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In historic decision, Canada joins small handful of nations that define high-speed Internet as a basic service

Canada’s telecom regulator rules that all Canadians must have access to high-speed Internet, setting a positive example for the rest of the world

December 21, 2016:  Canada’s telecom regulator has just ruled that all Canadians must have access to reliable, world-class mobile and residential Internet services, no matter where they live. The historic decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) means that Canada has now joined a small handful of nations — including the U.S., Israel, Finland, Malta, Spain, and Switzerland — that define high-speed Internet as a basic service for all.

OpenMedia, which led a nearly 50,000-strong citizen movement for Internet as a basic service, describes today’s decision as truly historic. The ruling will be a game-changer for rural and underserved communities across Canada where Internet access is either unavailable or unaffordable, in part because of Canada’s rugged geography and low population density. OpenMedia says the ruling will set a great example for other nations considering how best to ensure all their citizens can get connected.

“Canadians asked for universal Internet access, support for rural communities, world-class speeds, unlimited data options, and minimum guarantees for the quality of their Internet. Today, we won it all - and there’s no reason why other nations across the world can’t do the same,” said Josh Tabish, campaigns director for OpenMedia, which led a nearly 50,000-strong citizen movement for Internet as a basic service.

Tabish continued: “Countries all over the world face many of the same challenges as Canada, especially when it comes to delivering reliable, high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities. These challenges can be surmounted, but it will take real political will to do so. I believe today’s ruling will inspire people across the globe and help pressure decision-makers to do the right thing and ensure all their citizens can benefit from what the Internet can offer.”

Key points from today’s CRTC decision, and the accompanying national broadband strategy:

  • 100% of Canadians must have access to reliable, world-class mobile and fixed Internet services.

  • New network speed targets of 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed, and the ability to subscribe to a fixed Internet package with an unlimited data option. In the U.S., the FCC defines “broadband” as 25 Mbps download and just 3 Mbps upload.

  • The decision includes: Internet access defined as a basic service, access to world-class speeds, options for unlimited data packages, and a level playing field for rural and remote Canadians.

  • Canadians from coast to coast to coast must have access to high-speed mobile and residential Internet connections. To fund this, the CRTC will redistribute hundreds of millions of dollars from telecommunications company revenues over the coming years.

  • Going forward, rural, remote, and urban communities must be able to access Internet speeds five times as fast as the U.S. minimum (10/1), and the fastest 4G/LTE mobile networks available.

  • Finally, the CRTC issued a new report outlining the imperative for a National Broadband Strategy and what the federal government should consider when building it.

OpenMedia’s community-driven submission to the CRTC argued that these new rules should not hinder industry, but should instead promote investment, competition, and openness.

Nearly 50,000 Canadians asked the CRTC to ensure affordable, world-class broadband for all at UnblockCanada.ca

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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