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Province Announces Plan to Expand Broadband Services

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This week, it was announced that the provincial government has signed a memorandum of understanding to connect more than 125,000 unserved or underseved Manitobans to reliable high-speed internet services.

The province has awarded the contract to Xplornet Communications Inc.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of broadband connectivity and the need to ensure Manitobans have access to critical and timely information and services no matter where they live, work or travel in Manitoba,” says Premier Brian Pallister. “We recognize the social and economic benefit of a connected Manitoba, and we are pleased to partner with Xplornet, one of Canada’s leading broadband service providers, to provide reliable, high-speed internet and cell services to Manitobans who have gone without these services for far too long.”

The agreement between the province and Xplornet will provide broadband services to approximately 270 rural communities and 30 First Nations. The agreement will also connect about 350 communities with cellphone access.

Many local communities in the rural southeast will benefit from this broadband investment, including Île-des-Chênes, New Bothwell, Otterburne, Landmark, Lorette, Blumenort, Kleefeld, and Mitchell.

“Xplornet looks forward to collaborating with the government of Manitoba and accelerating our facilities-based network investment plans to deliver improved speeds and unlimited data plans at affordable prices to rural Manitoban homes and businesses,” says Allison Lenehan, President and CEO of Xplornet.

The project will utilize thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable owned by Manitoba Hydro. Much of this network’s capacity is unused. It was created to communicate with northern hydroelectric facilities and transmit data.

Through this agreement, the government will make the Manitoba Hydro network’s surplus capacity available to Xplornet to expand its broadband and cellphone services to Manitobans, with services being provided as early as the upcoming fall.

“This innovative agreement makes use of an existing resource already in place that will help protect Manitobans and advance the connectivity between Manitobans and communities throughout the province,” Reg Helwer, Minister of Central Services. “Access to Manitoba Hydro’s fibre-optic network and tower infrastructure will also greatly reduce the capital investments Xplornet needs to expand into rural and remote communities, allowing for a positive return on investment and the quick delivery of service to Manitobans.”

The Manitoba government, Manitoba Hydro, and Manitoba Hydro Telecom will be collaborating to finalize the contract in the coming weeks.

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