Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Canada’s government sees broadband as an impetus for innovation and a necessity for its people, and Wisconsin companies in that sector could benefit from the demand for such technology.
Canada is making a major commitment to expand broadband throughout the country.
In 2020, Canada’s government announced a program, High-Speed Access for All: Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, allocating $1.75 billion CAD ($1.4 billion USD) to a Universal Broadband Fund to help finance the ability to connect all residents with reliable, high-speed internet.
The goal was to reach 95% of Canadians by 2026 and to achieve 100% connectivity by 2030, providing internet service at download speeds of 50 megabits per second and upload speeds of 10 megabits per second.
As of 2017, only 37% of rural households had access to broadband with that level of capacity—and only 24% of Indigenous households—while in urban areas, 97% of homes could tap into high-speed internet at those rates, the government said in its 2020 program announcement. That type of capacity is needed for cloud-based software, online learning, telehealth and high-definition video streaming. It is an essential component of the knowledge economy and the ability of a company to conduct business and compete globally.
In an updated report in 2022, Canada said it now plans to reach 98% of Canadians by 2026 and 100% by 2030.
The Universal Broadband Fund includes:
- Up to $50 million CAD ($39.7 million USD) for mobile internet projects aimed at Indigenous communities, including projects along roads without adequate mobile connectivity
- Up to $750 million CAD ($595.7 million USD) for large, high-impact projects
- Up to $5 million CAD ($4 million USD) for a Rapid Response Stream for shovel-ready projects that will have a big impact on rural and remote areas
Meanwhile, the Canadian government announced in April 2022 that it is partnering with 14 internet service providers across the country to offer the high-speed broadband service to low-income families and senior citizens for $20 per month.
“Being connected to the internet in this day and age is no longer a luxury. Simply put, it’s a necessity,” said Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings. “This will not only help families and seniors stay connected to their loved ones but also allow for so much more, like access to online learning and health care services, which has been especially challenging in rural communities.”
As part of its connectivity strategy, the Canadian government also is challenging small businesses to develop a cost-competitive fiber optic sensing technology that can be used for purposes ranging from monitoring the structural health of bridges to electric vehicle battery performance.
Broadband helps facilitate the development of inventions, improved goods and services, new processes and business models, and it increases competitiveness and flexibility in the economy. Canada’s investment in a comprehensive connectivity strategy will benefit residents and businesses within the country and could also provide an opportunity for Wisconsin companies to offer their advanced technologies to become part of the effort.