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3.5 GHz Spectrum Announcement puts Affordable Broadband Access in Spotlight

OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) welcomes the Government’s recent wireless spectrum proposals to address the needs of Canadians, particularly those living in rural and remote areas. These include consultation on the AWS-4, AWS-3, and most recently, the 3.5 GHz spectrum bands.

In the most recent announcement, the Government is proposing to reconfigure the way it licenses 3.5 GHz wireless spectrum and to licence it for fixed high-speed wireless broadband use in rural areas, and as mobile broadband in urban areas (30,000 people or more). In addition, licensees will have six months to deploy their spectrum, or face the consequence of losing their licence.

“Deployment using in the 3.5 GHz spectrum has generally been low, and broadband penetration in Canada is also low, or available but unaffordable”, said John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. “Therefore it is important the Government is taking steps to get licensees to actually provide service, or clear the way for other willing service providers.”

The CRTC has reported that as of 2012 only 75% of Canadian households had internet access at 1.5 Mbps download speeds, and only 62% had internet access at 5 Mbps download speeds. When it comes to the leading edge LTE-speed of service, only 72% of Canadians had access. “Those figures reveal a large number of Canadians who cannot access internet service at a speed that can actually support the types of functions every Canadian should be able to use, such as video streaming and e-health”, said Geoffrey White, Counsel to PIAC. “There is also an important question about whether the access that Canadians will have to wireless broadband is affordable.”

PIAC will participate in the Government’s consultation, and advocate for measures that contribute to the availability of affordable broadband access for all Canadians regardless of their location. Comments can be submitted up until October 8, and then reply comments can be made until November 8. A link to the consultation is provided below.

For more information:

John Lawford
General Counsel and Executive Director
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
(613) 562-4002×25
(613) 447-8125 (cell)
jlawford@piac.ca

Geoffrey White
Counsel to PIAC
(613) 612-1190
gwhite@piac.ca

Link to Industry Canada’s Consultation on Policy Changes in the 3500 MHz Band (3475-3650 MHz) and a New Licensing Process in Rural Areas

 

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