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CRTC declares broadband internet a basic service

The Ottawa-based Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has issued a declaration stating that broadband access internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service in Canada. The CRTC has set as its target for basic service a download speed of 50 megabits per second and an upload speed of 10 megabits per second, with an option for unlimited data usage. In addition, high-speed mobile internet access is to be available along major Canadian roads.

The commission also announced the establishment of a fund that will provide up to $750 million in investment over five years to bring broadband internet access to under-served areas. Applicants will be able to submit funding proposals in order to build or upgrade infrastructure for fixed or mobile broadband internet access services.

Internet service providers will also be required to provide their contracts to customers in clear and plain language within six months, and to provide online tools to allow customers to manage their data usage. Wireless service providers will be required to offer and publicize mobile service packages that meet the needs of Canadians with disabilities, also within six months.

"Access to broadband Internet service is vital and a basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman and CEO of the CRTC. "Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country, whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary, everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services. We are doing our part to bring broadband services to rural and remote communities. High quality and reliable digital connectivity is essential for the quality of life of Canadians and Canada's economic prosperity."

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