May 13, 2021
Protecting Manitobans, Advancing Manitoba by Improving Broadband and Cellular Service in Communities and Along Transportation Corridors: Pallister, Helw
Following a competitive tendering process, the Manitoba government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xplornet Communications Inc. to connect more than 125,000 unserved or underserved Manitobans to reliable, high-speed internet services, Premier Brian Pallister and Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced today.
“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,” said 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 Communications Inc. will provide broadband services to nearly 30 First Nations, and approximately 270 rural and northern communities. Additionally this agreement will also serve 350 communities with cellphone access, the premier noted.
“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,” said Allison Lenehan, president and CEO, Xplornet.
Through Manitoba Hydro, the province owns thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable across Manitoba, however much of the network is surplus, unused capacity. The network was created to communicate with northern hydroelectric facilities and transmit data. The province led a multi-stage, open competitive process and an independent third-party fairness monitor oversaw it. Through this agreement, the government will make this surplus capacity available to Xplornet to expand its broadband and cellphone services to Manitobans, as early as this 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,” Helwer. “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 are collaborating to finalize the contract in the coming weeks.