Xplornet preps for 5G rollout in 2020 with Eastern Ontario fibre investment

The telecom and Canadian government are jointly investing $36 million

Xplornet LTE Network website on a phone

Rural fixed wireless and satellite internet provider Xplornet is preparing for its first 5G offerings with a new fibre deployment jointly funded by the government.

The New Brunswick-based company today announced a joint investment of $36 million with the Canadian government to build out a fibre network in Eastern Ontario.

Xplornet is funding the majority of the project by setting aside $25.2 million, while the Government of Canada is pitching in $10.8 million via the Connect to Innovate program.

The project will begin immediately and is expected to be complete by 2020. It will offer ‘5G-ready’ internet technology with download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second to over 35,000 rural homes and businesses in three counties: Northumberland, Hastings and Lennox and Addington.

Those speeds are not in line with the expected peak theoretical speeds of 5G, but Xplornet clarified to MobileSyrup that actual 5G will depend on the delivery and implementation of 5G equipment.

The company noted that the timelines for this project happen to align with the timelines for when 5G equipment will arrive in Canada and therefore provides access to 5G for rural on the same timelines as urban Canada.

In any case, the 100Mbps speeds are much higher than Xplornet’s current offerings, which top out at 25Mbps for most areas.

“5G technology is not just about cities: it is about all of the unique services it can enable wherever you are in Canada,” said Xplornet CEO Allison Lenehan in a press release, further adding: “We are thrilled rural Ontario will be one of the first regions of Canada to be able to access 5G services when the technology is available in 2020.”

The project will deploy over 480 km of fibre, establishing a hybrid fibre-wireless network spanning 21 communities in the region.

Having a solid fibre backbone paves the way for 5G deployment, something both Bell and Telus have also mentioned. Xplornet plans to support this fibre infrastructure by deploying small cells and the latest wireless technology, using its licensed 3500 MHz spectrum holdings.

In addition to fixed wireless and satellite internet, Xplornet is preparing to launch mobile wireless service in Manitoba using wireless spectrum and subscribers divested from Bell Mobility as a condition of its MTS acquisition.