More Canadian families and businesses will have access to high-speed internet services thanks to a major new investment to extend and improve broadband coverage, part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the next steps in the Government’s strategy to expand broadband internet access to unserved and underserved communities throughout Canada.

“The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous, particularly for the thousands of Canadians who live in rural and remote communities,” said the Prime Minister. “The jobs of the future will increasingly depend on people in communities like Thetford Mines having consistent and reliable access to broadband services such as distance education, telehealth coverage and new online business opportunities. These are services that more and more Canadians rely on; they should also be services that all Canadians can count on.”

The Prime Minister announced that the Federal Government has completed a comprehensive nationwide survey of broadband access to determine what regions have the highest need. The Harper Government will fund up to 50 percent of the costs for organizations selected to deploy broadband infrastructure and services to these areas.

The Government will begin accepting applications from potential private sector partners this summer, and will select recipients by December 2009. The key criteria for successful applicants include who can provide the best coverage at the lowest cost, create jobs, deliver within a set timeframe, and ensure a viable and sustainable business model for the future.