While there are many questions still outstanding regarding the CRTC’s decision yesterday that broadband Internet service is now considered a “basic telecommunications service for all Canadians,” MobileSyrup reached out to carriers for comment on the ruling.
“Whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary — everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC. “The availability of broadband Internet, however, is an issue that can’t be solved by the CRTC alone. All players in the Canadian communications landscape will need to do their part to ensure Canadians have access to the services they need to participate in the digital economy.”
The CRTC is creating a new $750 million CAD fund over a five-year period to help build out internet service in rural areas, with the goal of giving all Canadians a basic 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload speed. It’s important to note that major telecom providers are mandated to contribute to the fund.
Some of the outstanding issues include that there is currently no real timeline to accomplish the massive task. Some pundits are stating that the targets are not strict enough, and that the $750 million fund is not enough to expand the infrastructure required to meet the speed goals. Some are even stating that this decision is a “non-event.”
Below are comments from Canadian carriers, consumer groups, and analysts and the CRTC’s recent ruling:
“No comment” at this time.
“We share the CRTC’s view that in order for Canadians to participate in the digital economy, they need access to high quality broadband. This is why we have been investing billions of dollars year-after-year to increase both wireline and wireless Internet capacity in rural and urban communities across Canada, and recently introduced Internet for Good in B.C. and AB to ensure lower-income families have inexpensive access.”
“Canada has some of the world’s fastest and largest telecommunications networks. Given the sheer size of the country, meeting Canadians’ rapidly-increasing demand for more Internet bandwidth will require sustained multi-billion-dollar capital investments over many years. TELUS has invested some $2.85 billion in new infrastructure this year alone, and by the end of 2019 will have invested about $46 billion since 2000”
“This is an important and complex decision. Before commenting more extensively, we need some time to review it.”
“We are reviewing the decision.”
“We are still reviewing the decision and have no comment at this time.”
“In the coming days we will review the decision. For the moment, no comments will be made.”
“High-speed internet is a must for Canadians to connect with their friends, families and communities and participate in the digital economy. While there are still many details to be worked out, we are encouraged by this reasonable plan to help increase access to Canadians in hard to reach areas of our country. At Rogers, we already offer speeds twenty times faster than the new target and have unlimited plans everywhere we offer internet.”
“No comment” at this time.
Jeff Fan, Scotiabank
We believe the absence of retail price regulation renders this decision a “non-event” from the capital market’s perspective. Providers maintain pricing flexibility on the requirement to offer unlimited fixed broadband usage. The min. fixed broadband speed of 50Mbps down/10Mbps up and mobile wireless coverage of major roads should not be an issue for the carriers given there are no buildout obligations. The underserved areas will be funded using public funding and a new funding mechanism, which simply replaces the old levy on voice with a new levy on wireline, wireless Internet, and texting at similar percentages with implementation expected in 2018. However, we should still pay close attention to the price reduction recently implemented by competitive ISP TekSavvy and the potential impact it could have on the market.
John Lawford, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
“The CRTC seized an important opportunity to make sure all Canadians, regardless of where they live can have access to the same standard of internet service that most Canadians already have. Although we believe more work is needed to address affordability, we are hopeful the CRTC’s submissions on affordability to the federal government, and its commitment to monitoring affordability, will eventually result in more support for low-income Canadians.”
“There is no question that broadband is an essential and indeed vital service that all Canadians should have access to so that they are able to participate in Canadian society and the digital economy,” said Geoff White, Counsel to the Coalition. “Although there are many details to be determined, this is one the CRTC’s most important, transformational decisions, and one that will have lasting, positive effects for all Canadians.”
Law professor & Canada research chair in internet and e-commerce Law
“Given that the CRTC largely avoids imposing regulatory requirements in this decision, more than just money will be needed to meet the broadband challenge. The Commission could have gone much further in mandating broadband obligations, addressing affordability, and curtailing data caps. It calls this decision ‘Modern Telecommunications Services — The Path Forward for Canada’s Digital Economy’ and while it sets the target for modern telecommunications services, the path for getting will still require much work.”