CRTC broadband Internet ruling still leaves room for high prices

December 23, 2016
Article Source
Toronto Star

The Canadian telecom regulator's declaration Wednesday that high-speed Internet is a basic service entitlement like a home phone continues to draw applause, but some observers say the underling problem remains — Canadians still pay some of the highest Internet prices in the developed world.

"This does not address affordability; it addresses access," Stuart Jack, head of the telecom practice at Nordicity Group Ltd., said of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s announcement.

The consulting firm was commissioned by the CRTC to prepare a 2016 international comparison on home telephone and wireless Internet prices that was published in August.

The Nordicity report found broadband Internet prices in Canada in the middle of the pack of a sub-group of eight advanced countries when looking at lower and mid-tier performance.

But Canada had the second-most expensive prices — behind only the U.S. — for the top download speeds that the CRTC said should be available to residents in all areas of the country.

In remote communities such as the Matawa First Nations in northwestern Ontario, residents are paying far more. Matawa economic development manager Jason Rasevych said residents are paying as much as $200 per month for satellite dishes to access the web because broadband service is so poor.

He said the only way the CRTC's ruling could promote affordability is if it puts pressure on the federal government to partner with Ontario to bring advanced fibre networks to the community. Jack cited a lack of competition as a reason for comparatively high-cost Internet services, along with low population density and expansive geography.

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