Affordable Access Coalition tells CRTC that all Canadians entitled to at least 5 Mbps today and 25 Mbps by 2020, and proposes subsidies to achieve those goals
OTTAWA, July 14, 2015 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed arguments in the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) “Review of basic telecommunications” hearing arguing all Canadians, no matter where they live, have a right to broadband internet today and much faster broadband by 2020, and that low-income Canadians should be financially supported with a subsidy to help them afford any basic telecommunications service.
“The CRTC has an important opportunity to make sure all Canadians, regardless of where they live and what their socio-economic status, can have access to the same standard of internet and telephone service that most Canadians already have”, said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC.
The proposals were filed as part of a submission to the CRTC in its broad review of basic telecommunications services in Canada, including whether broadband (i.e., high speed internet access) should be considered “basic telecommunications services” and therefore available to all Canadians, and whether funding support (i.e., subsidies) are necessary to make sure all Canadians have access to basic telecom services.
“There should be no question that broadband, like home telephone service, is a ‘basic’ telecommunications service that all Canadians should have access to so that they are able to participate in Canadian society and the digital economy,” said Geoff White, Counsel to the coalition.
PIAC filed its proposals as part of a coalition with other organizations, named the Affordable Access Coalition (AAC). The other organizations are:

  • 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.

Supported by an Environics survey of 1,000 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 the legal standard for broadband speed at the household level today is already 5 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed. The AAC anticipates this standard may easily be 25 Mbps by 2020. Yet the coalition’s evidence suggests that not all Canadians have access to speeds that they need to meaningfully participate in society, either because broadband is not available where they live, or because it is unaffordable to low-income Canadians. The AAC therefore proposed two subsidies to support broadband availability and affordability. The “Access proposal” will result in a stable amount of funding to deploy broadband to un-served and under-served areas in Canada. The “Affordability proposal” will provide low-income Canadians with a monthly subsidy to use on the telecommunications service of their choice (broadband, home phone or cellphone service) and from the service provider of their choice.
A copy of the Affordable Access Coalition’s full intervention can be found here.
For more information please contact:
Geoff White
Counsel to the Affordable Access Coalition
(613) 562-4002 ×24
John Lawford
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ×25