CRTC Decision: Broadband for all Canadians, and a new fund for rural and remote areas

As noted in the December newsletter, Professor Heather Hudson, Sproul Fellow in 2015, is an adviser to the First Mile Connectivity Consortium (FMCC), an award-winning Canadian indigenous communications organization. She testified for the FMCC as an expert witness at a regulatory hearing on broadband held by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 2016.

Professor Hudson reports that the CRTC has now issued its decision, and has determined that broadband is a basic telecommunications service that must be available to ALL Canadians. It has set an ambitious target of 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload (considerably higher than the target for all Americans of 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up set by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.)

The CRTC has also established a new fund to expand and upgrade broadband for rural and remote areas with a total of CAD750 million over 5 years. The fund is to be open to applications from all qualified communications providers, including indigenous organizations.

Professor Hudson notes that the CRTC decision is a major victory for indigenous residents of rural and remote areas, and included several references to FMCC’s testimony. However, she points out that “the devil is in the details” as a follow-up hearing will be held to establish specific criteria and procedures for the new fund.