The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it will spend $4 million to improve broadband access on the island.

"As a government, we made a commitment to improving broadband access in underserviced rural communities," Innovation Minister Keith Hutchings said.

"Broadband is a bridge that connects rural communities to the same opportunities available in larger, more urban centres."

The contribution is in addition to $11.3 million in provincial funding announced Wednesday to improve service in Labrador. The majority of that cash came from Crown-owned Nalcor Energy.

The broadband announcements come nearly two years after the government cancelled a request for proposals to build and manage an advanced communications network across the province, citing cost concerns.

That cancelled RFP would have consolidated the communications requirements of the government's 1,000-plus facilities —including health-care institutions, libraries, schools, and other offices — into one provincially-owned communications network.

In February 2010, the government blamed estimated project costs that had escalated to more than half a billion dollars.

Of the provincial funding announced Thursday, Bell Aliant will use $2.1 million to provide broadband access to parts of the Northern Peninsula, as well as the central and eastern regions of Newfoundland.

Burgeo Broadcasting Systems and Ramea Communications, through a combined $230,000 investment, will upgrade services to Ramea, Grey River, and Francois.

And XploreNet Communications will use a $1.67 million investment to look at implementing a fixed wireless solution in the central region.

The province says the percentage of residents with broadband access has increased to approximately 85 per cent, up from 60 per cent when the Progressive Conservatives took power in 2003.