Universal Broadband Fund – E-blast #4 – January 2021

Dear applicants,

ISED is taking many steps to accelerate the broadband infrastructure deployment in Canada, including making more funding available in the short term through the Rapid Response Stream, which is no longer accepting applications. It is important that communities have access to quality Internet services quickly, especially in the current context, so the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program also includes criteria to ensure that projects are implemented smoothly and efficiently.

Among these criteria, the UBF now assesses access to passive infrastructure such as towers, poles, rights of way or similar assets. This new comparative criteria was implemented as a result of the delays that some projects encountered in previous broadband programs. As the UBF is a competitive process, demonstrating your ability to access passive infrastructure, or your willingness to provide passive infrastructure, is another way for your project to stand out.

For applicants who will require access to third party infrastructure, those who secure this access before submitting an application demonstrate that their project is well prepared and will therefore be assessed more favourably. Similarly, those who can prove that they are already taking action to secure access to these infrastructures could be assessed more positively than those who have not been proactive. Evidence that might strengthen your application could include:

  • A signed contract with the external owner;
  • Proofs that permits are acquired or in the process of being acquired; and/or
  • A letter of support from the external owner demonstrating good faith and specifying, if possible, the terms of the upcoming agreement

Applicants owning passive infrastructure that could be used by third parties will also be assessed based on their ability to make it more easily accessible. Those who are able to submit a letter of commitment from their senior management may be more positively regarded than those who do not demonstrate they are collaborating with providers that need to leverage their networks. More concretely, here are some measures that could be put in place and specified in the above-mentioned letter:

  • Participating in a key passive infrastructure assets owners coordinating committee meeting on a regular and ongoing basis;
  • Establishing a "dig-once" policy and letting third parties lay their fibre at the same time as other infrastructures are being built;
  • Streamlining and accelerating permit emissions, administrative process and/or access contracts;
  • Lowering or cancelling attachment rates and replacement costs on the infrastructures; and/or
  • Leveraging existing dark fibre or other existing network not currently being used.

Collaborating with different communities and players in the telecommunications sector and contributing to a faster and more efficient deployment of broadband infrastructure in Canada could make your application more competitive. For more details and clarifications on our passive infrastructure policies, please refer to our application guide. Please note that it is also still possible to register for our webinar sessions, some of which may enlighten you on our various comparative criteria.

Still have questions? Contact us at get-connected@canada.ca