CRTC establishes network quality framework for basic internet service rollout

Round-trip latency should fall within a 50 millisecond threshold during peak times

CRTC site on phone

Canada’s telecom watchdog has established a preliminary network quality framework for its eventual rollout of broadband internet as a basic service.

According to a July 13th, 2018 decision, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has determined that internet access can only be defined as high-quality if it falls within a “round-trip latency threshold of 50 milliseconds, and a packet loss threshold of 0.25 percent, both based on measurement during peak times.”

The Commission didn’t precisely define performance peak times, but used “7pm to 11pm local time on weekdays” as an example.

Round-trip latency, also known as round-trip delay time, is the time it takes for a single packet of data to travel from a device to a server and back to a device.

Packet loss refers to the total amount of data lost during a signal transmission. Greater packet loss occurs when networks are congested or when network connections are poor.

If a webpage is able to load all of its text elements, but none of its visual elements — like GIFs or photos — packet loss has most likely taken place.

In addition to its latest decision, the CRTC has also ordered a new proceeding to establish a quality metric for jitter.

Latency and packet loss rely on the transmission of specific packets of data, but network jitter refers to inconsistent network latency.

For example, networks with inconsistent latency — meaning that it sometimes takes more or less time to transmit information — are more jittery than network with consistent latency.

Canadian telecom industry players have until August 13, 2018 to submit comments on the subject of network jitter.

One step closer

As a result of the CRTC’s latest decision, the Commission is one step closer towards implementing broadband internet as a basic service.

The CRTC first ruled in December 2016 that broadband internet access should be treated as a basic service for all Canadians, like access to water and electricity.

The Commission’s December 2016 ruling also determined that the basic internet network should feature download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps.

The December 2016 determination further set up a $750 million fund over five years in order to meet its internet as a basic service goal.

Source: CRTC