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No Rural Broadband Fund for Canada

OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today deplored the lack of vision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) as the regulator refused to create a fund for rural broadband access. The CRTC has said it will have a “target” for broadband access for all Canadians of 5 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload by the end of 2015 and it will “monitor” the situation to ensure this is delivered by “market forces”.

“If there is no rural broadband now, there will not be any more thanks to this decision,” said John Lawford, Counsel for PIAC who argued for a contribution fund for rural broadband access at the CRTC hearing in Gatineau, Quebec. “You’re on your own Canada – see you at the bottom of the OECD broadband lists,” he added.

The CRTC decision deals a second blow to rural consumers: higher local telephone costs, as the regulator will allow monopoly telephone providers to raise rates to $30 a month in all price regulated (rural and remote) areas of the country over the next three years.

The CRTC also removed “basic service objective” obligations to telephone customers of all telephone carriers in “forborne” – largely urban and suburban – areas, meaning customers are no longer assured such basic elements as the provision of a phone book.

“If this is a roadmap to the future, the CRTC is holding it upside-down,” said Lawford.

Read the full decision: Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-291

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