WHEREAS the owners of broadband infastructure have invested significant sums of money in developing their distribution networks; and
WHEREAS the owners of broadband distribution networks set their user fees to facilitate future investment in expanded networks; and
WHEREAS the owners of broadband distribution networks allow for third party internet service providers to utilize their networks for a fee; and
WHEREAS Telecom Order CRTC 2019-288 set final rates for wholesale high-speed access that owners of broadband distribution networks can charge third party internet service providers for aggregated wholesale high speed access services; and
WHEREAS the position taken by the CRTC related to wholesale internet pricing has the potential to significantly reduce the level of investment in internet infrastructure in small and rural communities in Canada; and
WHEREAS in September 2019 the Federal Court of Appeal issued a temporary stay of Telecom Order CRTC 2019-288; and
WHEREAS the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2020-131 which reviews the approach to rate setting for wholesale telecommunications services;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) urge the Government of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reconsider its position on wholesale internet pricing; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that RMA request the Government of Canada and CRTC to create a financial framework where communication and internet fee structures include funds for mandatory investment of network expansion into currently unserved areas of Canada by all telecom and internet service providers.
The wholesale pricing model introduced in August 2019 has the potential of increasing competition and lowering internet pricing for urban areas in Canada where there are multiple providers and good existing high-speed internet infrastructure. However, in rural areas where there are often only a few telecom providers or no service at all, the pricing model discourages investment in these rural areas. When a large telecom provider decides to invest in a rural area, the period to recoup the investment is very long, if ever. If the telecoms are forced to provide low cost access to these assets to their competitors, it discourages the investment. With the large number of additional towers needed to move from 4G to 5G networks, this Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision will likely result in rural areas never receiving upgrades, and areas currently unserved will remain unserved. With the advancements in artificial intelligence and our ever-increasing reliance on the internet to provide basic services to our residents, the need for a robust Canada wide network coverage including the most remote rural areas is a national problem. Having higher wholesale rates and forcing the network operators to reinvest the additional money collected into poorly covered or unserved areas would better serve Canada’s collective interests.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.