$20M project aims to complete high-speed internet connections across P.E.I.

·2 min read
$20M project aims to complete high-speed internet connections across P.E.I.

A Canada-P.E.I. partnership announced Thursday morning will dedicate up to $20 million toward connecting every property on the Island to high-speed internet.

The P.E.I. government has pledged to have 95 per cent of the province connected by 2023, and 100 per cent by 2025. P.E.I. Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay, speaking at a news conference in Charlottetown, said the there will be about 2,000 homes left to connect after 2023.

"We knew that last mile, we call it, was going to take a little bit more creativity in infrastructure," said MacKay.

"Trees, hills, valleys, roads that might only have one or two houses on them, that also makes it challenging, but we knew we were going to have to deal with that at some point."

The cost of the project will be split evenly between the federal and provincial governments. P.E.I.'s $10 million portion comes from the existing P.E.I. Broadband Fund.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

Federal Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, also at the Charlottetown news conference, said the federal government is also putting up $1.5 million for a short-term project in partnership with Island Telecom and Xplornet to connect 1,046 homes in 56 communities.

Both Hutchings and MacKay stressed the importance of completing internet connections for the continuing economic development of the Island.

RFPs will be issued for those last 2,000 connections. Companies will be required to provide internet speeds of 50 Mbps for download, and 10 Mbps for upload. Subsidies for Islanders currently using other providers, such as StarLink, will continue.

"They have to be affordable, it has to be speeds of 50/10, it has to be scalable as well," said Hutchings.

"We don't want to have to come back in a few years and say, oh, 50/10 isn't it anymore."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Hutchings said she was confident the money set aside in the current partnership will be enough to complete the project.

As part of the project a map will be created where Islanders will be able to watch the progress as the last five per cent of properties are connected.

The partnership is part of Canada's Connectivity Strategy, with funding coming from the Universal Broadband Fund.

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