Nova Scotia High-Speed Internet Initiative

Access to quality internet service is essential for living, working and competing in a digital world. It's an important part of delivering many of the services that matter most to Nova Scotians – health care, education and services for our most vulnerable citizens. It's also a key driver of  inclusive economic growth because it gives Nova Scotia businesses the opportunity to compete and succeed anywhere in the world.

Government recognizes that improving high-speed internet service in rural areas will take time and ongoing investments.

Stakeholder Engagement

Many players need to work together to coordinate and align efforts to improve high-speed internet service. Nova Scotia's initiative began with discussions with a variety of stakeholders who continue to be engaged throughout the process, including:

  • Municipalities and community groups
  • Provincial government partners
  • Federal government partners
  • Internet service providers (ISPs)
  • Interested citizens and community groups (via meetings, correspondence etc.)

High-Speed Internet Review

In spring 2015, Ernst & Young (EY) was contracted to review the state of rural internet service in Nova Scotia. The Review of Alternatives for Rural High Speed Internet report (PDF 1.10MB) was delivered in June 2016.

The report examined Nova Scotia's internet service landscape, the current technologies available, internet services around the world, and possible roles for government in improving service. It highlighted that this is an issue affecting many regions throughout Canada and globally. The report concluded that Nova Scotia's success will require a mix of technologies and key partners. Wired technologies (e.g., fibre, cable) offer better reliability while fixed wireless and satellite are also very viable options. Based on the experience of other jurisdictions that successfully improved internet service, EY recommended that Nova Scotia build a long-term plan to enhance their “middle-mile” or “backbone” infrastructure, as well as to strengthen “last-mile” infrastructure.

Government then began a process to develop a long-term strategy for the middle mile, while also launching a number of programs that could improve more last-mile connections to homes and businesses in the shorter term.

Long-Term Strategy Development

Brightstar Canada was hired to develop the long-term strategy for the middle mile and the last mile. The Brightstar project team includes the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), which completed a similar project in Eastern Ontario, and Nova Scotia-based Musial's Computer Consulting (MCCI). The team has expertise in project management, network engineering, stakeholder engagement, and finance/business modelling.

The Brightstar team mapped existing infrastructure, identified internet bandwidth demand and gaps, and developed costing models for improving internet service in Nova Scotia.

Download the Middle-Mile Strategy Report (1 MB PDF)

Download the Last Mile Strategy Report (3.4 MB PDF)

While the long-term strategy was in development, projects were initiated to improve last-mile connections in the shorter term such as the Municipal and Community Group Rural High-Speed Internet Funding Program.

Municipal and Community Program

The Municipal and Community Group Rural High-Speed Internet Funding Program launched in November 2016. This program helped groups partner with ISPs to make immediate improvements to last-mile service in communities across Nova Scotia. It provided up to $75,000 per project.

There was a strong response to the program and government was able to support 22 projects, with a total investment of approximately $1.4 Million.

A summary of the 22 municipal and community high-speed internet projects can be downloaded here.

Internet Service Provider Program

In July 2016, a Request for Information (RFI) was issued to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) seeking solutions to improve last-mile connections in the short term. There were 11 responses to this RFI. This information helped government better understand the range and scope of solutions that could be implemented in the shorter term and what those solutions might cost.

The next step in this process was planned to be an application-based funding program for ISPs. However, government is working to align support with our Federal and Municipal partners.

Federal Initiatives

Connect to Innovate Program

The Federal government’s Connect to Innovate Program is enhancing backbone internet infrastructure and supporting last-mile projects in rural and remote communities across Canada.

It was recently announced that the Federal government will spend $17.7 million on Connect to Innovate projects here in Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust will contribute $1.2 million towards those projects, with some additional funding coming from municipalities and internet service providers.

For more information on the Connect to Innovate Program, please contact Akim Thibouthot at Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada by calling: 1-343-291-3865.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – Targets and Fund

In December 2016, the CRTC announced minimum targets for basic internet service and announced a new five-year, $750 million fund. Government will continue to work with federal partners to align with federal programs and incorporate new information into Nova Scotia's long-term strategy, as appropriate.

Read more information on CRTC website.

Key Terms

Middle Mile (sometimes called “backbone”):
Technologies that bring the Internet to a point in a community. Middle-mile technology is often fibre optic-based, but can include a range of technologies including microwave, wireless and satellite.

Last Mile:
Technologies that distribute Internet from the Point of Presence to individual homes and businesses in the community. Last-mile technology is either wired (cable, fibre, or copper pair), fixed wireless, or satellite.

Point of Presence:
Point in a community from which Internet can be distributed to individual homes and businesses in the community

ISPs/Internet Service Providers:
Companies that provide individual homes and businesses with access to internet service