Xplornet 2011

Xplornet is pledging all of rural and remote areas in Canada will have high-speed internet by 2017. (Canadian Press)

Xplornet Communications Inc. is promising internet download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second for rural and remote areas of Canada by 2017.

The Woodstock, N.B.-based company announced its plan Monday, saying it is rolling out a new wireless network and will have space on two next-generation satellites by 2016.

Xplornet has signed a deal to buy all the residential capacity on Boeing’s ViaSat-2 satellite and lease the Canadian satellite broadband capacity on Hughes Network Systems’ Hughes'  EchoStar XIX. Both are new satellites offering high-speed communications to be launched in 2016.

Xplornet is an internet service provider that provides wireless high-speed internet and high-speed satellite internet service across Canada. Satellite service gives access to remote areas including Canada’s far North.

"We have heard for years that getting fast, affordable high-speed internet to 100 per cent of the country isn't possible - that the technology and dollars just are not there," Allison Lenehan, president of Xplornet, said in a release today.

Lenehan said the company will make it possible to download video or stream HD content in rural and remote parts of Canada “for about the same price you would pay if you lived in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Fredericton.”

Industry Canada has made improving access to high-speed data networks one of its priorities as part of a plan to improve Canada’s telecommunications.

On July 22, it announced it would invest up to $305 million to extend access for 98 per cent rural households to broadband internet at speeds of five megabits per second. It said it would begin taking applications for community proposals this fall.

That’s much slower than Xplornet’s promised 25 mbps. And the company anticipates its fixed-wireless network and satellites will eventually be able to handle even faster speeds.

“As we roll out our new LTE fixed wireless and satellite networks, we believe the technology advances we are making will continue to push the boundaries forward and someday soon we will be announcing 100 Mbps download speeds,” Lenehan said.

While most urban internet services begin at about 10 mbps, rural and remote households typically miss out on high-speed service and have to do without video-streaming unless they pay a hefty premium.

Xplornet currently operates Canada’s largest rural network, serving 250,000 households.