OpenMedia Urges MPs to Support Bill Requiring Telecoms to Report Actual Internet Speeds

Image: OpenMedia

OpenMedia on Friday encouraged Members of Parliament from all parties to support Bill C-288, which would require internet service providers (ISPs) to accurately report average broadband network performance to the public in each of the areas they serve.

Bill C-288 comes from a private member and was tabled by MP Dan Mazier. It would amend the Telecommunications Act and is a reintroduced version of Bill C-299, which was proposed last year.

OpenMedia is a consumer advocacy group that champions affordable, unregulated internet and competition in Canada’s oligopolistic telecom industry.

Bill C-288 will provide Canadian internet customers with more information, allowing them to make better choices. It will also encourage competition between operators on network performance.

Sure, consumers have access to resources like PCMag‘s annual list of fastest Canadian ISPs and Ookla’s quarterly internet speed surveys, but Bill C-288 would bring in data, which more accurately represents real-world usage, directly from operators. ISPs that are particularly proud of their average network speeds might also market them directly to customers, improving the information’s reach.

Under the proposed bill, ISPs would need to accurately and publicly report key performance indicators of the internet connections they offer during peak usage times of their broadband service.

“When you sign up for an Internet plan, you deserve to know what you’re paying for,” said Matt Hatfield, Campaigns Director at OpenMedia.

“It’s a simple matter of truth and transparency. If an Internet provider is advertising certain speeds, consumers have the right to know BEFORE they buy if those speeds accurately reflect average network performance. Other countries have handled this issue — Canada is falling behind. We hope to see every MP support and help pass Bill C-288.”

According to OpenMedia, Bill C-288 will especially benefit Canadians living in rural or otherwise underserved areas.

“This legislation is particularly important for people in rural areas or those who rely on low-cost Internet service,” Hatfield added.

“High speed internet underperformance is irritating; but when lower speed Internet underperforms, it effectively denies people an essential service. Ensuring transparent and accurate broadband services is non-negotiable when it comes to closing the digital divide for underserved folks in Canada.”

OpenMedia pointed out that similar reporting requirements are already in place in Australia and the U.K. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the FCC mandates that ISPs use broadband labels that inform customers of average connection speeds and a wide range of other performance and cost information.