Speedy internet coming to 10 Manitoba First Nations for the 1st time

Ten Manitoba First Nations will get high-speed internet connections for the first time by 2019.

Connecting Canadians 150 announcement will provide $5M to Manitoba service provider CommStream

The federal government is giving $5 million to northern Manitoba internet provider CommStream to boost internet speeds in 10 remote communities. (Denis Rozhnovsky/Shutterstock)

Ten Manitoba First Nations will get high-speed internet connections for the first time by 2019.

The $305-million Connecting Canadians program was first announced by Stephen Harper's federal government in July 2014, committing to boosting internet speeds in communities across the country by 2019.

On Tuesday, the federal government announced that $5 million of that money will go to northern Manitoba internet provider CommStream to bring better service to 10 communities in the province over the next 2½ years.

The company will build microwave towers and equipment shelters to serve roughly 17,000 people in 1,900 homes, using the federal investment plus $2 million from its own coffers.

It's also planning to train each First Nation to run its own internet service-provider business to create jobs in the community.

"Can you imagine your life without access to high-speed internet?" said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr on Tuesday.

"We think it's a very significant announcement and terrific program and we're very happy to do this in partnership with the private sector.

Construction to start this year

Construction will begin later this year in Mosakahiken Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation and York Factory First Nation.

Bunibonbee, Manito Sipi and God's Lake First Nations will follow in winter 2018 and construction will conclude with Garden Hill, Wasagamack, Red Sucker and St. Theresa Point First Nations in winter 2019.

The government has already invested roughly $13 million in Manitoba through the Connecting Canadians program.

The $5 million announced this year is part of a larger "Connecting Canadians 150" announcement which will benefit internet providers in B.C. and Alberta as well.