Dear Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel,
I am a concerned citizen who would like to emphasize the importance of the following issues as part of the review of Canada’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts:
Canada currently pays some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for what is widely recognized as sub-par service. The Internet is not a luxury in the 21st century, it’s a basic service.
The current Telecommunications Act includes the objective: “to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada.” But this objective remains far from a reality for many throughout Canada. Until the government steps in with a clear plan and budget to make this happen, it’s nothing but wishful thinking.
We cannot afford any additional taxes and levies that would increase the cost of connectivity, including an Internet Tax, Netflix Tax or a Copyright Tax on broadband use.
We need access to quality networks throughout Canada – not just in urban centres. It’s time to bridge Canada’s digital divide. Waiting for market forces to address underserved people in Canada simply has not worked. The government of Canada must commit serious funding to a thorough national broadband strategy. For reference, CBC is subsidized at $35 per person and broadband funding is about $2.25.*
Without government investment and prioritization, people in Canada will continue to struggle to get online with quality and affordable access.
Under no circumstances can we afford to let our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) pick and choose what we can and cannot see and do online. Canada has a long history of Net Neutrality. But right now, our only protections for Net Neutrality come from a handful of historical CRTC decisions about Net Neutrality – not the rules themselves. The current framework leaves the door open for Net Neutrality violations that are perfectly legal.
Net Neutrality must be enforced with clear common carriage rules, which dictate all content to be treated equally. The rules must be applied without exception, and before any abuses by Big Telecom take place.
This also means the government should reject website blocking proposals like Bell-led “FairPlay Canada,” which would violate Net Neutrality principles and create a dangerous precedent for other censorship plans.
More Choice of Providers
Big Telecom’s current stronghold on our telecom market has resulted in some of the highest prices in the world, and limited choice in providers, plans, and quality of service. We need choice in our telecom markets to allow people to pick the providers that work best for them. More choice equals more flexibility, more affordability, and the freedom to ensure we’re getting the services we need from the provider we choose.
If we don’t increase competition in the marketplace, we’re going to need structural separation to break up the vertically integrated conglomerates, to ensure greater choice and competition, and clear delineation of interests between the different segments of the companies.
Please take the above concerns into account as you review Canada’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts, and ensure any recommendations put forward put the public interest at the heart of Canada’s communications laws.