Advocacy group ACORN rallied in Toronto on Tuesday to demand that Rogers, Bell and Telus be banned from participating in ConnectTO.
ConnectTO is a municipal broadband program that aims to expand access to affordable high-speed internet access across Toronto.
Members of the Toronto chapter of the advocacy group rallied at City Hall to demand that ConnectTO should be owned and controlled by the community and not big telecom companies. They state that the city should create an independent internet service provider.
The group argues that large telecoms should be banned from lobbying or being on the executive board for the project. A week after ConnectTO was approved, it was revealed that Bell registered to lobby the city on the plan.
ACORN is also demanding that there should be $10 internet for low and moderate-income residents, including seniors, people with disabilities and single parents. It notes that there should be a permanent affordable program in place as opposed to one that only lasts for a few years.
The group outlines that the minimum threshold on speed should be set to 50Mbps for download and 10Mbps for upload. Further, ACORN states that affordable devices and modems should be provided by the city to low-income residents.
Members also rallied to demand that data collected through ConnectTO should not be sold or shared with private companies.
Toronto city council approved the plan for ConnectTO in February and stated that the program will become a vital tool in ensuring equitable access to resources, platforms and services.
ConnectTO is going to be deployed in phases, with testing to begin in the areas of Jane and Finch, Golden Mile, and Malvern later this year. The second phase of the program will see the network launched city-wide in early 2022.
The project also aims to update existing city plans to ensure internet connectivity, such as public Wi-Fi plans.
Image credit: @TorontoACORN