Ottawa

Rural eastern Ontario communities welcome CRTC internet ruling

Officials in rural eastern Ontario say they're thrilled with the CRTC's decision that broadband internet is a basic telecommunications service.

CRTC declared Wednesday that broadband internet is a basic telecommunications service

On Wednesday, the CRTC ordered the country's internet providers to begin working toward boosting internet service and speeds in rural and isolated areas. (CBC)

Officials in rural eastern Ontario say they're thrilled with the CRTC's decision that broadband internet is a basic telecommunications service.

Communities near Ottawa have long been pushing for faster and more reliable broadband internet service.

On Wednesday, the national regulator ordered the country's internet providers to begin working toward boosting internet service and speeds in rural and isolated areas.

Until now, local landline telephone service was the only service deemed "basic" or essential by the CRTC.

"I think it's the correct decision by the CRTC," said Peter Emon, chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus, which represents dozens of municipalities in the region.

"You have to ensure that people have equal access in … rural eastern Ontario to the internet so that they can compete and function at the same level as our urban neighbours."

Eastern Ontario communities want better broadband coverage

Peter Emon is the chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus. (Stu Mills/CBC)

The caucus has spent the last 15 months working on an application to the provincial and federal government for about $60 million in funding to increase broadband, cellphone and emergency services coverage in the area, Emon said.

He hopes the CRTC's ruling will bolster their argument.

"We will be using this as a springboard to make the application," said Emon.

After Wednesday's ruling, the chair of the CRTC said the future of Canada's economy, prosperity and society depends on connecting all Canadians to the internet.

CRTC ruling a win for low-income urban areas

That's not just a win for rural communities, it's also cause for celebration in low-income urban areas, according to Stéphane Giguère, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing.

He said the CRTC's announcement is "a recognition that internet is about communication, education and employment."

On the same day as the ruling, Ottawa Community Housing announced it's partnering with National Capital Freenet to provide all 31,000 of its tenants with a $25-per-month unlimited internet plan.

"No matter where you live, where you grow, it's important that you have access to the tools that will make you successful in life," said Giguère.

The new internet plan is expected to launch Jan. 3.

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