After more than a year and a half of hearings and consultations with Canadians, advocacy groups, and service providers from across the country, the Canadian Radio Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) declared that broadband Internet connectivity is a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians. The announcement also included significantly improved target speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mpbs upload, provisions for unlimited data plans, and the creation of a new fund that will invest up to $750 million over the next five years over and above existing government programs and commitments.
“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 Jean-Pierre Blais, the CRTC’s chair, at a news conference in Gatineau, Quebec.
“On behalf of the SWIFT Board, I would like to congratulate the CRTC for taking a progressive step forward with this ruling,” said SWIFT Board Chair Gerry Marshall. “For more than five years, SWIFT has maintained that regardless of where you live, you deserve high quality, high speed Internet service and we are pleased to see our national regulatory body take significant steps toward supporting the importance of connecting rural Canadians. While it is too soon to determine if SWIFT will seek additional funding through the new CRTC program, SWIFT will make this ruling come to life by building broadband for everyone in southwestern Ontario, Caledon and Niagara Region.”
“The target speeds set by the CRTC are still well below global standards of 1 Gbps or higher symmetrical upload and download – which is our target at SWIFT – but they certainly raise the bar above the current national goal of 5 Mpbs,” said Executive Director Geoff Hogan. “Most importantly, the CRTC ruling noted that broadband access cannot be driven by regulators alone and underscored the importance of ensuring affordability and choice among service providers. This is exactly what SWIFT will do for our communities.”
The SWIFT Initiative is based on the principle that everyone in Western Ontario deserves access to high-speed Internet, regardless of the size of their community, their age, education, or where they work. SWIFT will build an affordable, open-access, ultra-high-speed fibre-optic regional broadband network for everyone in southwestern Ontario and Niagara Region.