Connecting Families 2.0 is a band-aid to our deep telecom problems
Without competition in our telecom markets, low-income families will always be playing catchup
April 4, 2022 - This morning the Government of Canada announced Connecting Families 2.0, an expansion of 2018’s program providing low-cost Internet to qualified recipients.
OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield had this to say:
“Today’s announcement is great news for families who qualify for Connecting Families 2.0 — and a testament to how many people our broken telecom system will always leave behind. A five-fold increase in download speeds in the new plan sounds great - until you realize that actually means that two years into the work from home pandemic, low-income Canadians are only now being offered the CRTC’s minimum speed target of 50 mbps down connectivity. Expanding the program’s coverage to some low-income seniors is good news — but the program continues to apply only to households who receive a government invite and are collecting the maximum government assistance rate, meaning many thousands of low income households will not receive any help.”
“Affordable connectivity at reasonable speeds should not depend on your eligibility for specific government programs. This piecemeal approach will always leave out many people in need, and falls behind on delivering acceptable basic service. A 200 GB data limit for an entire household is unacceptable in 2022. It will prevent low-income seniors and families from using the Internet to its full potential today, and steadily deepen the digital divide for them in the years ahead, as Connecting Families 1.0’s miserly 10 mbps service for 100 GB offering already has. Canadians need our government to introduce more meaningful competition that will provide permanent downward pressure on prices for everyone, not continue rolling out extremely limited plans whose data and speed limits are dated on the day they’re announced. This is a fixable problem: the government has many unused tools to create more effective systemic change, including stepping in to create effective service-based home Internet and wireless competition; empowering the Competition Bureau to take proactive action against anti-competitive telecom behaviour; and appointing a new CRTC chair whose top priority is high quality Internet service at fair prices for everyone in Canada. We will continue to call for them to act to fix the big picture, not pursue these limited band-aid solutions.”