While the CRTC took an important step forward in recognizing broadband as an essential telecommunications service, many are calling for broadband to be classified as an essential utility.

According to John G. Jung, Chairman and Co-Founder of ICF and the Executive Director of ICF Canada;

“In the digital age equitable access to the Internet is a determinant of one’s equal access to healthcare, education, government, marketplaces and the right to “pursue the gaining of a livelihood” as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are many countries, such as Finland, that have already declared the Internet and access to High-Speed Broadband services a human right. It is now time for Canada to step up and do so as well.” Incidentally, the United Nations, declared in 2012, that, “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet,” to be fundamental to, “all Rights under Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.”

Both ICF Canada and BDO Canada have published white papers calling for Canadian legislators to classify broadband as a basic utility. The implications are critical for agriculture, with the ICF Canada report citing:

The world’s agri-food systems depend on new applications made possible by sensors and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) for monitoring and improving agricultural yields, water irrigation, fires and tsunamis. In Ontario alone, the use of new precision agriculture technologies is expected to increase 500% within the next two years and thousands of new jobs are expected to emerge in the development and adoption of new precision agriculture technologies. The future of the “connected farm”… suggests ever-increasing systems integration that realizes cost-efficiencies within the Canadian agri-food chains as well as environmentally-sound resource use.

SWIFT is actively working to support the kind of equitable access to modern broadband services as called for by ICF Canada and BDO Canada. SWIFT is committed to building #broadbandforeveryone and we believe that, regardless of the size of your community, your age, education, or where you work, you deserve affordable access to high-speed broadband. Partners in the SWIFT initiative recognize that working with the community to bring fibre-optic connectivity to every citizen, farm, business, and organization is critical to our region’s prosperity. Connectivity is as vital to economic growth as reliable electricity, clean water, and good roads.

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