Moving Targets: CRTC Sets Universal Broadband Access Target By Year End But Govt Plan Is For 2019

The federal government released its Report on Plans and Priorities for 2014-15 today with departments and agencies identifying spending estimates and work priorities. The CRTC’s report offers some interesting insights into its main activities and targets, particularly with respect to broadband access.

The latest CRTC broadband target is for 100% of Canadian households to have access to broadband speeds of 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload by December 31, 2014. That target is a year ahead of schedule as last year’s report set the 100% target for the end of 2015. The new target is also difficult to reconcile with the government’s announcement that it plans to spend $305 million over the next five years to extend broadband to rural and remote areas. In fact, last week reports suggested that Industry Minister James Moore and the government had established a target of 2019 for universal access to broadband. If the CRTC target is achieved, the government’s broadband plans and targets would appear already outdated. Interestingly, Industry Canada’s report includes a target of 77% of the population with broadband subscriptions (not access) by March 2015, but broadband is defined is only 1.5 Mbps or higher.

The CRTC has also become more aggressive about its targets for broadband competition. Last year, it set a target of 50% of households having access to three or more broadband providers with a 5% annual increase thereafter. This year, it has set a target of 95% of households by March 2015 (oddly, it has scaled back its target for competitive access to broadcast distribution undertakings having targeted four or more last year, but only three or more this year).

In addition to broadband targets, the report features targets for everything from spam reduction to viewership of Canadian content. With the new anti-spam law set to take effect in July, the CRTC hopes to reduce spam by 10% over the next 12 months. The Canadian content targets have changed completely with the CRTC now focused on the viewership or listeners to Canadian content. By March 2015, the Commission target is 48% of total television viewing is to Canadian programming, while it wants 50% of radio listening to Canadian content. The CRTC targets differ slightly from those of Canadian Heritage, which set a target of 50% Canadian programming viewing by August 2015.


  1. I live in rural BC. TELUS is supposed to have this “connecting citizens” program in concert with the BC Government, funded by taxpayers. They can’t provide ANY service, let alone 5 MB. I have two providers, none of whom can provide more than 4 MB. One can barely struggle up to 1 MB. Cell service is …. spotty. Cable is non-existent.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    I built my own system, relying on radios I built and located to get signal to my house. I now have 20 MB service. Why couldn’t the rich, fat, telecom providers do that? They’re too busy licking the cream off the city spoons.

    And the Canadian government is hopeless.

  2. Eric Hacke says:

    What counts as broadband?
    Specifying only the speed requirement of broadband is missing a huge component of the access problem.

    Sure if you blanket rural areas in LTE you can get speeds well above 5Mbps, but the bandwidth caps on cellular connections are so tight that it prohibits most of the things you would use that speed for.

    The most expensive plan available at Rogers for an LTE modem gives you 20GB for $90. If you stream Netflix or download video games from Steam, you’ll blow through 20GB in a week or less. And overages are a ridiculous $10/GB over that.

    Moreover, cellular internet connections are not subject to the same sort of wholesale competition that wired is, and thus prices are unlikely to drop.

    Instead of just specifying speed, the CRTC should set targets for delivering wired broadband to a significant percentage of the population.

  3. @Eric: The problem with “targets for delivering wired broadband to a significant percentage of the population” is that the fat cat companies will continue as in the past — taking the cream and ignoring those of us not easy to reach (even if we are sparse, we still do business every day!).

    Agreed – speed is not the only issue; access, latency, overall bandwidth and general security are, too. But if we get “speed”, eventually we will have to get bandwidth with it.

    It drives me crazy that Industry Canada does nothing for us in rural areas – like the companies, they are in large centres that are easy to feed. The 700 mHz spectrum could feed those of us “out here”, but the Canadian Gov’t seems uninterested in compelling large corps like Telus, Bell, Shaw, Rogers etc to provide it to us. It would solve our problems with hills, trees, water etc…but they prefer to sell it off for billions and continue to forget that we could use it too.

    The CRTC has a target of Dec/14 and the Gov’t has one of 2019. Guess who’s going to win?

  4. Quite bluntly the CRTC and Govt have NO intention of putting the money into rural broadband. No PROFIT you see !!

    Have several friends who have to pay insanely high prices to get Xplornet or such cell phone tower service.

    You only annoy Bell, Rogers etc at your own risk !!

  5. Using what?
    Is there a new satellite being launched or going active this year?

    Canada’s REALLY large, and the road networks thin out enormously as one goes North.