Yesterday the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared broadband internet access to be a basic service.
A news conference was held at 4 p.m. ET by CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. Blais had previously stated that internet access should be made “vital” and essential to everyday life.
“The future of our economy, our prosperity and our society — indeed, the future of every citizen — requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century,” said Blais at yesterday’s news conference in Gatineau, Que. “Today’s decision signals a fundamental shift in our regulations for basic services from voice-related issues to broadband-related issues.”
— CRTCeng (@CRTCeng) December 21, 2016
Of course, universal access would be an expensive task and involve a ton of rebuilding of infrastructure.
That’s why the CRTC will now require internet providers to contribute to a fund that is set to accumulate $750 million over five years.
To those who may think that it’s odd to place internet access in the same category as food and water, the telephone landline was once considered vital, giving everyone in the country the right to having access to a landline. The fund that CRTC proposes is also modeled after a past fund that paid for the expansion of the landline telephone service. Landline providers once had to contribute 0.53 per cent of their revenues into that fund.
This rate will stay the same but will now include broadband service.
Currently the CRTC estimates that as many as two million Canadian households don’t have access to data.