Canadian telco authority mandates broadband internet equality for rural areas

In recent years, increasing attention has been paid towards global broadband speeds with publications such as Akamai's most recent 'State of the Internet' report becoming the yardstick against which countries are measured.

Now, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is looking to improve its standing with regards to broadband speeds. In its announcement this week, the CRTC made the fundamental declaration that broadband internet access was "now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians." The public authority also took the opportunity to set a number of targets deemed necessary to enable Canadians to participate in the digital economy, specifically:

  • speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband Internet access services.
  • an unlimited data option for fixed broadband access services.
  • the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but also along major Canadian roads.

As per Akamai's Q3 2016 report, Canada's average broadband connection speed crept up to 13.8Mbps, up 16% from last year, while peak broadband speeds also increased to 62Mbps, representing an 18% improvement year-over-year. Despite 82% of Canadians already having access to broadband internet services delivering in excess of the new targets set by the CRTC, equivalent solutions still elude customers residing in rural areas.

While the CRTC's targets could be seen perhaps as overly aggressive, the selected upload and download speed targets were deliberately chosen in response to those set by Canada's trading partners. CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said:

"The U.S. is at 25 [Mbps], Australia’s at 25, Europe generally is targeting 30 and Germany is at 50."

“So we didn’t want to be in the middle of the pack.”

In terms of timeframes, the CRTC expected that 90% of all household services would meet its speed targets by the end of 2021, leaving the remaining 10% top be addressed "within 10 to 15 years."

Source: The Globe and Mail via Engadget | Internet concept image via Shutterstock

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