The government’s decision to prorogue Parliament and launch a new legislative agenda later this month offers more than just an opportunity to recalibrate economic priorities in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that less than 12 months after the 2019 national election, Canada’s digital policy agenda has gone off the rails and is badly in need of a reboot.
Post Tagged with: "broadband"
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 51: Canada’s Urban-Rural Broadband Divide – Josh Tabish on CIRA’s Internet Performance Data
The state of Internet access in Canada has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years as consumers and businesses alike assess whether Canada has kept pace with the need for universal access to fast, affordable broadband. What is now beyond debate is that there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians without access to broadband services from local providers and that for those that have access, actual speeds may be lower than advertised and below the targets set by the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, manages the dot-ca domain and has played an increasingly important role on Internet policy matters. CIRA recently submitted a report on the urban-rural broadband divide as part of a CRTC process on potential barriers to broadband in underserved areas. Josh Tabish from CIRA joins me this week on the podcast to discuss the IPT, the CRTC submission, and the future of universal access to broadband in Canada.
The question should be an easy, slam-dunk: will you implement new Internet or wireless taxes to support the creation of Canadian content? Given that Canada has some of the highest Internet and wireless costs in the world, rejecting new fees or taxes that would further increase those costs should not require any hedging or attempts to change the subject. In fact, while the Canadian Heritage committee and the CRTC have proposed new wireless fees and taxes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly rejected the approach. For example, minutes after the Heritage report was released, he told the press:
The Cultural Lobby Demands for Internet Taxes and Fees: The Forgotten Piece in Canada’s Lower Wireless and Internet Cost Puzzle
Over the past few weeks, both the National Post and Reuters have reported that the Liberals plan to include lower Internet and wireless costs as part of the fall election campaign. The reports indicate that reforms could include price caps or a firm commitment to facilitating the entry of new competitors in the form of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). I’ve posted regularly on Canada’s high wireless prices and efforts to address the issue (here, here, here, here, and here), which remain uncompetitive relative to many other countries (some of the reasons why are discussed in this LawBytes podcast episode with Antonios Drossos of Rewheel Research).
The OECD released the latest data on broadband usage this week highlighting yet again that the high costs of Canadian wireless services have real world consequences when it comes to consumer data usage. Earlier this month, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association President Robert Ghiz told an industry conference:
Consumption of mobile data – through all kinds of apps and every flavour of streaming content – continues to grow at an astounding rate in Canada. Mobile data traffic in our country increased by 41% between 2015 and 2016 alone.
Yet the OECD comparative data tells a far different story. First, OECD data indicates that Canada is at the low end of countries when measured by mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, ranking well below the OECD average and ahead of only six other OECD countries.