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Media Advisory and Backgrounder: Affordable Access Coalition Regarding Upcoming CRTC Decision on Basic Telecommunications Services

Media Advisory and Backgrounder

PIAC will be available to comment on upcoming CRTC decision on broadband internet

(OTTAWA) At 4:00 PM EST December 21 the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will issue its decision on its Review of basic telecommunications services.

The proceeding, initiated in 2015 and culminating with a public hearing in April 2016, was a broad review of basic telecommunications services in Canada, including whether broadband internet access should be considered “basic telecommunications services” and therefore available to all Canadians, and whether funding support is necessary to make sure all Canadians have access to basic telecom services. The proceeding was conducted in reference to the Telecommunications Act, which requires the CRTC to exercise its powers and perform its duties with a view to implementing the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives, which includes the rendering of reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada, and responding to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) was part of the “Affordable Access Coalition”, along with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada), the Consumers’ Association of Canada, the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia; and the National Pensioners Federation.

Geoff White, PIAC’s External Counsel and co-counsel to the Affordable Access Coalition, will be at the CRTC advance “lockup” analyzing the decision and available for comment on-site at 4:00 PM.

Supported by two Environics surveys of Canadians, and a report from an expert on how other jurisdictions ensure all of their citizens have access to affordable telecommunications services, the Affordable Access Coalition argued that broadband access is without a doubt a “basic” and essential telecommunications service, and that the “basic” broadband speed is at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and may easily be 25 Mbps by 2020. This “basic” speed is the speed a household needs to meaningfully participate in society. Because the Coalition’s evidence indicated that not all Canadians have access to that basic speed, either because broadband is not available where they live, or because it is unaffordable to low-income Canadians, the Coalition proposed two subsidies to support broadband availability and affordability. This decision may lay the foundation for the deployment of higher-speed broadband to rural areas and a subsidy to make Internet more affordable for low income Canadians.

Media Advisory and Backgrounder re CRTC decision on basic telecommunications service FINAL

For more information, please see the attached backgrounder, or contact:

John Lawford Executive Director and General Counsel, PIAC
Co-counsel, Affordable Access Coalition
(613) 562-4002 ×25
jlawford@piac.ca

Geoff White External Counsel, PIAC
Co-counsel, Affordable Access Coalition
(613) 612-1190
geoff@geoffwhitelaw.ca

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