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Connect to Innovate: Update for Service Providers

As we work toward releasing the RFPQ to service providers in mid-2017, we know that there are multiple opportunities before service providers in our region this year. One of those opportunities is the new Connect to Innovate (CTI) program announced in late 2016 by the federal government. We are hard at work building an RFPQ and RFP process that we believe will be an attractive opportunity for service providers and our goal is to ensure that as many providers as possible participate in the RFPQ process and bid on the RFP when it is released later in 2017. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about CTI, how it connects to SWIFT, and how it may benefit you as a service provider:

What is Connect to Innovate (CTI)?

On December 15, the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the Connect to Innovate program (CTI). CTI is a $500 million fund designed to support new backbone infrastructure and some last-mile connectivity. The funding program was announced just before the December 2016 CRTC ruling on broadband as a basic telecommunications service, which set new targets for broadband speeds in Canada at 50 Mpbs down/10 up. This means that any last-mile funding in the first phase of this program is meant to bring communities up to the previous Government of Canada target which is much lower: 5Mpbs down/1 up.

The current round of funding focuses on new backbone infrastructure and only partially on last-mile service where it doesn’t currently exist. Areas eligible for new backbone infrastructure are identified as blue circles this map. Most communities eligible for last-mile funding (regions coded as orange hexes on the map) are communities where the federal government has identified significant barriers for consumers to get service that meets the Government of Canada’s pre-CRTC ruling speed target of 5 Mbps down/1 up.

Read more about the criteria for these distinctions and eligibility for funding by clicking here.

The deadline to apply for CTI funding is April 20th, 2017 at 12:00pm *** Please note this deadline has been extended from the earlier deadline date.

What does CTI mean for SWIFT?

CTI is complementary to SWIFT – not competitive.

The Connect to Innovate program is a strong complement to the $180 million already committed to SWIFT by the federal and provincial governments through the Building Canada – Small Communities Fund (SCF). As an organization, SWIFT can only apply for CTI funding to cover areas within the region that are not already covered by SCF funding – such communities with populations over 100,000 or communities not within the original SCF funding application.

Member communities and service providers within the SWIFT region can apply to this program to accelerate local programs that complement SWIFT.

Communities covered by SWIFT are eligible to apply for CTI funding.

Communities covered by SWIFT are eligible to apply for funding under the Connect to Innovate program as individual applicants (apart from SWIFT) and may find that applying for this funding stream helps accelerate the work undertaken by SWIFT in their community.

The SWIFT team is currently working with member communities to determine opportunities for leveraging the Connect to Innovate program and to ensure that infrastructure projects within our region are fully integrated and complementary to the work already underway by SWIFT.

Service Providers: Apply! Build! Grow!

Applying for and receiving CTI funding or other funding supports will not jeopardize your ability to bid on SWIFT.

CTI funding allows “stacking” – or combining multiple streams of funding toward the same initiative – but SWIFT’s SCF funding does not allow stacking. Because SWIFT is funded based on a public-private partnership structure, with one third funding coming from each the federal government, provincial government, and the private sector, SWIFT as an organization cannot use any other federal programs to stack dollars on infrastructure investments in communities already covered through the SCF funding we have already received for project, and cannot ‘top-up’ projects that have been partially funded by CTI.

However, it is important that service providers continue with their planned investments in infrastructure and leverage every existing avenue of funding to connect our communities – and SWIFT can leverage CTI funding and other funding programs to support infrastructure investments in communities not covered by SCF funding.

Through Phase I of the project, SWIFT will leverage SCF funding, municipal contributions, and private sector investments to build approximately $300 million in fibre-optic infrastructure. We estimate that the total, long-term cost of connecting everyone in the region will cost approximately $4 billion. To accelerate the process of building #broadbandforeveryone, we are strongly encouraging our member communities and service providers within our region to apply for CTI funding and to align any planned investments with SWIFT’s long-term plan.

NOTE: Any fibre-optic asset built after July 11, 2016 that is not covered by CTI funding or any other federal funding program may considered an eligible cost toward SWIFT if you include it in your submission to the RFPQ/RFP.


Keep in touch and stay informed:

We encourage our member municipalities and organizations and local service providers to reach out to SWIFT staff to keep us informed and help us support local initiatives where possible.

To stay up to date with news, updates on the RFPQ/RFP process, bidding opportunities, and more, please subscribe to our mailing list by visiting

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