A Call to Action: CRTC Seeking Input on Future of Broadband

'€œDeciding exactly what constitutes a basic service is open to interpretation, of course. Years ago, it meant having a basic telephone line. In light of the growing importance of broadband to all aspects of Canadians'€™ lives, I can foresee the day when universal access to broadband will form part of the definition.'€
— CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais

fibre optics smallThe Canadian Radio­television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has initiated a review of basic telecommunications services (CRTC 2015-134). This review will examine the services, and service levels, required by Canadians to meaningfully participate in the digital economy. It will also determine the Commission'€™s role in mandating the availability of affordable, basic telecommunications services to all Canadians.

Why it Matters

The CRTC is asking whether broadband internet should be considered a '€œbasic telecommunications service,'€ equal in necessity to touch-tone telephone service. Currently, the CRTC only mandates that all Canadians have the capability to connect to the internet via low-speed data transmission at local rates.

Rural and remote communities will be a major focus of the review, since redefining broadband as a '€œbasic service'€ would obligate carriers to deliver services to these areas. The review will also examine potential funding mechanisms to support this deployment of modern telecommunications services to rural and remote communities.

The Process

Phase 1: The CRTC will conduct a review of its policies on basic telecommunications services in Canada, and gather information from industry.

Phase 2: The CRTC will invite all Canadians to submit their opinions on the telecommunications services they consider essential for the digital economy of today and the future.

Urgency

Responses (interventions) for Phase 1 of the CRTC review of basic telecommunications services are due by July 14, 2015. Phase 2 details will be announced later in 2015.

The last CRTC review of Basic Services was in 2011, and a lot can happen in the next four years.

Action Needed

Cybera strongly advises Canadian businesses and individuals with an interest in the internet service industry, or rural broadband, to make their views known and put on the record.

Submit your responses (interventions) for Phase 1 HERE.

Alternatively, join us. Share your ideas with Cybera (crtc-feedback@cybera.ca)  and we can participate together as a community.

Cybera's Vision

ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY: Mandate broadband internet to make it available to all Canadians who want to meaningfully participate in the digital economy at the lowest competitive rate. This broadband should be distributed at the minimum speed advertised to consumers or greater, NOT the maximum or less.

SPEED: The target speeds currently mandated by the CRTC (of 5 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up) should be considered too low. In the USA, the FCC recently increased the country'€™s minimum internet target speeds to 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up (from 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up). The CRTC should go one step further, and mandate that all Canadians have 35Mbps symmetrical access to the internet at affordable prices. Target speeds should be updated regularly as the technology improves. This is what is needed for Canadians to compete and contribute to the digital economy of today, and tomorrow.

PREPARING FOR EMERGING DEMAND: The volume of global data created daily is 2.5 Exabytes (or 2.5 billion Gigabytes), and this number is growing rapidly thanks to the rise of technologies such as the Internet of Things and sensor networks. The internet economy accounted for 21% of the GDP growth among G-20 nations over the last five years. Canada needs to ensure it has sufficient digital infrastructure to remain competitive in this market, and meet growing internet demands.

CONNECTING RURAL COMMUNITIES: The majority of currently underserved internet areas are in Canada'€™s rural and remote communities. It is vital that broadband be extended to all rural areas in Canada, particularly as traditional rural-based sectors (such as agriculture) become more technology-dependent. Rural communities will need the same digital infrastructure as urban areas to maintain these industries and to meaningfully participate in the digital economy.

Further Information

Visit the CRTC website or leave your comment on this discussion page.

Questions or comments can be directed to Cybera at crtc-feedback@cybera.ca.