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Northern Development Initiative Trust helping distribute rural internet service grants amid COVID-19

B.C. announces Phase Three of its $50-million connection program
Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Joel McKay. (via Jess Fedigan)

A Prince George-based organization will soon be put to work in getting faster internet connections to more smaller communities across the region.

The provincial government says its $50-million Connecting British Columbia program will soon be taking in a new wave of applications until the end of June to help update network services in rural, remote and Indigenous areas.

Service providers can apply for up to $50,000 in grants, or 90 per cent of total expenses, to cover equipment costs.

Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) will be accepting submissions on a first-come-first-serve basis and will add to the near-500 communities that have already completed high-speed internet connectivity projects since July 2017.

“We all have to work together to protect the health and safety of our families and neighbours,” said NDIT CEO Joel McKay in a statement.

“Immediate investments in network upgrades can help ensure that people have the reliable internet access they need, not just to work and study from home, but to keep in touch remotely with friends and family during this challenging time.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to staying, working and studying from home, which is another reason for the new round of funding as an increased demand for faster internet can lead to slower networks and even large outages.

“People working from home, students learning remotely and families practising physical distancing all need to know they can depend on internet access during this public-health emergency,” said Anne Kang, B.C. Minister of Citizens’ Services. 

“Responding to the pandemic requires the best from all of us. Our communities need reliable internet access right now, and this new fund will get projects completed quickly.”

Interested companies have until June 30 to submit an application to NDIT.

Grant decisions are expected to be made three to five business days once an application is reviewed.