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Fiber-optic infrastructure deal expected to give 49,000 rural Manitobans faster internet

A person works on a laptop.
A person works on a laptop. The Canadian Press file

An agreement between three organizations announced Friday means $260 million is going toward increasing broadband internet service in underserved rural Manitoba communities.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Valley Fiber Ltd., and DIF Capital Partners announced the signing of an agreement in principle to contribute the funding to increase broadband through the Southern Manitoba Fibre project.

The project is expected to benefit up to more than 49,000 Manitoba households via 2,550 km of fibre-optic cabling, and according to a release from CIB, will create up to 400 jobs during its construction, including 50 permanent jobs with Valley Fiber.

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“I’m excited the CIB is making its first investment in broadband and first investment in Manitoba,” said Ehren Cory, CEO of the CIB, a Crown corporation with the goal of supporting public/private infrastructure projects.

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“(The investment) will help Manitobans receive broadband service and create new economic opportunities, support public services like health and education and strengthen rural communities.”

Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said the move is part of the government’s plan to ensure Canadians from coast-to-coast have access to high-speed, quality internet.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important reliable, affordable high-speed internet is for Canadians,” she said.

The deal is expected to close financially later this spring, and construction — planned for completion in 2024 — will begin immediately afterwards.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba announces rural and northern broadband internet service to help business, make life safer' Manitoba announces rural and northern broadband internet service to help business, make life safer
Manitoba announces rural and northern broadband internet service to help business, make life safer – May 15, 2020

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