The Connect to Innovate program is now closed for applications.
The program supports projects that are expected to be completed by March 31, 2021. There are five different types of eligible backbone and last-mile projects, but a variety of possible combinations, including a hybrid of both backbone and last-mile infrastructure projects. However, at least one of the following categories described below of backbone and last-mile infrastructure projects were required:
- New backbone: Program funding is primarily directed to communities identified by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada as lacking a backbone connection of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) or more.
- Backbone upgrade: Communities which had at least a 1 Gbps backbone connection were considered eligible for upgrades if the applicant could clearly demonstrate a capacity constraint.
- Network resiliency: Network resiliency projects are projects where a new fibre backbone route is deployed to provide an alternate data path, increasing network reliability and resiliency for all users.
- New last-mile: Projects proposing to connect households or businesses that lacked service at speeds of 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload were eligible in completely underserved areas.
- Partially served last-mile: Areas were considered partially or completely served at speeds of 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. Projects proposing to connect households or businesses that remained underserved in these areas were eligible if the applicant could clearly demonstrate these households or businesses did not have access to speeds of 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.
Eligible recipients under the program included entities or groups of entities that are incorporated in Canada, that operate Internet infrastructure, and that meet the assessment criteria. Entities or groups of entities that do not operate Internet infrastructure were eligible provided that they had identified an entity or group of entities that would build, own and operate the network. These included private sector companies, provincial, territorial, and municipal entities, and not-for- profit organizations. Individuals and federal entities (including Crown corporations) were not eligible.
Applicants had to identify who would build, own and operate the network, as well as who would manage the project. If the entity making an application to the program did not itself have a track record in operating Internet infrastructure, the applicant had to demonstrate that appropriate resources with experience deploying and operating Internet infrastructure were part of the project team and or contracted resources.