CRTC: Canadians Using, Demanding More Broadband

The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunication Commission
(CRTC) says the demand for more and faster access to the internet among
Canadians has been increasing with mobile devices.

In 2016, 3 million more Canadians subscribed to mobilebroadband services compared to the year 2015. This is a 13.3% increase. In2016, the average monthly data consumption on wireless devices went up to 1.2gigabytes. Compared to 2015, this is a 25% increase. Based on this survey, it is estimated that more than25% of the monthly mobile data subscribers involved chose to receive 5 gigabytes of data in the
plans they subscribed for.

The young demographic (18-34) is increasingly using theirwireless devices for entertainment. According to the CRTC, in 2016, 41 percentof this demographic accessed online TV via their smartphones. Only 11 percentof Canadians between the ages of 50 and 64 and 4 percent aged 65 and older didthe same. The same proportion was also observed in accessing social medianetworks, emails and surfing in general.

The CRTC also noted that Canadians were increasing their internetspeed connections and data usage at home. In 2016, there was a 23.4 percentsurge in the monthly download and upload speeds users subscribed to. In the past fiveyears, monthly data consumption has been increasing by 40 percent on average,each year. The CRTC noted that in early 2016, 26 percent of broadbandsubscribers had subscribed to 50 Mbps of download speed compared to five yearsearlier where only 3.6 percent had chosen this speed option.

By end of 2017, following the declaration by the Canadiangovernment terming high-speed internet as an essential for quality of life, only11 percent of Canadian internet users were accessing 50 Mbps download speedsand 10 Mbps upload speeds. In response to this low number, critics argue that the minimum speeds set by the CRTC are beyond thereach of many in terms of cost. A report recently released backs these findingsby showing a whopping 84 percent of Canadians live in neighborhoods and towns wherethese speeds are available but 73 percent choose not to subscribe to them.

Katy Anderson, a digital rights advocate for OpenMedia voicedher concerns in an interview. Although almost a year had passed since the internetdeclaration by the Canadian federal government, the dream for the majority ofCanadians to access 50Mbps of download and 10 Mbps upload speeds is still farfrom becoming a reality- she said. Although cord-cutting is continually on therise in the country and data usage is escalating among all demographics, thetelecommunications market, however, has not progressed to keep up with thechanges. Compared to other developed countries, Canada has much higher broadbandprices as well as a high number of rules and policies on data use by ISPs.

In December 2016, the federal government declared high-speedbroadband as an essential for quality of life. $750M CAD was set aside tobe distributed by the federal and provincial governments to data companies and ISPs such as Acanac facilitate the accomplishmentof this goal. Barely one year later: the CRTS reports the desired speeds have been made available to 84percent of the population but now the cost is the major issue. A survey conducted in 2015 revealed the averagehousehold expenditure for communications service is $218.42 CAD. In 2016 thisincreased by 1.7 percent.

Critics argue that the government needs to introducefriendlier legislation to allow foreign players to enter the data market inCanada for the prices to drop to affordable levels. The best route toaffordable data is to rely on the market forces to cause prices to drop andthat involves eliminating policies that deter new investors – foreign or

Image result for Acanac
domestic – from infiltrating the data industry.

The government also needs to expand the funding for theinternet initiative to benefit small and mid-sized ISPs to enable them mitigatetheir data costs through advanced equipment and technology.

Jean Pierre Blais,the CRTC chair also seemed to share the same sentiments. Addressing a newsconference in Gatineau, Quebec he stated increased competition and more capitalinvestment by the government will prevent excessive data costs from tricklingdown to the consumers. The increased funding will also assist small data
providers to grow and build better infrastructure. The CRTC is currently working to
ensure consumers receive better tools for data management from ISPs as well as
better information on mobile applications and how they consume data.

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