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CIB partnership to expand broadband in rural Manitoba

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CIB partnership to expand broadband in rural Manitoba

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and private sector partners are investing in a first of its kind project to significantly expand broadband and connect Manitobans in underserved rural communities.

The CIB, along with Valley Fiber Limited (Valley Fiber) and DIF Capital Partners (DIF) have signed an agreement in principle to invest a combined $260 million to increase broadband through the Southern Manitoba Fibre project.

With the onset of the pandemic, broadband service has become even more critical to Canadians’ daily lives. The Southern Manitoba Fibre project involves 2,550 kilometres of fibre-optic cabling, connecting up to 49,000 underserved households with dedicated fibre-to-the-home in rural municipalities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important reliable, affordable high-speed internet is for Canadians,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s partnership with Valley Fiber and DIF Capital Partners will bring high-speed broadband to up to 49,000 homes in Southern Manitoba by 2024 and create up to 450 jobs, benefitting the local economy and building more inclusive communities. This is part of our government’s plan to ensure all Canadians have access to quality, high-speed internet services.”

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Under the terms of the agreement, the CIB will invest $130 million and DIF will contribute $130 million. Valley Fiber will be responsible for all aspects of construction, installation, operations and maintenance of the new broadband service. The project will also include last-mile infrastructure with underground fibre cables and networking equipment. The service will offer broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, enhancing telecommunications services for residents, businesses and public service delivery.

“I am excited the CIB is making its first investment in broadband and first investment in Manitoba. Our $130 million investment will help Manitobans receive broadband service and create new economic opportunities, support public services like health and education and strengthen rural communities,” said Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. “There is a tremendous opportunity to expand broadband networks and the CIB looks forward to making many more investments which benefit Canadians.”

Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank

This is the CIB’s first investment in broadband, first project in Manitoba and another example of the CIB quickly implementing its Growth Plan by investing in new infrastructure. The CIB, Valley Fiber, and DIF expect to reach financial close this spring with construction commencing immediately thereafter. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Martin Harder, Mayor of Winkler, Manitoba:
“[This project] is taking us out of the dark ages
and giving us a boost when we need it most.”

During the construction phase, up to 400 jobs will be created. DIF completed a majority investment in Valley Fiber in April 2020 and actively works together with the company to further build out its fibre network.

“I am honored to be working with such with an amazing team who shares our passion on bringing broadband to rural communities through dedicated active ethernet,” said Hank Wall, CEO of Valley Fiber Limited. “Together, we are not only leveling the economic playing field but also bringing essential services to underserviced Canadians in Manitoba.”

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