CRTC chairman looks forward to when money is ‘out of the door’ for broadband services

CRTC chairman Ian Scott said he is looking forward to the day when money is “out the door to fund projects” that would bring broadband services to Canadians.

In an interview after the Canadian Telecom Summit, Scott said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) looks at all issues with grave detail and that even “mundane” problems have an impact on every Canadian every day.

“Everything we do impacts Canadians, so all of it is equally important and I don’t like doing crystal ball predictions,” Scott said. “But if I have to pick something that I’m particularly looking forward to would be the day we start putting money out the door to fund projects that will bring broadband to Canadians that don’t have it today.”

During the summit, he announced a call for applicants to the Broadband Fund that was announced in 2016. The program’s aim is to provide $750 million over five years to communities that don’t have access to broadband services.

The first call for applications will target Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and satellite dependent communities.

“We chose to target these regions in our first call for applications because these are the parts of the country in which there is a significant need for improvement,” Scott said during the summit.

The application is due in four months, the CRTC noted.

Scott said during his speech that there are other parts of the country that require access and noted that the CRTC “won’t forget about those regions.” He added that the CRTC will put out a “comprehensive, Canada-wide call for applications later this year.”

Proposed directive acts as a lens when CRTC renders decisions

Asked whether or not Innovation, Science and Economic Minister Navdeep Bains’ proposed policy directive would be helpful to the CRTC, Scott said that “it’s not a question of helping or hindering.”

“Think of it this way, it is a lens, the key points are all in the act, no one can ask us to consider something that isn’t in the act,” Scott said.

“The government is saying ‘I want you to pay special attention to something’ so we will pay special attention and if we go ‘no this is not desirable,’ we will explain why and we will say we took into account the policy direction,” Scott added.

Bains announced the proposed directive on February 26th and once passed by the government would require the CRTC to consider “competition, affordability, consumer interest and innovation” when making decisions.

At the time, he noted that there is a 40 day consultation period, which will allow MPs and Parliamentarians to “weigh into the issue.” He also added that once the notice is posted on the Canadian Gazette, the official newspaper for the government of Canada, Canadians will have the ability to comment. This notice will be up for 30 days.

The directive was made as a result of specific decisions relating to Wi-Fi first MVNOs. Bains said that after the first decision was sent back in 2017 and a second was released in 2018 “we felt it was a right step in the right direction but more had to be done.”

“And that’s what prompted this policy directive,” he said.

Scott said that the CRTC uses directives as points the government wants the commission to look at specifically when rendering decisions.

Image credit: ParlVu (screenshot)