities, and it is also necessary at this time to support online learning, health and emergency services. I am very pleased to see this program open for business with a focus on the accelerated delivery of funding.”

The UBF is providing a dedicated support desk for applicants and may be contacted via email or by calling 1 (800) 328-6189. A federal representative will respond to queries within three business days.

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