The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has opened a consultation to improve its Broadband Fund focused on high speed internet connectivity for rural, remote and Indigenous communities. The regulator is proposing to make the application process faster and easier and also wants to create a new funding stream for Indigenous communities and to fund projects that would increase the reliability of rural and remote networks. Comments on the consultation are accepted until 21 July 2023.
The CRTC’s Broadband Fund will provide up to CAD750 million (USD548 million) over five years to support high speed fixed/mobile internet connectivity projects across Canada. To date, CAD226.5 million has been allocated for projects in over 200 communities under the scheme which operates alongside various other Federal and Provincial government broadband funding programmes.
Separately, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, has asked the CRTC to investigate mobile international roaming fees after Bell and Telus both raised their roaming rates for the US and other countries. The Minister called the price hikes ‘part of a concerning trend to charge more for existing services broadly at a time when inflationary pressures are making it difficult for Canadians to pay their bills.’ Although he acknowledged that the CRTC’s consumer code does not prohibit cellcos from raising international roaming rates, Champagne noted the code does include consumer protection provisions such as requirements for cellcos to notify users when roaming in another country and suspend charges until gaining user consent once roaming fees reach CAD100.