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What is the current update including timelines?

Excellent progress has been made as the original goal of 95% coverage has been surpassed. To date, we currently have approximately 99% coverage with access to connections continuing to happen regularly. With the Satellite Internet Service Rebate, access is available to close to 100% of Nova Scotians.

While most projects are complete or substantially complete, remaining project areas shifted into 2024 as result of added challenges including Post-Fiona restoration efforts, resulting in temporary shifts of resources by providers and partners from the overall project. This event, and more recent damage related to floods, hurricanes and wildfires, required resources to be redirected, and further impacted required make ready work. Winter and wind storms for example can also require crews to be relocated for repairs/bring essential services back online.

The types and volume of make ready work – which can include such items as pole inspection/replacements, additional tree trimming and permits to access areas - can vary and take additional time for all of the pieces to come together. There are also seasonal impacts such as weight restrictions on some roads and woodpeckers that damage poles.

Build Nova Scotia continues to work closely with all partners to mitigate challenges in the project delivery wherever possible.

Project pages will be updated to reflect project changes, main reasons for any shifts, and periodic information as the remaining projects progress.

What is the coverage to date?

When the project started, there were approximately 103,000 underserved locations across the province. As of early July 2024, approximately 98,100 have access either through traditional Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative projects or the Satellite Internet Service Rebate Program. To date, we have approximately 99% coverage and close to 99.9% with the satellite option.

The Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative has met, and exceeded, the original goal to bring high-speed internet to 95% of underserved homes and businesses.

What do these shifts look like?

Here is a snapshot look at where we were as of early June 2024.

  • Approximately 103,000 underserved locations were identified at the project start.
  • Approximately 98,100 homes and businesses have access to date.
  • There were approximately 10,500 remaining underserved locations at the end of 2023.
  • Locations that can't be reached via a feasible land-based technology would have StarLink (high-speed satellite) as their option. The Satellite Rebate Program continues into 2024 and also provides an interim option for those in a current project area.

Addresses in some of these project areas already have access and the 2-3 month windows on some project pages are anticipated for the overall project area. Individual addresses often have access before the full project area is complete.

What are the steps to complete a fibre/wired project?

The steps to complete a fibre/wired project include-

  • Milestone 1 – Network transport, edge and power planning, field scoping, detailed designs, work order issuance, equipment procurement.

  • Milestone 2 – Hydro Make Ready activities (tree trimming, pole replacement, etc.) and any permits that need to be secured to construct the fibre.

  • Milestone 3 – Fibre installation, equipment placement, fibre splicing, testing, core network installation and commissioning.

  • Milestone 4 (Service Ready for Nova Scotians) – Uploading customer records into service qualification database, all final work, service launch.

I'm in a project area. What happens when the project is complete?

Bell:
As projects are complete or nearing completion, Bell has indicated they plan to reach out to customers by phone, door knockers and door-to-door (COVID permitting) as that is available. Local retailers will also share information once they know locations covered. Residents can check availability here. This is updated as Bell enters information and addresses into their system once work is complete and access to connections available. Our project pages will also be updated with address lists to date, as provided by Bell.

Branches/call centres may not have this information until a location is complete or nearing completion. They can then provide more information on pricing, options etc. at that time.

Eastlink:
Visit the Eastlink contact site here.

Cross Country:
Visit the Cross Country site to check on their service area section here. You can also contact them through the site with specific questions and ask to sign up for notifications.

Mainland Telecommunications:
Visit their Support section here.

Seaside Communications:
Visit theSeaside Communications Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative page here. This page outlines the various project areas, and anticipated timelines. A Contact section is also available.

Xplore (previously Xplornet):
Xplore updates overall plan availability options on their website to include coverage for all towers as available and fibre options. You can visit contact them here or you can call 1-877-959-5717 to learn more about availability etc. They can also add you to an update list if service isn’t currently available at this time.

Will the updated anticipated completion dates mean we won’t see any work until closer to then?

Crews move around project areas to keep things progressing so you may see different types of work underway depending on the requirements in your area.

It’s also important to note that in some of the project areas, these are partial shifts meaning some addresses already have access. The estimated completion date is for the overall project and the final location(s) to receive access. Information will be regularly updated on the project pages.

What are my options as I wait for fibre/wired access at my location?

The Satellite Internet Service Rebate Program continues to provide an important interim solution for those in a current project area not yet complete. Residents can switch from satellite to fibre/wired service once available. Satellite Internet Service Rebate | Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative | Build Nova Scotia (buildns.ca)

It’s also important to note that as access becomes available, residents can get connected. The providers don’t wait until the full project area is complete.

Why do some areas like Cape Breton or outside of Antigonish seem to have more projects shift?

These areas can have a larger amount of make ready work required given the type of geography/topography, and impacts from storm damage for example.

What is make-ready work and why does that impact some estimated completion dates?

When a project area is announced, the provider still needs to do some detailed site and engineering work. This helps refine the footprint so more detail around street and address level detail can be provided.

Part of the project work is make-ready work. This can include tree trimming, pole inspections, pole replacements with new poles, and water and road/railway crossing permits for example. The level of work can vary and providers also work with other levels of government and private sector on these items. We continue to work with partners to speed up regulatory approvals and optimize coordination among all of the partners.

Am I getting fibre?

All solutions delivered through this initiative must meet or exceed minimum speed targets. The majority of projects are fibre or coax directly to the home, but not all. Speeds can be delivered through a variety of technologies, including fibre/coaxial, signal off a tower, or satellite -- and all are considered in terms of solutions for those remaining.

It looks like fibre is now outside of my house. How do I know?

Access to connections is the final step in the process. Items including networks that are downstream, termination equipment, and back-office support must be in place prior to making service available to customers. Please refer to our list of complete addresses on project pages as available or Internet Service Provider websites to know when service is available to order.

What speeds should I expect with approved projects?

All projects approved for funding by the arms-length Trust in Round 2 are fibre to the home/business, which provides much higher speed service than the minimum speeds required by the CRTC.

All projects will meet or exceed minimum required speeds of 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload for wired connections, and 25 Mbps download/5Mbps upload for wireless connections, with a plan to reach 50 Mbps across the board. Projects that aren't able to meet these standards are not recommended for funding.

Speeds are delivered through a variety of technologies, including fibre/coaxial, signal off a tower, or satellite.

How do I know when I can get service in my project area?

When access to connections are available to an address, that information is fed by the provider into their customer service centre. They may also reach out to potential customers in advance and can also provide more information on options, pricing etc.

How does this project help ensure I will get high-speed access? We talked to a provider in our area and they indicated costs to us would be substantial?

These barriers to extending access are exactly what this initiative is designed to overcome. The reason that service has not been extended in many areas has to do with the business case for Internet providers—it just isn’t strong enough to make extending the service a worthwhile business investment.

This initiative helps bridge the gaps with respect to pre-qualified Internet Service Providers' business cases. The funding from the Trust, when combined with funding from the private sector as well as, in some cases, municipalities, helps to defray the costs of the significant infrastructure build-out required to reach homes and businesses in less densely populated areas of the province.

Why are some areas complete and others not until 2023 or later?

Projects announced in Round 1 were projects that could be substantially complete in 6-12 months. These areas often had some or all of the required backbone, or key infrastructure in place. Round 2 and expansion projects are generally much larger in scope than round 1 projects, requiring greater amounts of planning, make-ready, materials and labour to complete.

Internet Service Provider’s outline what they expect to over within an estimated timeframe and in different project areas. Projects are completed in stages, so access to connections can happen and not all necessarily at the end of the estimated timeline.

It seems like it takes a long time for some of these projects to be completed?

It is a complex infrastructure project that relies on the installation of thousands of kilometres of fibre and significant engineering and preparation to enable the delivery. You may not see work in the area but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

It’s like building a house. You start with designing the home, followed by clearing the building lot, next secure the materials and then construction begins. There is a lot of the work behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see. Plumbing, wiring – work that needs to happen to have lights and water.

Having access to the high-speed Internet connection is the end result with the required work happening along the way.

I understand I’m in an unserved/underserved area. What does that mean for me?

The goal remains to bring high-speed internet access for as close to 100 per cent of the remaining homes and businesses as possible.

The Satellite Internet Service Rebate program announced in July, 2022 will cover the one-time costs for eligible homes and businesses to set-up satellite internet, including hardware, taxes, shipping and installation, up to a maximum of $1,000. The rebate will be available to about 3,700 homes and businesses for which no other internet service solution has been found.

The program, led by Build Nova Scotia, opened on August 2, 2022. Nova Scotians should confirm they are eligible for the rebate before purchasing satellite equipment. They can confirm their eligibility by visiting https://internet.buildns.ca/satellite and entering their home or business address.

It expanded to residents and business owners who are not expected to gain access to wired or wireless internet until after December 31, 2023. The expansion is expected to help an additional estimated 2,200 homes and businesses.

In late 2022, it further expanded to include addresses that do not currently have access to high-speed internet, even if they are currently in a project area. This will provide an interim solution for many and they can switch to the high-speed option once access is available, if they choose.

Click here to learn more about how the program works.

What is the Satellite Internet Rebate Program?

The Satellite Internet Service Rebate Program expanded as of Nov. 30/22 to accept applications from residents and business owners across the province who are currently unserved by high-speed wired or wireless internet. Projects previously announced through the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative continue to advance. This will provide an interim solution for many Nova Scotians.

The rebate, which continues into 2024, will cover the one-time costs for eligible homes and businesses to set-up satellite internet, including hardware, taxes, shipping and installation, up to a maximum of $1,000. You can check if your address is eligible here.

The rebate also remains available to the approximate 3,700 homes and businesses for which no feasible wired or wireless internet solution has been found as well as addresses previously identified as not receiving high-speed access until after the end of 2023.

Why is satellite the only option at my location?

Build Nova Scotia’s work to provide high-speed internet service throughout Nova Scotia is grounded in the use of a variety of technologies, including satellite, wireless and wired internet services. For some locations that can’t be reached through land-based methods, high-speed satellite is the available option.

Why has only Bell Canada been awarded in Round 2?

The Round 2 RFP was open to all 15 pre-qualified proponents and we received proposals from a number of them. In this case, when the proposals were evaluated and scored, the highest ranked projects all happened to be Bell projects. You will recall that five separate ISPs, both big and small, were awarded projects through Round 1.

We should also recognize CRTC regulations around open access mean that portions of backbone networks installed are open to other providers to access, so more robust Internet networks could encourage further competition at the customer level over time.

Why do projects take so long to complete?

Having access to a connection is really the final step in the process. So even if you don’t see work going on in your community, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t started.

These projects are large and complex with significant engineering challenges and the requirement to install thousands of kilometres of fibre. Completion takes place in stages depending on when the project begins and the amount of preparation and engineering required. We recognize the urgency.

We are making good progress and we will continue to work with our providers to accelerate the final projects wherever possible. We know how important reliable high-speed Internet is for Nova Scotians.

How do you keep the project/providers on track?

Build Nova Scotia has signed Contribution and Service Delivery Agreements with the providers. The Contribution Agreement includes provisions for the regular review of network construction (inspections and audits) and progress against schedule for the projects. The Service Delivery Agreement includes provisions that require regular quality and service reporting to ensure the network is meeting the standards defined by Build Nova Scotia (ie. upload/download speeds, etc.).

Build Nova Scotia has regular meetings with partners to review and check progress against their objectives. We are able to check on equipment and installation progress through pictures and video, and, when it is safe to do so, through in-person inspections by an experienced network engineer.

How do you monitor progress and ensure accountability with these agreements?

The Service Level Agreements signed with Build Nova Scotia include provisions that require regular quality and service reporting and allow us to inspect and audit the network installation.

We are having regular meetings with partners to review and check progress against their objectives. We are able to check on equipment and installation progress through pictures and video, and, when it is safe to do so, through in-person inspections by an experienced network engineer.

Why did you go through a formal process and don’t just give money to providers if they already have infrastructure in place near my home/business/community?

We worked through a competitive procurement process which is important. It ensured fairness, transparency in how proposals are evaluated, and informed decision-making. It also encouraged both large and small organizations, of many different types, to participate.

It is because of the integrity of this process that good recommendations could be made to the arms-length Trust for the investment of significant public funds. We also worked to leverage funds from the Internet Service Providers and other partners.

What about affordability of service? Are there data caps with any of the approved projects?

Included in the Service Level Agreements with providers are provisions to ensure pricing competitiveness. Comparable Internet services must be price competitive with those already available, regardless of where they are offered. The same service should be priced the same in Scots Bay as it is in Halifax.

In terms of data caps, this is something that is regulated federally by the CRTC. However, in order for a service to be cost competitive between markets, what you receive as part of that service must be comparable. If one service has a data cap, and the other does not, the services are not comparable.

I am having issues with my current Internet provider. What are my options?

If you are not able to resolve directly you can reach out to the Federal government who regulates Internet Service Providers and sets the minimum speeds. Some contacts for your reference.

  • Contact Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a consumer-advocacy group based in Ottawa that specializes in Canadian telecommunications. They can provide information regarding contracts & pricing issues.

    piac@piac.ca | 1-613-562-4002

What kind of protection is in place for us regarding Internet?

The Federal government’s Internet Code protects Canadians who subscribe to Internet services.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) created the code so that customers of Internet services are better informed of their rights and responsibilities contained in their contracts with service providers. This includes easy to understand contracts, clearer information about prices, bill shock protection and greater flexibility. Read more here.

What happens after the project wraps up?

Build Nova Scotia holds the Service Delivery Agreements with the providers for 10 years. These ensure accountability for service and quality standards, a competitive pricing structure, and ongoing maintenance and investment in the network.

What about high-speed Internet in Pictou County?

The Pictou Consortium is leading their own high-speed Internet project for the area. Learn more here.

In Feb. 2023, the Province invested in the project.Province Invests in Independent Pictou County High-Speed Internet Project | Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative | Build Nova Scotia (buildns.ca)

As of Nov. 30, 2022 the rebate program will expand to those homes and businesses that currently don’t have access to high-speed internet. This includes those in a current project area, not yet complete.

The rebate remains available to the approximate 3,700 homes and businesses for which no feasible wired or wireless internet solution has been found as well as addresses previously identified as not receiving high-speed access until after the end of 2023.

You can check eligibility here.

If eligible, and you are interested in taking part in the program, you will first need to purchase the hardware from a qualified satellite internet provider. Their high-speed satellite product must meet or exceed CRTC minimum speed targets of 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps.

Click here to learn more about how the program works.

What about cell coverage?

The Province understands the importance of reliable cell coverage and recognizes this is an issue in many rural areas of the province.

On October 26, 2023, the Province announced it is investing $47.3 million to start the new Cellular for Nova Scotia Program to expand telecommunications infrastructure and communications networks throughout the province.

Build Nova Scotia has been charged by the Province to plan, design, and manage the implementation of expanded cellular coverage throughout the province.

Led by Build Nova Scotia, this will involve a two-phased approach:

  • The first Request for Proposals (RFP) which is now closed, is seeking more immediate innovative and cost-effective proposals to install cellular equipment on existing provincially-owned towers and other existing towers and/or infrastructure identified by proponents to expand cell coverage in underserved areas.
  • RFP 2 will follow to seek solutions to address remaining gap areas.

This will also ensure that the solutions identified are sustainable and are being coordinated with federal and provincial initiatives planned or underway, while ensuring maximum coverage as early as possible.

This investment is based on an initial understanding/analysis of the anticipated cost however responses to the RFPs will better determine exact costs.

Build Nova Scotia will look to maximize investments from and leverage key partnerships with the Federal Government, municipalities, and the private sector.

Overall, the goal is to reach the following coverage targets throughout the populated areas of the province: 

  1. 99% coverage for Basic Voice Call service
  2. 95% coverage for Standard-Definition service (e.g.  emails, web browsing and social media)
  3. 85% coverage for High-Definition service (e.g. video conferencing, movie streaming, and other data intensive applications)

The initial focus will be major transportation corridors and areas with civic addresses.
Read more here.


The Province continues to deliver on the provincial Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative, which extends fibre networks further into communities, thus helping to improve the business case for cell providers to provide improved cell service across the province, where possible.

Should we expect further shifts in project areas?

Build Nova Scotia continues to work closely with partners to mitigate issues in the project delivery where possible, looking at potential solutions. Updates as remaining projects progress will continue until completed.

How can I sign up for future Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative updates?

Complete our contact form, email us at satellite@buildns.ca or call 1-800-298-2854.


What is the Nova Scotia Internet Trust Fund?

The Nova Scotia Internet Trust Fund is a $193 million fund established in 2018 by the government to bring access to high-speed Internet to 95% and as close to 100% of Nova Scotian homes and businesses as possible.

Build Nova Scotia was engaged by the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust to plan, design, and manage the implementation of the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative.

How does this tie into the Federal rural broadband program?

The projects announced in both Round 1 and 2 are funded entirely through the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust. We continue to work with our Federal counterparts to understand and align with their programming accordingly.

What efforts took place to support people during COVID-19?


In March, 2020 with the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the Province committed that up to an additional $15M could be spent of the $193M already committed to the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust.

This helped to support acceleration of Internet delivery for health and education, and for business continuity and competitiveness. This was in addition to the $45M originally committed to the first round of projects.

Approximately $5.6M was invested to speed up installation of Round 1 projects. The efforts were designed to support the installation of 19 towers in 100 days verses 12 months in Cumberland/Colchester, faster completion in Elmsdale, Caledonia, and Shelburne projects, some easing of congestion on existing tower networks, as well as some acceleration of fibre installation in projects across Nova Scotia.

We have also been looking at all projects to work to eliminate red tape, speed up regulatory approvals, and ensure better coordination among all of the people working to bring service to your door, where possible.

What happens to the remainder of the additional $15M indicated for accelerated projects?

We continue to work with our Internet service partners to look at every project to see if acceleration is possible. Any remaining funds will be part of the Nova Scotia Internet Trust for future projects.

What does the Rogers and Seaside announcement mean for the project?

In 2021, Seaside Communications and Rogers Communications announced a joint agreement that would see Rogers acquire Seaside, a leading, locally operated, telecommunications company based in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Rogers has committed to retaining Seaside's local presence and all existing staff moving forward. Read more here.

We're looking forward to continuing our partnership through the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative and the projects we have underway with Seaside to bring access to high-speed Internet to those areas.

Visit Seaside's update page including FAQ's for more information.

What about 5G options?

We are focused on outcomes not technologies. We have invited service providers to put forward their best solutions to meet requirements now and into the future. We’re confident that when it is feasible for providers to include new technologies in their solutions, they will do so. In the end, we’ll rely on federal regulators to guide the introduction of these technologies into the Canadian marketplace.

How does the position by the federal government—siding with large companies on CRTC decision to lower wholesale rates—impact progress here in Nova Scotia?

Neither the original CRTC decision, nor an impending review decision, has prevented the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative from progressing. Each pre-approved Internet Service Provider makes its own decision to respond to our Request for Proposals based on individual business circumstances, and we respect whatever they decide.

Have questions?
Need more information?

Please use the link below to reach out to our team. If you are reaching out about a project or potential project in your area, please include your full address, community and postal code.

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