November 26, 2020
Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Govt Officer
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Fee (CRTC)
Test in opposition to supply
Thanks, Madam Chair, for inviting us to seem earlier than your Committee.
I’m joined at the moment by Renée Doiron, Director of Broadband and Community Engineering, and Nanao Kachi, Director of Social and Client Coverage on the CRTC.
We start by applauding your members on your research on the accessibility and affordability of telecommunications companies. We take this chance to reiterate the necessity to shut the digital divide by making certain common entry to high-speed Web and a high-quality mobile community. All Canadians want quick, reasonably priced and dependable broadband Web and cellular entry to take part absolutely in at the moment’s financial system and society.
That is one thing the CRTC has been actively advancing since declaring broadband Web a fundamental telecommunications service a number of years in the past.
The CRTC’s common service goal requires all Canadians to have entry to fastened broadband at obtain speeds of no less than 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and add speeds of 10 Mbps, in addition to a vast information possibility. It additionally requires the newest cellular wi-fi expertise to be out there to all Canadian properties and companies, and alongside main roads.
Whereas assembly this commonplace has been a precedence for a while, the profound financial and social upheaval brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the necessity for broadband in communities which are underserved.
On the CRTC, we would like – and anticipate – all Canadians to have entry to broadband Web companies on each fastened and cellular wi-fi networks to allow them to work, be taught and entry well being care and civic establishments.
It’s at the moment not the case, as many rural and distant communities are underserved by Web applied sciences. In response to the newest information, 45% of households in rural and distant areas had entry to the CRTC’s common service goal by the tip of 2019. Whereas that’s progress from the 41% who had entry in 2018, far too many households are being challenged by poor Web connections.
To assist resolve this unlucky actuality, the Fee launched the CRTC Broadband Fund to enhance companies in rural and distant areas that lack an appropriate stage of entry.
The $750 million Fund – unfold over 5 years – is designed to assist construct or improve entry and transport infrastructure to supply fastened and cellular wi-fi broadband Web service in underserved areas. The important thing phrase right here is assist. The Fund is a complement to current and future non-public funding and public funding.
As much as 10% of the annual quantity might be geared toward satellite-dependent communities. Particular consideration might also be given to tasks in Indigenous or official-language minority communities.
Our first name for purposes was issued in June 2019. The decision focused the hardest-to-serve areas within the nation: the territories and the satellite-dependent communities.
This previous August, we introduced the primary recipients of this focused funding. 5 tasks will share a complete of $72.1 million to enhance Web entry companies to greater than 10,100 households in 51 communities within the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and northern Manitoba. Nearly all of these communities are Indigenous. There can even be a complete of 316 km of latest fibre put in within the Yukon and Northwest Territories to attach many communities.
The tasks will serve a number of the most distant areas in Canada, the place the geography and local weather current distinctive challenges to offering broadband Web entry and cellular wi-fi companies. The costs dedicated to by the recipients have to be maintained for no less than 5 years after the infrastructure is constructed. We anticipate that development for these tasks will start within the spring of 2021.
By way of affordability, recipients should present broadband companies at a value that’s no increased than broadband companies offered by service suppliers in main city areas in the identical territory of the undertaking. For tasks affecting satellite-dependent communities within the Northwest Territories, Yukon and northern Manitoba, the charges proposed by candidates had been in comparison with the charges for comparable companies offered in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
In November 2019, the CRTC issued a second name for purposes, which was open to all eligible areas throughout the nation. By the point the decision closed in June 2020, we had obtained 593 purposes requesting greater than $1.5 billion in complete funding. The evaluation of those purposes is a excessive precedence for the Fee. We’re working to determine these tasks that may yield the best advantages in closing the digital divide – and a few tasks could also be accredited before others.
We anticipate that 90% of households throughout the nation may have entry to fastened broadband Web companies that meet our common service goal by the tip of subsequent 12 months. As a rustic, we’re on the best path to attain this goal. The share of properties and companies with such connectivity had risen to 87.4% by the tip of 2019.
In fact, we would like all Canadians to get pleasure from the identical stage of connectivity as quickly as attainable. It will require private-sector investments in addition to authorities packages. We had been delighted with the federal government’s announcement earlier this month that it’s rising funding for the Common Broadband Fund. A number of provinces have additionally introduced packages to fund tasks of their areas.
These measures, mixed with the service suppliers’ investments of their networks, will carry broadband to much more households and assist shut the digital divide.
Our work on the CRTC can also be centered on the affordability of broadband and cellular wi-fi companies. Measures are being taken to handle this subject. I ought to warn you, nevertheless, that there are a variety of issues earlier than the Fee and we might not be capable of present detailed responses to your questions presently.
Entry to broadband is essential to spur innovation and empower Canadians to excel in a post-pandemic world – not simply in main city settings but in addition in villages, cities and small cities from coast to coast to coast. As COVID-19 has underscored, a person’s or enterprise’s bodily location, even during times of lockdown, is immaterial if there may be equitable and high-speed entry to the Web.
Talking of COVID-19, let me conclude by including that because the earliest days of the pandemic, we’ve got labored carefully with our companions throughout authorities to scale back the hurt brought on to Canadians by COVID-themed scams. Defending Canadians from fraudulent actions is one thing we proceed to work on.
So, once more, my colleagues and I need to thanks for shining a lightweight on the vital subject of the digital divide in Canada. As your committee’s research will little question affirm, few issues are extra vital to Canada’s future than ensuring Canadians in rural and distant areas have entry to high-quality Web service – identical to their city counterparts.
We might now be joyful to reply to your questions.