Since the beginning of our cable operations in 1972, Cogeco has invested massively in infrastructure to build a robust network to meet the continually growing needs of consumers for speed, data capacity and access in underserved areas. The current crisis has revealed how vital our role is. However, every day we see that Canadians still have a need to be connected or to receive higher Internet speeds.
Cogeco has committed to invest more than $1 billion over the next four years in the operation and expansion of our regional network. We are working closely with many municipalities to extend our network so that we can deliver high-speed connectivity to as many residents, families and businesses as possible. We hope the universal broadband fund announced last year can be launched quickly and that the CRTC can receive project proposals for the broadband fund very soon.
However, there are two important barriers to the deployment of our digital infrastructure. The first is access to support infrastructure. There are excessive delays in obtaining necessary permits for accessing support structures, such as poles, or municipal rights-of-way. These delays are slowing down more than 50 of our network expansion projects, which include hundreds of pending permits, preventing us from connecting close to 12,000 Canadian homes in a timely manner.
The second is the CRTC wholesale rates for high-speed Internet. We are very concerned by the CRTC's decision on wholesale rates and the negative impact it would have on rural and regional network investments going forward in Canada. Allowing independent service providers, often called resellers, to use our network at heavily discounted wholesale prices that are below our own cost, with no obligation for them to invest in network capacity, will not ensure ongoing and sustainable investment by Cogeco in its regional network.
Finally, we would like to bring to your attention that the regional market for mobile wireless services in Canada continues to be characterized by very limited competition and very high barriers to entry. Unlike the Internet market, there was no regulatory obligation for incumbents to provide new entrants access to their network. Mobile wireless spectrum, which is required to launch a wireless business, is scarce, as most of it has already been allocated. It is also expensive to acquire, as options have been designed for large operators and not for smaller regional ones.
Cogeco has the foundation to become a new entrant in this market. We have the broadband infrastructure required to build a wireless network. We already have some spectrum licences. We have customers in small cities and regional municipalities where 3.9 million Canadians live and work, and we have the investment capacity.
We believe that the solution can be found in a balanced regulatory regime that allows new companies to enter the wireless market in a sustainable way. With the proposal we made to the CRTC in February, regional wireline network companies like Cogeco would be granted regulated access to portions of the national incumbent's wireless network, while also being required to continue to invest in infrastructure.