Canada’s public authority in charge of regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications announced yesterday that access to high-speed internet shall be considered a basic, essential service.

Until now, the CRTC had only considered local landline telephone service essential.

“The future of our economy, our prosperity and our society — indeed, the future of every citizen — requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais.

The declaration is not merely symbolic.

high-speed internet

Internet service providers will be challenged by the CRTC to offer download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps to all Canadian customers.

Almost 20 per cent of Canadian households are currently below that threshold.

A $750 million fund financed by Canada’s internet service providers will be set up to reach these targets, which will be primarily used to build the infrastructure needed to extend high-speed service to areas where it is not currently available.

This is in addition to $500 million committed by the federal government to ensure 300 rural and remote communities have access to high-speed internet by 2021.

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