Bell expanding rural broadband to more locations with faster speeds

MONTRÉAL - Bell today announced a further acceleration of its Wireless Home Internet rollout in rural Canada, including an expansion of enhanced 50/10 speeds to even more locations.

"Bell's Wireless Home Internet has been a game changer for Canadians in rural communities, bringing full broadband Internet access to traditionally underserved areas and regions previously unserved by any carrier," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "The Wireless Home Internet program is fully funded by Bell but also enabled by a federal government policy environment that fosters investment in critical network infrastructure. With COVID-19 underscoring the critical importance of high-speed Internet access for Canadians everywhere, and government support for enhanced investment, Bell is dedicating even more resources into expanding and enhancing our WHI network rollout to rural Canada."

On August 15, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains issued a statement regarding wholesale Internet rates set by the CRTC last year that are currently under review. Minister Bains made it clear the CRTC's rates could "undermine investment in high-quality networks, particularly in rural and remote areas." He added that "incentives for ongoing investment, particularly to foster enhanced connectivity for those who are unserved or underserved, are a critical objective of the overall policies governing telecommunications, including these wholesale rates."

Bell's Wireless Home Internet program Bell is on track to deliver WHI coverage to almost 50% of our target footprint by the end of 2020 with service for an additional 80,000 rural homes. More than 350,000 homes will have immediate access to enhanced 50/10 Internet access speeds (50 Megabits per second download/10 Mbps upload).

Exclusive to Bell, the innovative WHI service leverages Bell's fibre and wireless networks to efficiently deliver broadband Internet access to smaller towns, rural communities and other hard-to-reach locations. WHI is already available to approximately 400,000 households in Ontario and Québec and is expected to ultimately reach a million homes in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario and Manitoba.

In response to COVID-19, Bell accelerated its WHI rollout plan to 137,000 more locations than originally planned. In July, Bell also announced it was doubling WHI download speeds to 50/10 this fall for approximately 300,000 homes and beginning our rollout in Atlantic Canada. "We built WHI specifically to meet the needs of communities that have been tough to serve with traditional wireline and wireless connections, including the capacity for future upgrades that capitalize on innovations in 5G wireless as necessary spectrum becomes available," said Stephen Howe, Bell's Chief Technology Officer. "At the same time, we're also continuing to roll our all-fibre network – the world's fastest Internet technology – into more suburban and rural regions across Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and the Atlantic provinces. Together, Bell's fibre and WHI networks are advancing how Canadians connect with each other and the world, no matter where they may live."

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