It’s not often I will give credit like this, but kudos to the federal government for declaring broadband Internet as a basic service for all Canadians. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Communications made the announcement on Dec. 21, 2016.
“Access to broadband Internet service is vital and a basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive,” CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement. “We are doing our part to bring broadband services to rural and remote communities.”
As per a Canada News Wire news release, the CRTC has outlined several objectives to meet this requirement:
. 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.
The news release also says 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.
Last year, I wrote that remote regions like Nunavut should receive the same or similar service that we have.
Granted, it’s not easy to establish and maintain inexpensive Internet service in remote regions like that. At the same time, it’s not right that they should be limited or denied the kinds of services that we enjoy.
With online financial services, shopping, education, health information, social media, video streaming and online video gaming part of our daily lives, no one should be denied high-speed access.
A day doesn’t go by when I’m not on using Facebook or Twitter, checking my emails and uploading/downloading content through the Internet.
High-speed Internet access has become essential to me, to upload videos of events like hockey games and school Christmas concerts to Facebook.
Thus, I don’t take for granted the access that I have now.
So, yes, the CRTC is right to declare broadband Internet service a basic service that all Canadians should have access to.
My hope is that where Internet Service Providers are struggling to improve their infrastructure and choices for consumers, that they will work with the CRTC to upgrade accordingly.
I also hope companies like Telus and Bell Media will contribute to the CRTC’s fund, not just as mandated but to demonstrate goodwill to consumers, that they have their interests at heart. That’s the best outcome for all concerned.