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Rogers and Telus want $1.1B of pre-budget UBF funds

Photo from ISED

Last updated on May 14, 2021

Before the federal budget proposed one billion additional dollars to the fund, the two telecom giants requested nearly $1.15 billion, or 65 per cent of the original $1.75-billion broadband fund.

This story has been updated on April 21 to reflect new disclosure by Telus Tuesday showing the Vancouver-based company filed for $646.3 million from the fund, pushing Rogers and Telus over the billion-dollar mark.

What’s the deal? By program deadline on March 15, Rogers and Telus have requested $1.15 billion from the $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund, public records show.

The breakdown: Rogers is asking for $500 million and Telus is requesting $646.3 million.

So what? That’s about 65 per cent of the fund, and it comes before the federal budget on Monday proposed adding an additional $1 billion to the fund. The $1.75-billion was already hacked down thanks to an agreement to disburse $413 million, or 24 per cent of the fund, to Quebec’s Operation High Speed last month. That’s not to mention the additional $150-million rapid response stream of the program, which received 576 applications and is gunning for projects to be completed by November 2021.

In other words, the fund has attracted lots of interest.

Key insight: The UBF’s main $1.75-billion portion has attracted 1,900 applications worth a historic $10.5 billion, an Innovation Canada spokesperson told the downUP.

More context: The downUP reported in February that Rogers, Telus, and Shaw had together requested about $100 million from various federal and provincial funds.

Telus was selected last month to hook-up some 5,000 homes in rural Alberta using UBF money last month. That deal was worth $5.4 million in federal cash.

According to lobby records, Telus has between March 15, 2021 and March 31 received $22.8 million from Innovation Canada, the federal department handling the UBF and broadband.

The telecoms pony up their own amounts into broadband projects as part of the agreement.

What they said: Rogers and Telus did not respond to questions about where in the country they hope to put the money and for what exactly.

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