Canada Says High-Speed Internet Is 'Necessary To The Quality of Life For Canadians'

Canada's government announced that it now considers broadband internet a basic telecommunications service to which all Canadians should have access. This should make it so internet service providers (ISPs) in the country will have to provide high-speed connections to all their customers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said that Canadians need access to 50Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps to participate in the digital economy. It also said there should be no data caps on home internet services and that it wants "the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but also along major Canadian roads," so people can have high-speed internet access on the go.

Here's what CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement:

Access to broadband Internet service is vital and a basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive. Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country — whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary — everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services. We are doing our part to bring broadband services to rural and remote communities.

CRTC said that 82% of Canadians already have access to internet speeds of 50Mbps downloads and 10Mbps uploads. But the agency wants that figure to reach 100% so it's established a $750 million (CAD) fund to support projects that would expand high-speed internet access to rural and remote areas. That $750 million would be spent over the course of five years and focus on financing initiatives that haven't already received government assistance.

The announcement comes as many in the United States have to wonder if they'll gain access to internet connections with half the download speeds and one-third the upload speeds. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in January that 10 percent of Americans lack access to 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads; many of those people live in rural communities, on American Indian reservations, and within other under-served areas.

The FCC has previously tried to make high-speed internet available to more people. But with chairman Tom Wheeler, who supported broadband expansion as well as principles like net neutrality, departing in January the agency's efforts could lose some steam. That's because president-elect Donald Trump's advisers on telecom policy have opposed plans to use government funds to make broadband internet available to more Americans.

Yet lacking access to high-speed internet is an issue. Pew reported in December 2015 that many Americans without broadband connections feel they're at a "major disadvantage" when it comes to "finding out about job opportunities or gaining new career skills"; "learning about or accessing government services"; "learning new things that may improve or enrich their lives"; "getting health information"; and "keeping up with news and information."

CRTC recognized these shortcomings by establishing these new rules and making that $750 million available to expand internet access. The Great North might not be the warmest place in the world, but it already has better internet connectivity than its southern neighbor, and it's only going to get better.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

    I am in a major urban centre, I can't get 50mbps dsl because I am just the right distance from the hub to get 15mbps only.

    Many people are in the same situation... why? Because Bell is cheap and they didn't lay out their network topology properly for maximum connectivity. They laid it out to turn a profit.

    The double kick in the nutz is that Bell did this on the pax payers dime.
    Go Canada!
  • gggplaya
    50mbps/10mpbs up is not a "basic necessity", that's simply retarded. That's actually a very nice and respectable speed to have, not a BASIC necessity.

    Basic would mean that your kids can do their homework, research, get the news, apply for jobs online, and watch web videos at maybe 720p with little to no buffering.

    Being able to watch 4-5 1080p netflix streams at the same time is a luxury.
  • RomeoReject
    If there's any smaller companies in your area, use 'em. I'm in a small town (30,000) fairly close to Vancouver, yet I have two Gigabit options, four smaller companies who don't reach Gigabit speeds, along with the big three. In literally every metric I looked at, the big three were almost always the slowest, but the most expensive.
  • ko888
    The CRTC also said that we Canadians pay almost twice as much for each 1Mbps than Americans pay.
  • MWilly
    Well as long as we will be sending Canada Whoopi, and Barbara,and half of Hollywood I guess we could throw in Comcast too.
  • gdmaclew
    The CRTC is only solving half of the problems.
    They refused to address the outrageously high cost of wireless Internet (LTE).
    Rogers and Bell have got such a monopoly no wonder prices are still high.
    $110 Cdn for 20-50 GB.
    Although they did say that there should be no caps for home Internet. That might help but I'm not
    holding my breath.
  • Verrin
    Good luck getting any providers to pay even a cent of this. As long as the tax payers fund it, they're fine with it. But as soon as you threaten their profit margins, we'll be lucky if it only gets tied up in legal disputes for the foreseeable future.

    Both Bell and Rogers are notorious for being the worst for putting the priority of customer satisfaction on the bottom of their list of things that matter.
  • lun471k
    I live in the North of Quebec province. The only two options I have are Cablevision and Télébec, they both belong to Bell Alliant. I pay 83$/mo for 20mbps download and 1.5mbps upload.

    This change won't affect the prices, but at least my Internet will stop freezing my cloud backup solutions start running (Dropbox, Google Photos, Drive, etc.). Can't wait for a 10mbps upload solution.
  • popatim
    Well that should double everyone Canadian's internet bill real soon...
    Someones got to pay for all that and 750mill is only a dent
  • Marc_46
    The CRTC (a political organisation ruling telecommunications in Canada) artificially hikes the telecommunication prices. It makes a lot more expensive than most western countries. Plus, they use our tax money to rule to their advantage.