Xplornet invests $500 million over 5 years to deploy 5G internet in rural Canada

Xplornet LTE Network website on a phone

New Brunswick-based telecom provider Xplornet says it will invest over $500 million over the next five years to deliver 5G wireless services to Canadians.

“We are looking forward to giving our customers more and we believe rural Canada can benefit from 5G services and the technology,” James Maunder, Xplornet’s vice-president of communications and public affairs, said in a phone call.

With the help of the government’s Accelerated Investment Incentive, announced in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, Xplornet plans to offer double the speeds that customers have now by 50 Mbps and eventually offer 100 Mbps speeds to rural Canadians by the end of 2020.

Maunder said that the company wasn’t in a position to talk about how much internet services are going to cost at the moment, but said that Xplornet’s objective is to offer a service that’s affordable.

“We need to be in the business of offering competitive services that offer value that customers want to pay for, and traditionally when we have increased speeds… there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in price,” he said.

By the end of next year, the investment will help the regional player provide “5G-ready wireless services across Canada, supported by new investments in a fibre backbone capable of delivering speeds of at least 1 Gbps.”

The announcement comes at the same time that the company is pushing forward with getting rural homes and businesses ready for 5G specifically in Prince Edward Island.

Over 20,000 rural homes in over 300 communities will get 5G services in the future.

Xplornet’s CEO Allison Lenehan said: “5G technology is not just about urban Canada – we believe strongly that 5G can enable amazing broadband services in rural Canada.”

The regional player is also participating in the ongoing 600 MHz auction. The band is valuable because it can help deploy 5G.

Since the auction began on March 12th, there has been a media blackout (the government and bidders aren’t allowed to talk about the auction until it is over). As such, Maunder was not able to talk about Xplornet’s involvement, but did say that any auction where players are able to get spectrum is important.

“I can’t talk about the auction… but in order to deliver 5G, you need spectrum across all ranges of the bands. You have low, medium, and high bands and Xplornet has the spectrum necessary to deploy 5G,” he said.