OTTAWA – Municipal leaders responded with concern today to recent news from Canada’s largest telecommunications companies that they intend to reduce or review the number of rural households that will receive improved broadband connectivity, following a recent CRTC decision on wholesale rates for high-speed access services.

“We are deeply disappointed by the reaction from Bell Canada and other telecommunications providers that could result in a cut to planned investments in better Internet access for rural and remote communities,” said FCM President Bill Karsten.

“It is unacceptable for carriers to pull back investments in rural and remote communities as a result of unrelated regulatory decisions intended to improve affordability and competition.”

Two million Canadians still cannot access a reliable Internet connection, especially those living in rural, remote, and northern communities. For those communities, better Internet access is not a luxury. Better connectivity is crucial to ensure families can access quality health care and students can access modern education. High-speed Internet access means that businesses can compete, grow, and hire locally. It means that entire communities can enjoy a higher quality of life.

“When the reaction to the CRTC decision is to reduce by hundreds of thousands the number of target households serviced by improved broadband access, it is a failure to recognize the reality of families, businesses and communities in rural Canada,” said Ray Orb, Chair of FCM’s Rural Forum. 

“FCM welcomed Canada’s national broadband strategy and recent increases in federal investments in broadband access. Canadians expect telecommunications carriers to prioritize delivering high speed service in rural Canada, alongside these federal programs.”

FCM has reached out to federal officials to see what can be done to ensure rural, remote, and northern Canadian communities continue to see progress in expanding broadband access across the country. Canada’s municipal leaders are calling on Canada’s telecommunications giants to adopt the same proactive approach to delivering reliable Internet to all Canadians. 

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