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Government of Canada Launches National Satellite Initiative to Provide Broadband Access to Northern and Remote Communities

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2003

RANKIN INLET (Nunavut), October 5, 2003 - Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Allan Rock, and Canadian Space Agency President, Marc Garneau, today announced the launch of the Government of Canada's $155 million National Satellite Initiative. This joint project between Infrastructure Canada, Industry Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will provide high-speed broadband Internet access services via satellite to communities located in the Far and Mid North, and in isolated or remote areas of Canada.

Minister Rock made the announcement during a visit to the Community Hall Singiituq Complex in Rankin Inlet. He was accompanied by Secretary of State (Rural Development) (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario), Andy Mitchell, as well as Steve Mahoney, Secretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations) and Nunavut Member of Parliament, Nancy Karetak-Lindell.

"Expanding broadband services will contribute to the sustainability of our northern and remote communities, and will help ensure that Canadian families and businesses can have a prosperous economic and social future, in particular through improved access to telehealth, e-business, and distance learning services," said Minister Rock. "It will also bring the Government of Canada one great step closer to ensuring broadband access is available to all Canadian communities."

The National Satellite Initiative will expand satellite capacity to Far North and Mid North communities, as well as remote communities, which cannot receive broadband services in any other feasible or economic form than satellite communication. Expanding broadband access will enable these communities to benefit from essential services, particularly in the areas of health, education and e-government. A majority of the approximately 400 communities currently targeted by this initiative are Aboriginal.

"By providing greater access to broadband technology, the Government of Canada is in turn ensuring that rural and remote Canadians have access to important services," said Secretary of State Mitchell. "We must continue to work together to ensure that all Canadians have access to innovative tools for social, cultural and economic development."

Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Robert Nault, offered comments on today's announcement. "This funding demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to economic development in the North," said Minister Nault. "Providing greater access to the Internet will not only open new lines of communication for northern and Aboriginal communities, it will enable other Canadians to communicate more easily with the North. Improved Internet access will also bring new technologies and business opportunities to northern Canada, which will enhance the quality of life for all."

The Government of Canada is contributing $155 million towards the costs of implementing this initiative. The funds will be used to purchase and access satellite capacity. Of the $155 million being announced today, $85 million will come from the "national priority project envelope" of the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The remaining funds will be provided in-kind through a $50 million service credit from the Canadian Space Agency for satellite capacity that will be made available to the Government of Canada, and through additional satellite capacity managed by Industry Canada for public benefit and valued at $20 million.

"Through this initiative, the Government of Canada is also leveraging public and private sector partnerships to launch and deliver space-enabled, state-of-the-art high-speed interactive multimedia services linking communities throughout Canada," said Mr. Garneau. "These space-enhanced services effectively connect the last kilometre, offering the promise of significantly improving the quality of life of all Canadians, especially our citizens living in remote communities and the Far North."

The National Satellite Initiative will ultimately provide northern and remote communities with equal opportunities to access high-speed broadband Internet connections by significantly reducing the costs of providing the service to these communities through the purchase of satellite capacity. The Government of Canada will work to partner with territories, provinces, communities and the private sector to implement this initiative.

Access to broadband service is a national priority that has a major impact on Canada's economy and quality of life. For this reason, the Government of Canada is funding this initiative in part through the $200-million "national priority project envelope" of the $2-billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, announced by Minister Rock on July 22, 2003.

The provinces and territories therefore remain eligible for other strategic infrastructure projects under the overall Fund. This initiative will work in concert with Industry Canada's Broadband for Rural and Northern Development Pilot Program launched by Minister Rock in September 2002.

In the Speech from the Throne of September 30, 2002, the Government of Canada committed to an additional 10-year involvement in public infrastructure. Its Budget 2003 re-affirmed this long-term commitment, and provided an additional $3 billion for strategic and municipal-rural infrastructure investments. This brings the Government of Canada's contribution to infrastructure since 1993 to $12 billion, which in turn will generate over $30 billion in infrastructure improvements by all partners.

For more information on Infrastructure Canada and its programs, please visit: www.infrastructurecanada.gc.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Mylène Dupéré
Office of Allan Rock
Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for Infrastructure
Telephone: (613) 995-9001

Infrastructure Canada
Communications and Promotion
Telephone: (613) 948-1148

Christine Aquino
Press Secretary
Office of Secretary of State Mitchell
Telephone: (613) 759-1085

Monique Billette
Senior Media Relations Spokesperson
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4370

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