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Universal Broadband Fund – Federal government announces funding for phase one of the Pictou County high-speed internet project – Canada NewsWire

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Rural Nova Scotians to benefit from increased connectivity

OTTAWA, ON, April 6, 2021 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities lack access to high-speed Internet. Through the Universal Broadband Fund‘s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed Internet they need.

Today, Sean Fraser, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, and Member of Parliament for Central Nova, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced $4.46 million in funding for the Municipality of Pictou County to bring high-speed Internet to rural residents of the community. With a contribution from the municipality of Pictou County of $3.32 million, this project will connect many underserved households to high-speed Internet in Pictou County and may create the opportunity for improved cellular coverage in the area.

The $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund was launched on November 9, 2020. The projects being announced today were approved within 5 months of the formal launch of the program. Projects funded under the UBF, as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.

Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve broadband access in Nova Scotia. Since 2015, the federal government has approved over 568 infrastructure projects totaling over $678 million in federal investments in Nova Scotia communities. These investments mean 37km of new or upgraded roads are now making our communities safer; more than 56 projects are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 125 additional housing units have been built in rural communities, helping ensure all Nova Scotians have a safe place to call home.

Quotes 

“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural Nova Scotia. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to many households in Pictou County, and may also improve the quality of cell coverage throughout rural communities in our region. This investment will help create the spine for future phases of the project, which will create jobs in the short term and create the conditions for long term economic growth. Our government has now committed over $17.268 million to 29 connectivity projects in Nova Scotia, which will connect 17,328 more households to better, faster Internet. We will continue to make investments like these to help connect every Canadian to the high-speed Internet they need to succeed in today’s economy.”
Sean Fraser, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, and Member of Parliament for Central Nova

“This fund is significant in many ways, and I thank Minister Monsef for making it available. Not only is it very helpful in serving our rural residents but it also marks a high level of confidence by the federal government in the broadband plans our Council has approved for the County. It is also important as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Municipality is focused on keeping everyone safe during this difficult time, and a broadband network is a vital tool for residents and businesses. We depend on the network for health, education and sustainability. Being able to accelerate the implementation of a significant portion of the network will serve us well.”
­– Robert Parker, Warden for the Municipality of Pictou County

Quick facts

  • Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.
  • The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) is a $1.75-billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed Internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021 and are now being evaluated.
  • The UBF is part of a suite of federal investments to improve high-speed Internet. The suite includes the Connect to Innovate program, which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023, and the recently announced $2-billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

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SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

For further information: Marie-Pier Baril, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, [email protected], 613-295-8123; Media Relations, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 343-291-1777, [email protected]

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Atos reports drop in revenue, to conduct U.S. accounting review

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By Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala

(Reuters) -French IT consulting group Atos reported a drop in first-quarter revenue on Tuesday, putting further pressure on its share price which has been hit by an accounting issue in the United States.

The company, which develops solutions in hybrid cloud, big data, business applications and digital workplace, disclosed earlier this month that auditors had found accounting errors at two U.S. units, sending its shares diving 18% at the time.

On Tuesday the company said it had decided to conduct a full accounting review of the two U.S. units and would give a status update when it releases first-half results on July 28.

Atos also has a big contract to provide solutions for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and said that it was prepared for all scenarios, including a further postponement or complete cancellation of the event.

“For us, there will be no cancellation of the contract even if the Olympics were to be postponed,” head of investor relations Gilles Arditti said in a conference call.

Atos shares were down by more than 5% after the company said its revenue for January-March dropped 3.9% organically from a year earlier to 2.69 billion euros ($3.24 billion).

The company, however, maintained its full-year guidance.

“The results today are a meaningful miss (on market expectations) and likely to weigh further on sentiment,” Barclays said in a note, adding that the U.S. accounting situation was a bigger concern.

Year to date, Atos’ shares have now declined by nearly a quarter.

The company also said on Tuesday that it had acquired Canada-based Processia, UK-based Ipsotek and German firm cryptovision, as it continues with bolt-on acquisitions in a bid to boost revenue from digital, cloud, security and decarbonisation business over the medium term. It gave no financial details of the transactions.

($1 = 0.8292 euros)

(Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala in Gdansk ; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Susan Fenton)

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Rogers wireless service back for majority of users following outage

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(Reuters) –Rogers Communications Inc said late on Monday its services had been restored for most of its users, following intermittent interruptions to wireless voice and data services for several hours.

“Wireless calls, SMS and data services are now restored for the vast majority of our customers”, the company said on Twitter. (https://bit.ly/32rx8HL)

The company said earlier on Monday that its residential and business wireline internet services were not impacted. (https://bit.ly/3sAqs4B)

About 11,000 users in Canada reported issues with the wireless service provider, as of 1900 GMT on Monday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.ca.

Downdetector tracks outages by collating status reports from a series of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform. The outage could have affected a larger number of users.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu, Rithika Krishna and Nandakumar D in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shounak Dasgupta)

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Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.

Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”

Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.

Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.

Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.

Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.

Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.

“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.

Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.

Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.

They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.

Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.

‘SWEET SPOT’

The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.

“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”

Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.

“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”

Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.

“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.

Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.

Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.

France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.

Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.

“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”

($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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