The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared that broadband access Internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians. The CRTC is also setting ambitious new speed targets and creating a new fund that will invest up to $750 million over and above existing government programs.
Broadband and mobile services
Further to its legislative mandate, the CRTC has set the following targets for the basic telecommunications services that Canadians need to participate in the digital economy:
– speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband Internet access services.
an unlimited data option for fixed broadband access services.
– the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but also along major Canadian roads.
New funding for broadband projects
The CRTC is establishing a fund to support projects in areas that do not meet these targets. Applicants will be able to submit funding proposals in order to build or upgrade infrastructure for fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services. The fund will:
– make available up to $750 million over the first five years;
– be complementary to existing and future private investment and public funding;
– focus on underserved areas; and
– be managed at arm’s length by a third party.
Accessibility and tools for consumers
The CRTC wants Canadians to have access to the tools and services they need to empower themselves regarding fixed Internet access services. No later than six months from today, service providers should ensure that contracts are written in clear and plain language, and should make available online tools so consumers can easily manage their data usage.
Also, all wireless service providers will have to offer and publicize, no later than six months from today, mobile service packages that meet the needs of Canadians with disabilities.
The path forward for Canada’s digital economy
During its consultations with Canadians, the CRTC also identified further gaps regarding the adoption of broadband Internet services in Canada that are outside its core mandate. Today, the CRTC is submitting a report to the Innovation Agenda, as encouraged by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, on the availability and adoption of broadband Internet services in Canada. This report includes information on access gaps resulting from infrastructure, affordability and digital literacy issues, as well as barriers to connectivity in Indigenous communities.