Cybera’s response to CRTC consultation on barriers to deploying broadband

Last week, Cybera submitted a response to the CRTC’s Notice of Consultation 2019-406: Call for comments regarding potential barriers to the deployment of broadband-capable networks in underserved areas in Canada. In 2018, the CRTC finalized the Broadband Fund, a $750 Million investment over five years to fund broadband-capable networks across Canada. Its intention is to:

“Fund projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure for fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to achieve the universal service objective, in order to close the gap in connectivity in underserved areas.”

After launching its first call for proposals related to remote communities in NWT, Nunavut and Yukon, the CRTC expanded its list of eligible projects to include all areas of Canada, with a June 1, 2020 deadline.  

In its most recent call, the CRTC invited respondents to provide comments on existing barriers to the deployment of network infrastructure in Canada, and consider regulatory steps that could be taken to reduce the costs of deploying that infrastructure. In doing so, the CRTC hoped to apply these insights to complement the deployment of the Broadband Fund, and  reduce or eliminate the need for additional funding.

In our response to the CRTC’s Notice of Consultation, Cybera identified a number of areas where both regulatory and structural steps could be taken to better facilitate the deployment of broadband-capable network infrastructure. Some of our recommendations included:

  • Municipal access to funding: Municipalities should be able to access funding without having the required three years of experience in deploying and operating broadband infrastructure, or having to partner with an internet service provider.
  • Funding for application costs: The Commission should encourage parties who would not otherwise apply to do so by offering reimbursement for administrative costs incurred during the application process.
  • Option for up-front funding: The Commission should make up-front funding available for approved capital costs in order to encourage groups who may not otherwise have the resources to deploy broadband infrastructure.
  • Regulate wholesale transport access: The Commission should reinstate the regulation of access to wholesale transport services, for both fibre-based and ethernet services.
  • Require wholesale access for applicants: At a minimum, the Commission should require that successful funding applicants provide wholesale access to their network.
  • Efficient access to dark fibre: The Commission should revisit its tariff mechanism for dark fibre. Access to affordable layer-2 infrastructure for last-mile providers, at fair prices, will aid in the delivery of services to rural and remote regions.
  • Funding for support structure access and upgrades: The Commission should make funding available to cover the costs of accessing support structures.
  • Facilitate “dig once” policies:The Commission should outline best practices for other levels of government to prioritize “dig once” policies.

Cybera thanks the CRTC for its invitation to provide comments on this notice of consultation.

You can read our full submission here:

CRTC_ Broadband Fund Barriers – Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-406