Broadband rollout to more than 280 rural and remote communities complete
February 26, 2016
Posted by: Alison Hermansen
February 26, 2016
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that more than 280 rural and remote communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec now have access to broadband Internet services.
Under a plan that was approved by the CRTC in 2010, Bell Canada, MTS Allstream and TELUS spent $422 million on broadband expansion to rural and remote communities. Bell and MTS completed their broadband expansions in 2014. TELUS finalized its expansion in December 2015.
Basic telecommunication services
The completion of this work coincides with the CRTC's review of basic telecommunication services. In April of 2015, the CRTC launched an extensive process to ensure Canadians have the telecommunications services, including broadband Internet, they need to fully participate in the digital economy.
Canadians who wish to participate in this important process can fill out a simple questionnaire. Canadians who cannot access the questionnaire online may call 1-877-249-CRTC (2782) to fill it out over the phone with an agent or to request a paper copy. (A prepaid return envelope will be supplied.) Canadians may also send a fax to 819-994-0218 to request a copy to complete and send back. The responses to the questionnaire (online, phone, fax or mail) must be completed and received by the CRTC by February 29, 2016.
Since January 14, 2016, nearly 25,000 people have responded to the CRTC's questionnaire on broadband Internet services, indicating that the topic is important for many Canadians. The CRTC is holding a public hearing on these issues starting April 11, 2016 in Gatineau, Quebec.
- In 2010, the CRTC approved plans by Bell, MTS and TELUS to spend $422 million from their deferral accounts on rural and remote broadband access.
- More than 131,000 Canadian households now have access to broadband Internet services thanks to the requirements set out by the CRTC.
- TELUS connected 159 communities. Bell connected 112 and MTS 16.
- The service providers used various technologies to provide broadband in the rural and remote communities, including digital subscriber line, fixed wireless and high-speed packet access.
- In 2002, the CRTC required the companies to establish deferral accounts. How funds accumulated in these accounts should be distributed was contested in the courts and the Supreme Court eventually upheld the CRTC's decision.
- The companies were also required to rebate their urban home telephone customers $310.8 million and invest $35 million in initiatives designed to make telecommunications services more accessible to Canadians living with disabilities.
"We are pleased that three of Canada's largest telecommunications providers have finally completed their broadband rollout. This process began a number of years ago, so it's gratifying to see its completion. The road to this outcome has not been easy. Our decision has helped ensure that more Canadians living in rural and remote communities now have access to broadband Internet, which enables them to participate actively in the digital economy."
- Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman, CRTC