Huge win! Toronto City Council supports Community Broadband
ConnectTO initiative lets Toronto fill the connectivity gaps left by Big Telecom
February 5, 2021 — Today Toronto City Council voted to pass ConnectTO, a plan to build municipal Internet infrastructure to fill the gaps left by Big Telecom. This is a historic opportunity to bring more affordable Internet, better networks, and more choice of providers to over one million residents in Toronto who are currently underserved.
The CRTC and federal government have suggested population density is a key driver of Internet investment; but the need for local government in Toronto to step in to ensure all residents have adequate connectivity signals the need for a serious shift in perspective, to examine how Canada’s Internet oligopolies are not serving us all equally — even in Canada’s largest city.
“This is an incredible day for Internet connectivity in Toronto! It’s exciting to see the city put the community first, by taking Internet access and affordability into their own hands,” said OpenMedia Campaigner Erin Knight. “Today’s decision sends a strong message not just to the residents of Toronto, but the entire country: the affordability and service gaps left by Big Telecom will no longer be tolerated. For years, the CRTC and federal government trusted Big Telecom to ensure we all have the Internet we need. But huge gaps in affordable, quality service still exist. Toronto made the right call in going back to the drawing board, and this should set the stage for a new approach to broadband rollout nationally.”
The ConnectTO project will fill in gaps for fibre connectivity where they exist within the city, and provide more affordable options for low-income families who cannot currently afford Internet that meets their needs.
Amendments to the original proposal accepted by city council today include:
Two requests to the CRTC, to finally implement their 2015 plan for opening wholesale access for fibre broadband, as well as force telecom companies to roll over customers’ unused data at the end of their billing cycle.
Expanding the scope of the project’s exploration to examine public wifi options, prioritize low-income neighbourhoods and senior citizens, consult with the community and anti-poverty advocates, and locate existing city-owned infrastructure assets to leverage for connectivity.
Community broadband has already been successful in other municipalities across Canada, such as Coquitlam, BC, Stratford, ON, and Olds, AB. Where it’s been implemented, community broadband has improved customers’ choice of providers, connected entire areas to speeds much higher than average, and often lowered Internet bills overall.
Over 2800 Toronto residents sent letters to Mayor Tory and their respective councillors in support of ConnectTO at openmedia.org/communitybroadbandTO. Over 5200 more people have spoken out calling for Community Broadband initiatives in other cities across Canada at https://community-broadband.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.