Government of Canada undertakes measures to advance telecommunication services in Canada

TORONTO, June 5, 2017 /CNW/ - When it comes to telecommunications, Canadian consumers deserve the best. The Government of Canada will encourage the advancement of telecommunication services by focusing on the three things that matter most to Canadian families and businesses: high-quality networks, broad-reaching coverage and affordable prices.

At a time when middle-class Canadians are concerned about the rising cost of these services, the Government will encourage more private sector competition and investment in services that have become essential in a digital economy.

That was the message delivered by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, at the Canadian Telecom Summit. The summit is an annual gathering of business leaders and policy-makers that represent the country's telecommunications, broadcasting and information technology industries.

The Innovation and Skills Plan is a multi-year strategy that will create more well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it. This plan will also ensure that Canadians develop the skills for the jobs of the future. Under this plan, the Government is working with industry to encourage low-cost Internet services.

The Government is also encouraging providers to offer all Canadians:

  • More options at better price points: The Government is directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which regulates the industry, to reconsider a recent decision to exclude Wi-Fi-based service providers from access to roaming services. This action could potentially open the door to companies that use innovative solutions to provide Canadians with more affordable wireless service options.
  • Better coverage: The Government is releasing its decision on a streamlined licensing framework to support the deployment of next-generation satellites. This action will allow more satellite-based providers to enter the market and extend high-speed Internet services to Canadians in rural and remote communities across the country.
  • Faster networks: The Government is launching a public consultation on the release of spectrum to support the deployment of 5th generation (5G) wireless networks. 5G is an emerging technology that has the potential to meet the explosion in consumer and industrial demand for faster and higher-capacity mobile networks.

Quote

"The prosperity of Canadians depends on their access to affordable Internet and wireless services. These services are no longer luxuries. They are basic tools for all Canadians regardless of where they live. They need these services to do their jobs, conduct business, learn new skills and build communities. Our government is prepared to work with this country's telecom providers to ensure that Canadians have access to the services that allow them to compete in a global and digital economy. Together, we can ensure that Canada remains a global leader in the development and adoption of new telecom technologies."
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Canada's networks rank second among G7 countries for average wireless connection speeds.
  • 98 percent of Canadians have access to the latest wireless technologies.
  • Canadian consumers pay more for basic cellphone service than consumers in the U.S. and almost twice as much as consumers in the U.K.

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Follow Minister Bains on Twitter: @MinisterISED

Backgrounder
Making Cellphone Service More Affordable through Wi-Fi First Networks

The Government of Canada is taking action in favour of affordable cellphone service for Canadians, who pay some of world's highest prices, especially for low-usage plans.

The Government is directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which regulates the industry, to reconsider a decision that has effectively prevented certain low-cost plans from being offered to Canadian consumers.

These discount plans, offered by Wi-Fi-based service providers, primarily route phone calls, texts and data through Wi-Fi networks. They depend far less on commercial wireless networks, which are only used if Wi-Fi is not available. Typically, customers only roam on another carrier's network when they are between Wi-Fi connections.

On March 1, 2017, the CRTC issued a decision that excludes Wi-Fi-based providers from access to regulated roaming on commercial wireless networks owned by large carriers. The CRTC's decision defined the terms and conditions under which smaller providers could roam on networks owned by larger carriers. Under CRTC rules, all wireless service providers are required to operate on a primary network, also known as a "home network," so that they do not rely completely on roaming. The CRTC decision ruled that Wi-Fi networks cannot be considered "home networks." The result is that Wi-Fi-based service providers do not have access to regulated roaming rates, effectively preventing their development.

In asking the CRTC to review its decision, the Government directs the regulator to explore how a Wi-Fi first model could lead to more affordable plans for Canadians. The Government is also asking the CRTC to consider any potentially negative impacts on investment in wireless infrastructure and ways to mitigate those impacts.

The CRTC must complete its review by March 31, 2018. 

Backgrounder
Improving High-Speed Internet Access to Rural and Northern Communities through Updates to Licensing Framework for Satellite-based Broadband Providers

The Government of Canada has made updates to its satellite licensing framework to support next-generation satellites. These non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems are composed of smaller satellites that travel closer to Earth than traditional, larger satellites.

In particular, a type of NGSO satellite, known as low earth-orbit satellite, has the potential to deliver very high-speed Internet to Canadians living in remote and northern communities.

As the federal department responsible for regulating telecommunications satellites, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is modernizing its licensing rules to ensure that satellite-based systems will provide complete broadband service coverage throughout the entire country. In addition, ISED is implementing changes that streamline the licensing process, resulting in more satellite systems being approved faster before they enter the market.

NGSO systems are also a new platform for other technologies and services supporting resource sectors and fields such as meteorology, agriculture, climate change analysis and space research.

Last June, ISED suspended applications for licensing from commercial NGSO systems while a review and consultation of the process were under way.  On June 26, 2017, ISED will once again begin accepting applications. Lifting this moratorium will allow more satellite-based providers to enter the market and extend high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities across the country.

Backgrounder
Public Consultation on 5G for Faster Mobile Networks

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is launching a public consultation on releasing large amounts of spectrum to support the development and deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks. 5G is an emerging technology that has the potential to meet the explosion in consumer and industrial demand for faster and high-capacity mobile networks.

This public consultation marks the first step in a process that, by 2020, aims to make more wireless spectrum available for 5G mobile networks. Other countries, such as the U.S., are also in the process of making more spectrum available for the same purpose.

All wireless communications require spectrum. These radio waves are responsible for everything from TV and radio broadcasting to wireless data and mobile phone service. Wireless spectrum is a finite public resource that is regulated by the federal government.

The demand for more spectrum is being driven by the massive number of connected devices and data-intensive software applications that are expected to accompany the adoption of 5G networks. Indeed, the merger of advanced machinery with networked sensors and software—known as the Internet of Things—will require consumers and businesses to have access to large amounts of spectrum in higher frequency bands that are currently not being used for mobile services.

The public consultation will focus on releasing millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28 GHz, 37–40 GHz and 64–71 GHz frequency bands. This high-frequency spectrum will enable providers to increase the capacity of their networks to meet the higher traffic demands of 5G networks. That means Canadians will have access to faster, more reliable wireless networks, regardless of the traffic load.  

 

SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

For further information: Pauline Tam, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, 343-291-2500; Media Relations, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 343-291-1777, ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/home

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