Over the past months, the CRTC has been examining policies in place for delivering basic telephone services. The AAMDC put forward a position during the consultation period, outlined in a September 22 member bulletin available here.
One of the topics that the AAMDC position put forward is that Internet service should be included in the Basic Service Objective. The association stated that the world no longer relies solely on the telephone to stay connected. The Internet shows an ever greater predominance in the way that people stay connected and how vital information is spread.
In a recent article and speech, telecommunications companies and the CRTC state that 95 per cent of all Canadian households have access to broadband Internet. As an association, the AAMDC feels that this number is an overestimation of coverage, and that it does not reflect the reality of rural living.
According to the AAMDC Rural Connectivity Gap Analysis, only 60 per cent of rural Albertans have access to broadband Internet. When 40 per cent of rural dwellers have a disadvantage with growing local economies and businesses online, there remains a large service gap. When urban Albertans are added to the picture, the gap analysis found that 85 per cent of all Albertans have access to broadband Internet. This may be only a 10 per cent difference from the CRTC claims. However, if this were consistent country-wide, it would mean an additional 3.3 million people would not have access to broadband Internet. The gap analysis executive summary is available here.
The AAMDC is responding to the CRTC, expressing concern over the accuracy of its numbers and outlining that this issue should not be downplayed at a national level. We will also request more information on how the 95 per cent coverage was calculated and stress that Internet service be deemed an essential utility.
Rural Canadians require access to grow our economies into the future. The AAMDC is working to ensure that this does not get overlooked by federal regulators.
Enquiries may be directed to:
Stephanie Betts, AAMDC