The chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Jean-Pierre Blais, has announced a move to declare broadband Internet access as a basic service, just like current landline telephone service.
The CERC says that the move will be costly and it will require business and government assistance. Blais said that the shift needs to be implemented so that some people and their communities are not left behind. In a statement, he said:
“The future of our economy, our prosperity and our society — indeed, the future of every citizen — requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century. Today’s decision signals a fundamental shift in our regulations for basic services from voice-related issues to broadband-related issues.”
Making access to high-speed Internet services a reality could cost tens of billions of dollars. The aim is to ensure service providers offer internet services nationwide at speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading data, and 10 Mbps for uploads, the CRTC said in announcing the new targets. In a statement, Blais said:
“The commission’s approach to affordability has always been through market forces — to make sure we have enough competitors, we have informed consumers that are working in a dynamic marketplace. If that step does not work, then we’ll intervene with a regulatory process.”
Currently, about 82 percent of households and businesses receive that level of service. The CRTC wants that increased to 90 per cent by 2021 and to 100 per cent within 10 to 15 years. The service providers will also be required to offer unlimited data options for all broadband service.
On Wednesday, the CRTC also ruled that within the next six months, service providers must give customers contracts that clearly spell out: the services being provided, usage limits, minimum monthly charges and the full cost of data overage charges.