Better access to high speed internet will improve competitiveness and address digital divide
October 26, 2018 — Vancouver, British Columbia
Today, federal, provincial and territorial ministers for innovation and economic development agreed to making broadband a priority and to develop a long-term strategy to improve access to high-speed Internet services for all Canadians. The commitment to a strategy is the latest outcome of this intergovernmental table focused on driving growth and job creation through innovation.
Ministers recognize that access to high-speed Internet service is critical for businesses to grow and compete and for all Canadians to fully access the goods and services available in a digital economy. As outlined in a statement released today, Ministers agreed to work towards universal access to high-speed Internet and improve access to the latest mobile wireless services along major roads and where Canadians live and work.
High speed connectivity is critical to the prosperity and wellbeing of Canadians particularly with the next-generation of high-quality networks that will especially enable smart cities, connected cars and e-health for Canadians.
At the meeting, ministers were also briefed on the report from Canada’s Economic Strategy Tables. This report identifies opportunities to create the conditions for strong, long-term competitiveness that will secure Canadians’ quality of life. Ministers agreed to consider the advice of the tables in advancing their two-year work plan in ways that will help companies to scale up and to adopt new technologies.
Ministers also discussed the promotion of Indigenous economic development through partnerships among Indigenous businesses, non-Indigenous businesses and communities.
Statement by Ministers for Innovation and Economic Development on Connectivity
Ensuring universal access to high-speed Internet and mobile wireless networks is essential for long-term economic growth, innovation, and social progress for all Canadians across the country, and fundamental to success in the modern digital world.
Whether its finding information online, selling goods and services to domestic and international markets, or providing e-health or online education services, Canadian consumers, businesses, and public institutions require broadband Internet connectivity to participate fully in the digital economy.
To that end, we agree to build on existing collaboration and work together to enhance connectivity for all Canadians, along with private sector partners, municipalities, public institutions, Indigenous communities, and non-profit organizations to maximize the impact of our actions.
As we move forward and engage in this work, we will be guided by the following connectivity principles:
- Access to reliable, high quality and affordable services are necessary for Canada’s success in a digital world, to allow all Canadian businesses, households, and public institutions to realize the economic and social benefits of connectivity through the use of advanced technologies and applications
- Work towards establishing universal access of at least 50 Mbps download / 10 Mbps upload taking into context scalability and longer-term growth.
- Businesses should have access to networks that support their ability to utilize technology, compete, and contribute to the economy.
- Mobile connectivity on major highways and roads is an important need, including for safety.
- Collaboration is essential to address the scope of the challenge and maximize the effect of our actions.
- Shared objectives and priorities will lead to better outcomes.
- Gathering, having access to, and sharing reliable data can significantly improve analysis and deployment strategies, as well as enable public reporting on progress.
- Recognize the unique circumstances of Indigenous communities, especially in remote and isolated locations.
- Targeting market failures allows governments to direct support to where it is needed most.
- Coordination of regulatory and spending levers helps ensure effective implementation.
- Open access requirements can promote competition, affordability, and greater choice and should therefore be considered.
- Addressing deployment barriers can significantly reduce constructions costs of digital infrastructure.
- Ministers committed to work towards universal access to benchmark Internet speeds of 50 Megabits per second download and 10 Megabits per second upload. In 2016, these speeds were available to 41% of Canadians in rural and remote areas.
- Mobile wireless services based on 4G Long Term Evolution technology were available to 98.5% of homes, but there are more substantial gaps along unpopulated areas of major roads.
- The number of connected devices per Canadian is expected to increase from 6 in 2016 to 11 by 2021.
- 70% of teachers assign homework requiring Internet access; students with home Internet access have a 7% higher rate of graduation compared to those without.
- In December 2016, CRTC declared broadband a basic telecom service for all Canadians.
- The ministers agreed to two-year work plan when they last met, on October 13, 2017, in Vancouver. The work plan was developed to strengthen Canada’s competitive advantages and accelerate economic growth, create jobs and increase shared prosperity.