Line locating and trenching continues across rural communities in the province as SaskTel continues to roll out its fibre optic high speed internet services.
The Government of Saskatchewan iannounced that SaskTel will invest an additional $100 million in its Rural Fibre Initiative to expand SaskTel infiNET service to over 80 more towns and villages throughout the province. This investment will help narrow the digital divide in Saskatchewan by connecting tens of thousands of rural households and businesses to SaskTel's fibre optic broadband network.
"Our government is committed to growing Saskatchewan's economy and improving the quality of life for all people of our province," Minister Responsible for SaskTel Don Morgan said. "The massive investments being made by SaskTel to expand their fibre optic broadband network across Saskatchewan will help create a more connected and prosperous future for our people, our communities and our province."
Powered by SaskTel's fibre optic broadband network, infiNET service delivers internet speeds reaching close to a gigabit per second (Gbps), allowing subscribers to surf, stream and share however much content they want at incredible speeds. Plus, the infiNET network has the capacity to grow to support the evolving needs of SaskTel's customers and increasing popularity of cloud services, video streaming and smart technologies.
"Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) has long advocated for improvement in broadband services, in particular for smaller communities where access has lagged behind that of larger centres in our province," SUMA President Randy Goulden said. "We are pleased to see SaskTel continue to address this gap with additional funding. Connectivity is a priority for all our communities, and key to the viability of our smaller members in the future."
"Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) fully supports investments into improved broadband services for communities in rural Saskatchewan," SARM President Ray Orb said. "It is essential that access to broadband services in rural Saskatchewan achieves parity to those services available in larger communities and we look forward to working with the provincial government on future projects to continue to expand broadband services for the benefit of all rural residents and businesses in the province."
Originally announced in 2020, the Rural Fibre Initiative is a multi-phase program that will see SaskTel invest $200 million to bring infiNET service to over 110,000 residents and businesses living and operating in more than 130 rural communities. SaskTel anticipates all communities included in the Rural Fibre Initiative will be fibre-ready by the end of March 2025.
"Once we've completed these phases of the Rural Fibre Initiative, our infiNET network, which is already the largest fibre optic broadband network in the province, will reach approximately 80 per cent of all Saskatchewan households," SaskTel President and CEO Doug Burnett said. "This, combined with the significant investments we are making to deploy our 5G wireless network will ensure we remain one of the most well-connected regions in the country while also helping to accelerate Saskatchewan's transition to becoming a smart province."
The towns and villages that will receive infiNET service as a result of the additional investments announced will be connected as part of Phases 5 and 6 of the Rural Fibre Initiative. While all communities included in Phase 5 have been established, SaskTel is still finalizing Phase 6 and will make a formal announcement once those details have been confirmed. See the attached appendix for a full listing of the communities included in Phases 1 through 5 of the Rural Fibre Initiative.