A Canada-PEI Partnership announced Thursday morning will dedicate up to $20 million to connecting all properties on the island to high-speed internet.
The Government of Prince Edward Island is committed to connecting 95% of the province by 2023 and 100% by 2025. Prince Edward Island’s Minister of Economic Growth Edward, Matthew MacKay, told a press conference in Charlottetown that there would be about 2,000 homes left to be connected. after 2023.
“We knew the last mile, we call it, was going to take a little more creativity in the infrastructure,” MacKay said.
“Trees, hills, valleys, roads that maybe only have one or two houses, that also makes it difficult, but we knew we were going to have to deal with that at some point.”
The cost of the project will be split equally between the federal and provincial governments. The $10 million portion of PEI. comes from the PEI Broadband Fund.
Federal Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, also present at the Charlottetown press conference, said the federal government would also invest $1.5 million in a short-term project in partnership with Island Telecom and Xplornet to connect 1,046 households in 56 communities.
Both Hutchings and MacKay stressed the importance of supplementing internet connections for the continued economic development of the island.
RFPs will be issued for these last 2,000 connections. Companies will be required to provide internet speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. Subsidies for Islanders currently using other providers, such as StarLink, will continue.
“They have to be affordable, there have to be 50/10 speeds, they have to be scalable as well,” Hutchings said.
“We don’t want to have to come back in a few years and say, oh, 50/10 isn’t it anymore.”
Hutchings said she is confident the money set aside in the current partnership will be enough to see the project through.
As part of the project, a map will be created where Islanders can track progress as the final five percent of properties are connected.
The partnership is part of Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, with funding from the Universal Broadband Fund.