MONCTON (GNB) – Seventy-three thousand rural New Brunswick households will have access to high speed Internet service thanks to an agreement with Xplornet (XCI) to undertake upgrades to the province’s rural broadband.

“An important observation that has been made during the COVID-19 pandemic is an increased sense of urgency for access to quality broadband,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman, who is also minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation. “Today’s announcement is another example of how our government is committed to energizing the private sector and building vibrant and sustainable communities.”

The Phase 2 goals are:

  • provide 63,000 rural households with access to internet service with up to 100 Megabits per second (Mbps);
  • provide an additional 10,000 rural households located in remote areas of the province with access to satellite service with up to 25 Mbps; and
  • ensure 97 per cent of rural households in New Brunswick have access to broadband internet at the universal service objective speed or higher, while the remaining three per cent of rural households receive broadband internet by satellite.

“Now more than ever, Canadians living in rural areas need reliable broadband internet service,” said federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc. “Once complete, more New Brunswickers will be able to better access educational resources, help their businesses grow, and access the essential services they need.”

LeBlanc spoke on behalf of federal Rural Economic Development Minister Maryam Monsef.

The project’s second phase will cost $131 million, with Xplornet investing $91 million and the balance of $40 million coming from the Rural and Northern Communities stream of the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Phase 1 was funded in 2018 with a $10-million non-repayable contribution from the province and a $20-million investment by Xplornet and is now complete. As a result, major upgrades to the province’s rural broadband have commenced and 10,000 rural households and businesses have access to faster and more reliable internet service in alignment with universal broadband internet service standards set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in 2016, stating that Canadians should be able to access speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.

Today’s announcement is the next step in the government’s plan to bring faster internet speeds to rural New Brunswick over the next four years.

“Our work with the Province of New Brunswick and the Government of Canada have helped make our home province a leader in Internet connectivity,” said Allison Lenehan, president and CEO of Xplornet Communications Inc. “We are grateful for their support and are excited to get to work on connecting New Brunswickers to this next-generation broadband network.”

“Upgrading rural broadband is part of the province’s broader strategy to update its digital infrastructure,” said the minister responsible for economic development and small business, Arlene Dunn, who is also minister responsible for Opportunities NB. “We are exploring several ways to embrace new technology such as 5G in our recovery plan for the province.”