Universal Broadband Fund: Rapid Response Stream (RRS) (00012)

The Rapid Response Stream is no longer accepting applications

The objective of the Rapid Response Stream is to improve household access to high-speed Internet as quickly as possible, by funding shovel-ready projects. This will help address immediate broadband needs and speed up the timelines and goals of the Universal Broadband Fund. The RRS will allocate funding of up to $5 million to projects that can be completed quickly and have a big impact on rural and remote areas where Internet service speeds have not yet reached 50/10 Mbps.

Applicantion Documentation

Applications were accepted on an ongoing basis until January 15, 2021. In order to complete their application, applicants had to submit the following documents, which can be accessed through the ISED Broadband Connection:

  • Rapid Response Stream Application form;
  • Rapid Response Stream Eligibility and Impacts Template;
  • Rapid Response Stream Detailed Budget Template;
  • Rapid Response Stream Last-mile Internet Service Offerings;
  • Project maps designed with the Eligibility Mapping Tool;
  • Supporting documents.


Eligible applicants were either:

  • a not-for-profit organization;
  • a for-profit corporation incorporated in Canada;
  • a Canadian provincial, territorial or municipal entity;
  • a Band Council;
  • an Indigenous government authority;
  • a non-federal public sector body; or
  • a partnership of any of the entities listed above;

The applicants or their partners were required to demonstrate their ability to develop broadband networks within the time constraints of this program and in areas that do not already have 50/10 Mbps service according to the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map.

Broadband projects that were already underway  were eligible for this program if they could demonstrate how they planned to expand or upgrade their existing project, but activities already underway were not eligible. Organizations that wanted to deploy new broadband projects in the short term and/or could scale up ongoing projects, but could not do so without public funding support, were eligible and encouraged to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Rapid Response Stream of the Universal Broadband Fund?

The Rapid Response Stream is a stream of the Universal Broadband Fund designed to address immediate connectivity needs. Broadband projects under this stream were to  provide improved service as quickly as possible. This included the deployment of the physical infrastructure and connection of most households targeted by the project. The requirements, the review process and the selection of projects under the Rapid Response Stream were adapted to address the urgent situation due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The goal of the Rapid Response Stream is to increase the number of Canadian households with access to adequate Internet services during this difficult time while Canadians continue to work, learn, and socialize from home and as we move towards economic recovery.

What are the differences between the RRS and the main Universal Broadband Fund program?

The Rapid Response Stream and the main Universal Broadband Fund program are similar in terms of their eligibility requirements and the type of projects they can fund. There are a few differences, including:

  • The Rapid Response Stream is exclusively dedicated to household connectivity. Customer premise equipment (e.g. satellite terminals) was considered as an eligible cost under the Rapid Response Stream if it was required to make the access available. All other eligible costs are the same for the Rapid Response Stream and the main Universal Broadband Fund.
  • The maximum funding contribution under the Rapid Response Stream was $5,000,000, but there is no similar cap under the main Universal Broadband Fund. The maximum sharing ratios that apply to rural, Indigenous, satellite-dependent and very remote communities are the same for both streams.
  • While both programs aim for rapid broadband deployment, the most important difference remains the timelines of the projects. Projects under the Rapid Response Stream should be deployed as quickly as possible, whereas projects under the main Universal Broadband Fund may have until March 31, 2027 to be completed.

All the confidentiality, proactive disclosure, transparency and reporting requirements of the Rapid Response Stream are the same as those of the main Universal Broadband Fund.

How fast can I begin my project under the Rapid Response Stream?

Though we cannot guarantee that all the eligible costs incurred before the Contribution Agreement is finalized would be covered by the funding, this stream tries to encourage applicants to begin work as soon as possible. Project costs incurred after the receipt of Conditional Approval, but before the signing of the Contribution Agreement may be eligible. However, it is not guaranteed that the Contribution Agreement will be signed or that any of the costs incurred during that period would be reimbursed. Applicants are encouraged to contact us for any clarifications.

How were applications assessed?

The Rapid Response Stream operated on a rapid assessment basis such that applications were assessed as they were submitted and approved while the intake period was still ongoing. Applications submitted earlier in the process had a greater chance of being selected than those submitted later.

We  prioritized stronger and complete applications. Note that the review of a project could have been delayed if it:

  • Included areas or households already covered with 50/10Mbps speeds;
  • Did not include all the necessary documentation;
  • Did not meet all the program's requirements and eligibility parameters;
  • Was submitted by an organization or a group of organizations with less managerial, financial and technical expertise or experience; or by an organization with a track record of not meeting deadlines, being late or experiencing significant issues in previous projects.
  • Had not secured or was not close to securing the remaining necessary funding;
  • Aimed to develop slower Internet networks than 50/10Mbps and/or had less ambitious deployment schedules;
  • Had not yet secured its access to third party passive infrastructure if necessary;
  • Did not yet have its municipal permits or showed no indication that these permits would be obtained in the near future.
Was consideration given to the organizational type of the applicants, the type of community targeted or the region of origin of the project?

Rapid Response Stream funding is meant to improve connectivity for Canadians in the immediate term.

Reasonable efforts were made to ensure regional diversity and that funding was available to Indigenous communities, depending on the applications submitted to the program.

Applicants were also encouraged to contact us to identify their best path forward under the available programming.

What is meant by a project that "can be deployed quickly"?

A project "can be deployed quickly" when the applicant can set up and build Internet infrastructure within a short period of time or when it is considered shovel-ready. A project "that can be deployed quickly" should:

  • Have had equipment, materials, human resources, dependencies, plans and remaining funds needed to connect households to high-speed Internet services in the very short term ready and secured;
  • Not required access to third party passive infrastructure, or should already have secured such access if necessary, or should have evidence that access is in the process of being imminently approved; and,
  • Not required a new spectrum license or should already have secured such a license, or should have evidence that the license will be imminently approved; and,
  • Already have had all its municipal permits or have evidence that these permits would be obtained promptly.

Projects were considered unlikely to be deployed rapidly if other sources of funding, the delivery date of necessary materials, or internal resources necessary to implement the project were not secured.

What was the application process for the Rapid Response Stream?

Interested organizations needed to submit their application package within the prescribed timeframe. During this process,  we asked applicants to provide the following information:

  • Application Form
  • Project coverage map(s) generated by the tool with the associated statistics that are paired with the coverage map(s) in kml/kmz format
  • Template 1R — Eligibility and Impacts Calculator
  • Template 2R — Detailed Budget
  • Template 3R — Last Mile Internet Service Offerings
  • Incorporation documents
  • Independently prepared financial statements for the last 3 years
  • Project schedule (Gantt chart)
  • If a project was undertaking infrastructure in, or affecting an Indigenous community, applicants needed to attach an acknowledgement from the Indigenous community that supports the project (e.g. Band council resolution, letter from Chief in Council, letter from the Chief, etc).
  • Other supporting documents.