Canada seems to have left its role as the United States’ younger sibling behind over the past few years, as they have taken on a tradition of leading and not following under their beloved prime minister, Justin Trudeau. While most people tend to think of free healthcare and a remarkably progressive social agenda as the hallmarks of Canada’s success, Canada has once again shown itself as a progressive leader; this time in the broadband space.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications-Commission (CRTC), essentially Canada’s version of the FCC, recently announced that high-speed broadband internet access is now a basic telecommunications service that is a fundamental right and should be available for all Canadians. Not only that, but they have a plan to make it happen.
First, the CRTC clearly identified their goals in a release stating that they will work to give “Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas…access to voice and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks.” The CRTC has defined their high-speed goals as at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload, substantially faster than speeds than many rural Americans currently experience.
Canada even wants to make it so that there are unlimited data options for fixed broadband services along all of Canada’s major roadways, in addition to Canadian homes and businesses. Currently, 82% of Canadians already have access to those predefined download/upload speeds but the remaining 18% live in the Canadian wilderness. It’s these rural citizens that Canada wants to bring back into the fold with this new initiative.
Canada isn’t just talking to talk, they are ready to walk the walk with a $750 million investment to help meet their goals by upgrading the infrastructure in areas where the broadband service does not meet the previously mentioned criteria. They’ve given themselves a timeline to achieve these goals as well with the first phase to end in 2021. By the end of 2021 Canada has pledged to deliver this broadband service to 90% of Canadian businesses and households. The remaining 10% will likely reside in the more challenging areas to reach, so they hope to bring those people up to speed within 10-15 years depending on the circumstances.
Another important component of this initiative is not just to deliver broadband service, but to make it clear what consumers can expect from these services. These changes will go into effect in the near future with service providers ensuring their contracts are written in clear and precise language within the next six months.
This push to bring broadband services to all Canadians, specifically those stuck in rural areas is something the United States should certainly from. Having access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury in 2016, it is a necessity to compete in the current global climate. While the Canadian’s goals may seem a bit far fetched at first, they are achievable. It will be exciting to watch how these changes are implemented in the coming years.