The Canadian Radio-television and Telecom Commission has declared that broadband internet is now a basic telecommunications service. While most Canadians live close to the US border, there are still many in remote locations where internet connectivity is either slow or non-existent. The CRTC estimates that roughly two million households do not have access to connections at acceptable speeds. Their new timeline has that number dropping to zero in the next 10 to 15 years.
The ruling orders the country's internet service providers to start working on bringing internet service to these rural and isolated areas, as well as increasing the speed of many inadequate connections. Before the CRTC's ruling, landline phone service was the only thing regulated as basic or essential. The CRTC's chair Pierre Blais has set these ambitious goals in the hopes of connecting all Canadians for the 21st century. The new baseline for internet speed will be set at 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload. Unlimited data must also be an option offered by providers.
The Canadian government is taking internet connectivity very seriously. In order to achieve these numbers, ISPs will be required to contribute to a $750 million infrastructure fund over the next five years. Other efforts include a $500 million federal investment for high speed broadband, and various programs to increase the nation's cell coverage and reliability.
While the ruling doesn't mention anything about pricing, many in the United States hope the FCC will pass similar legislation in the future. As Trump prepares to take office, Net Neutrality will undoubtedly be an issue his administration is going to face. It definitely appears like Canada is heading in the right direction so it will be interesting to see who follows next.
Lead photo credit Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press