CRTC declares broadband access as a basic right
Canada’s telecoms regulator has declared that all residents are entitled to access voice and broadband services on fixed and mobile wireless networks.
The Canada Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has set telcos targets of offering speeds 10 times faster than the average currently available in the country, as part of plans to build broadband networks in rural and remote areas over the next five years.
Telcos will be compelled to help fund the $750 million infrastructure project, which will see CRTC introduce targets of 50Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps upload speeds to handle increasing demand for data.
CRTC said currently just 82% of households and businesses receive that level of service, but aims to increase that to 90% within five years, and 100% in between 10-15 years.
“These goals are ambitious, they will not be easy to achieve and they will cost money. But we have no choice,” Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said at a news conference.
“The future of our economy, our prosperity, our society – indeed the future of every citizen – requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century.”
The move will be funded in part by reallocating a $100 million subsidy for voice services towards broadband, while the regulator will also continue to collect money from service providers.
At a press conference, Blais explained that up to 10% of the money raised during the first five years of the project will go towards satellite-dependent communities.
Blais ruled out pricing caps, however, saying that the regulator would monitor pricing as new high-speed services are put in to place.
The Canadian government has already announced a $500 million fund to build new high-speed infrastructure.