Further broadband upgrades coming to rural New Brunswick via provincial partnership with XPlornet

New Brunswick – The government of New Brunswick claims 73,000 rural New Brunswick households will soon have access to high speed Internet service thanks to an agreement with Xplornet (XCI) to undertake upgrades to rural broadband service across the province.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman, also minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation, said COVID-19 allowed for the “important observation” that attention to the lacking broadband availability in rural areas of the province was needed, and better access created.

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.

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.

The Higgs government claims the announcement is the next step in the 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 ,” said Allison Lenehan, president and CEO of Xplornet Communications Inc., said the deal with the province and the feds will make the province a “leader in Internet connectivity”.

“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, said the plan will also be “exploring several ways to embrace new technology such as 5G in our recovery plan for the province”.