Affordable high-speed Internet for all Canadians: Wednesday’s CRTC decision could change the face of Canada’s digital economy
December 19, 2016
On Wednesday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will issue its decision on its Review of Basic Telecommunications Services consultation.
OpenMedia alongside other experts and organizations have urged the CRTC to deliver a ruling to ensure high-speed mobile and residential broadband as a basic service, like telephone access, for all Canadians, regardless of where they live. Nearly 50,000 Canadians have endorsed this call at UnblockCanada.ca.
Midway through the consultation, CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais called for comments on a national strategy for broadband, stating that the hearings “may very well be the last best chance to get it right.”
Given the potential impact on Canadians’ ability to communicate, Wednesday’s decision has the potential to be one of the most significant in the telecom regulator’s 40-year history.
The CRTC’s decision will be issued at 4pm ET on Wednesday December 21. CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais will hold a 15 minute press conference at 4pm ET, delivering a short speech then taking questions from reporters.
The CRTC is also hosting a media lockup in their Gatineau headquarters from 2.15pm to 4pm ET on Wednesday. (Media who wish to attend this lockup can contact the CRTC at 819-997-9403 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further info)
CRTC headquarters is located at 1 Prom. du Portage, Gatineau, Québec.
OpenMedia’s headquarters is located in Vancouver, B.C.
For too many Canadians, Internet access is either unavailable or unaffordable, due to a digital divide keeping almost one in five Canadians offline. This divide disproportionately impacts low-income, rural, and other underserved communities who already face an uphill battle to participate fairly and meaningfully in our digital economy.
OpenMedia and others argue that only a properly-funded national strategy can tackle such an entrenched problem. We’ve asked the CRTC to create new rules to ensure all Canadians have access to guaranteed minimum service levels on fixed and mobile networks — rules that will enable all Canadians to enjoy equal opportunity to participate in the social and economic activities afforded by Internet access at a fair price.
Our community-driven submission argues that these new rules should not hinder industry, but should instead promote investment, competition, and openness.
“On Wednesday, we’re hoping the CRTC will make history and change the face of Canada’s digital future,” said Josh Tabish, OpenMedia’s Campaigns Director. “Far too many Canadians have been shut out of our digital economy because the Internet is either unaffordable or unavailable. We can’t go on leaving millions of families on the wrong side of the digital divide.
“Throughout our history, Canadians have had to work hard to build a more connected nation from coast to coast. 150 years ago, that meant building a railway from Ontario to B.C. Now we’re asking the CRTC to show that same level of vision and ambition, and plant the flag for a national strategy to ensure all of us, no matter our income level or where we live, can participate meaningfully in today’s digital society.”
OpenMedia’s Final Submission to the CRTC’s review of Basic Telecommunications Services
OpenMedia’s key asks to the CRTC are:
Define broadband as a basic service.
Create a rural build-out fund
End data caps
Adopt ambitious minimum speed targets
Create a mandated basic Internet package.
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.
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