(KENORA) Wednesday, Dec. 21 – The Hon. Bob Nault, Member of Parliament for the Kenora riding, expressed his optimism following the declaration today by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that access to high-speed Internet is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians.
“This is especially good news for the residents of Northwestern Ontario. I strongly believe that reliable high-speed Internet will be an economic driving force in rural and remote communities, so I’m pleased to see the CRTC acknowledge its importance,” stated Nault.
The CRTC set new targets for internet service providers to offer customers in all parts of the country download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second and to also offer the option of unlimited data. Approximately two million Canadian households currently do not have access to this speed or data.
To achieve this goal, providers will be required to pay into a fund that’s set to grow to $750 million over five years. Companies will then be able to access the fund to help pay for infrastructure needed to extend high-speed service to areas where it is not currently available. “I realize that this is an ambitious target, however I am confident that because of this decision, having high-speed Internet access will see entrepreneurs choosing to live and keep their businesses in the North. If we want to be competitive, we simply need better Internet in order to attract new businesses and grow our economy,” added Nault.
The decision follows closely on the heels of the government’s announcement to invest in rural and remote communities launched last week. Connect to Innovate, a new program, aims to bring broadband Internet access to 300 rural and remote communities across Canada.
Connect to Innovate is primarily focused on the construction of new infrastructure, which moves large amounts of data in and out of communities at high speeds to connect institutions as well as to improve residential, business, and mobile services. A portion of the program’s funding will also include capacity upgrades, as well as last mile infrastructure projects to businesses and households who do not have speeds of at least 5 Megabits per second.
The Connect to Innovate program will be flexible on who can apply and will benefit many including, municipalities, First Nations Band Councils, and not-for-profit organizations.
“I have heard from many constituents about the frustrations of inconsistent Internet access. Canadians need access to high-speed Internet to fully participate in our economy, democracy, and way of life. In many rural and remote communities, challenging geography and smaller populations present barriers to private sector investment in building and maintaining high-speed Internet infrastructure. I am glad to see this government and the CRTC have recognized and acted on this,” concluded Nault.
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