Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed to connect nearly 150K to high-speed internet

March 24, 2021
The Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, and ISP's Vidéotron, Cogeco, Bell, Xplornet, Sogetel and TELUS are partnering to launch the extensive Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed program.

The Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, and Internet service providers (ISPs) Vidéotron, Cogeco, Bell, Xplornet, Sogetel, and TELUS are partnering to launch the extensive Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed, to connect nearly 150,000 underserved homes to high-speed Internet by September 2022. This operation is made possible by an equal investment totalling $826.3 million from the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier François Legault were joined on March 22 by the country's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, and Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier of Quebec (high-speed Internet) Gilles Bélanger to make the program's announcement.

Per a statement from the Prime Minister's office, "In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, when access to quality Internet service has become even more critical, it is imperative to think outside the box in order to accelerate the implementation of this service. By working with ISPs, establishing a deadline and penalties for these new contracts, and covering 100 per cent of the homes in the project area, we will ensure that the operation is completed quickly."

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, commented, "Over the past year, many people have worked from home, studied from their kitchen table, shopped online, and accessed government services remotely. So it's more important than ever that everyone has access to high-speed Internet. We are working closely with the Quebec government to build strong communities and a more resilient future for all."

The official statement noted:

Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed will give Quebec the highest connectivity rate in Canada with a 99 per cent coverage rate. The 150,000 homes that will be connected as part of today's announcement are in addition to the 66,000 homes already connected through other programs from the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec.
The Government of Canada has committed billions of dollars to rural and remote Internet infrastructure, including $1.75 billion through the Universal Broadband Fund. This funding will help grow businesses, create jobs, and ensure that 98 per cent of Canadians will have high-speed Internet access by 2026, with the goal of reaching the entire population by 2030.
To date, the Quebec government alone has invested more than $1 billion to accelerate high-speed Internet access for all Quebecers by fall 2022. In order to reach the goal of optimal connectivity throughout the country in 2022, 36,000 households still need to be served.
These households are located in particularly hard-to-reach areas and sparsely populated regions. Technological solutions are currently being considered and the strategy to reach these homes by 2022 will be announced at a later date.

François Legault, Premier of Quebec, commented, "Today, we are announcing an unprecedented agreement on high-speed Internet. We are starting a major acceleration of the rollout throughout Quebec. This is a giant leap forward towards fulfilling our commitment to connect all Quebecers by fall 2022. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that high-speed Internet is an essential service for distance learning, working remotely, and staying connected with our loved ones. It is absolutely essential when starting and developing a business. It's a vital economic lever for the growth of all our regions."

Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier of Quebec (high-speed Internet), added, "With today's announcement, Quebec has truly become the first in Canada when it comes to connecting its population to high-speed Internet. To get to this point, we had to change the way we do things in order to speed things up. I would like to thank our partners who helped make this announcement a reality. We were able to overcome challenges to reach this unprecedented agreement. This is proof that we can challenge the status quo when we all work together. Access to reliable, high-performance Internet services is essential to ensure the vitality of our regions."

The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said, "People in rural Quebec are in dire need of reliable connectivity. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how important it is to have access to digital broadband services. By investing in these projects through the Connect to Innovate program and the Universal Broadband Fund, we can help bridge the digital divide, stimulate economic growth, and create jobs."

Service Provider comments

Concurrent to the Canadian government's announcement of the program, several of the ISPs involved released their own statements.

Cogeco Communications Inc. announced that, as part of the program, Cogeco Connexion, its Canadian broadband subsidiary, will carry out 13 high-speed Internet network expansion projects in several regions of Québec, in collaboration with the provincial and federal governments. Once these projects are completed, more than 54,000 homes and businesses will be connected to Cogeco's high-speed Internet services, including 35,880 primary residences identified by the Government of Québec as part of the program. These digital infrastructure investment projects are scheduled to be completed by September 2022.

"Our expertise in rolling out high-speed Internet and our ongoing commitment to serving the regions, coupled with the governments' decision to accelerate investments in connectivity, will help bridge the digital divide between major cities and rural regions," said Philippe Jetté, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Communications Inc. He added: "Connectivity is essential to ensure digital inclusion in our society and is a powerful driving force for the economic and social development of our communities. We applaud the governments' vision and the collaboration between the levels of government that will make this major strategic project a success for Québec. And we are very proud to be contributing to it."

"Our teams are already hard at work to develop and deploy these major high-speed connectivity projects," stated Frédéric Perron, President of Cogeco Connexion. "Thanks to the government's collaboration, we can continue supporting our communities and contributing to the economic vitalily of rural regions by accelerating the expansion of our network and leveraging the latest technological advances."

For its part, Videotron announced that it will participate in the Operation High Speed project by connecting 37,000 currently underserved households outside Québec's urban centers by October of 2022.

Jean-François Pruneau, President and CEO, Videotron, commented, "Videotron is ready to take up this challenge and our people are already gearing up to start working on the ground within the next few days. The number of households the governments have allocated to us is a testament to Videotron's expertise and ability to carry out large-scale projects. We are very pleased that they are placing their trust in us. I know that all the stakeholders involved in this project share the same commitment and will put in place the measures needed to achieve the objectives."

Other comments from Canadian ISPs included the following:

  • "Bell is committed to building the best networks, and we are proud to apply our leadership to connect Quebec. Whether as a network builder or as an infrastructure owner, Bell is ready to contribute to this major project and determined to transform the way that Quebecers communicate with each other and the rest of the world. Collaboration and rigorous execution by all stakeholders are key to the success of this historic project, and Bell has put the required processes in place for everyone to work together and ensure its success." — Karine Moses, President, Quebec Division, Bell
  • "As a pioneer in the rollout of Internet in rural areas, Xplornet is proud to support the Quebec government in its determination to connect all Quebecers to high-speed Internet by 2022. This is a historic time for the economic development of our regions, and Xplornet is doing its part to connect over 23,000 families." — Charles Beaudet, Vice-President Quebec, Xplornet Communications Inc.
  • "We are proud to step up our efforts to connect Quebecers as quickly as possible. For the past 12 years, Sogetel has been deploying fibre optics on a massive scale in underserved areas. This project is in line with the mission of our company, which has been serving rural communities since its founding, in 1892. Our team is ready to take on this challenge!" — Richard Biron, Vice-President, Corporate Development, Sogetel
  • "The 6,000 TELUS team members across the province would like to salute the active contribution of the governments of Quebec and Canada in the rollout of high-speed Internet services. Over the past 20 years, we have invested close to $30 billion in our infrastructure and operations in Quebec, including $300 million for the deployment of fibre optics in the regions. We are already providing high-speed Internet access to 99 per cent of homes in the regions we serve. These joint investments will allow us to accelerate the deployment of our PureFibre network to reach almost all families and businesses. More than ever, connectivity is critical to economic recovery, to improving access to virtual health care, and to connecting Quebecers to essential digital resources." — François Gratton, Executive Vice-President of TELUS and CEO of TELUS Health, TELUS Agriculture and TELUS Quebec

View the official press release for Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed.

Sponsored Recommendations

Coherent Routing and Optical Transport – Getting Under the Covers

April 11, 2024
Join us as we delve into the symbiotic relationship between IPoDWDM and cutting-edge optical transport innovations, revolutionizing the landscape of data transmission.

Data Center Network Advances

April 2, 2024
Lightwave’s latest on-topic eBook, which AFL and Henkel sponsor, will address advances in data center technology. The eBook looks at various topics, ranging...

Supporting 5G with Fiber

April 12, 2023
Network operators continue their 5G coverage expansion – which means they also continue to roll out fiber to support such initiatives. The articles in this Lightwave On ...

FTTx Deployment Strategies

March 29, 2023
Cable operators continue to deploy fiber in their networks at anincreasing rate. As fiber grows in importance, proper choices regardinghow to best fit fiber to the home together...