CRTC Blog #2 – Accessibility groups to Telus

Today was my first full day attending the CRTC public hearing. The morning started off with a conversation by Deaf Wireless Canada. A committee of concerned Canadian deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind wireless consumers that want fairness, equality and standard advertised packages. They raised many interesting points about access to service for deaf people. Large amounts of bandwidth are needed for the services they use because they largely consist of video sharing. This makes total sense… unfortunately in most areas they are forced to purchase bundled packages which include voice that many people in the deaf community do not use.

Next, Media Access Canada, a not for profit organization working towards a system of fully accessible broadcast content. What was most interesting about this conversation is how reliant the disabled community has become to technology. It was great to hear what apps and programs are available to better assist them throughout their day to day actions. However, without access to the necessary broadband they are unable to use the technology they have become reliant on.

Next, the BC Broadband, a group of telecommunications service providers, equipment suppliers and infrastructure constructors committed to building and delivering advanced networking services and infrastructure to all regions of BC took to the panel. Similar discussion to finding the solution for providing connectivity However, one interesting point was that they think that 5Mbps is all that is needed to use the full potential of the Internet. I disagree – our minimum service is 25Mbps followed by 50Mbps and 100Mbps. We want our customers to have access to everything the internet has to offer. Don’t you think all Canadian’s deserve that?

Next, Thetis Island Resident’s Association and Susan Lowell took to the panel. Both parties were concerned with the lack of service available in their area. They both made interesting points about the fact that they should not be penalized just based on where they are located. We feel their concern as many regions in Alberta are very similar. We are dedicated to connecting rural Albertans to our network. However, many farms and ranches will remain underserved because of the large capital needed to connect them to our network. Hopefully the CRTC comes up with a plan to get everyone connected to the ultimate broadband infrastructure, which we know at Axia, is fibre.

Right before the lunch break CRTC Chair, Jean-Pierre Blais made a forceful statement, calling on governments as well as the telecom industry itself to contribute to the development of a “coherent national broadband strategy.” Blais was very disappointed that Internet access and affordability got little attention in the country’s fall election. The past week of presentations made it clear that broadband is “vital” to Canadians.

“Unless you disagree with this conclusion, let us not spend more hearing time on this self-evident truth. We have other, more important things to focus on,” Blais said. So the question is, “does Canada currently have a national broadband strategy?”

This is excellent news for Canadians. However, we just need to now figure out what technology this will be and the policies behind it. Many points to which Axia will address at our presentation on Wednesday.

Following the statement, Telus presented to the panel. It was pretty uncomfortable to watch. Over ten men in suits took to the panel and were grilled by the commission. One of their main points was that the standard for service should be 5up/1down. We believe this level of service is not taking into account how fast technology is progressing and the added needs of people using the web. Streaming services alone has become one of the most popular uses of the Internet and requires high bandwidth. We won’t knock Telus down… It’s not our style but I encourage you to head over to Twitter and read the tweets under the hashtag #TalkBroadband – some are quite interesting.

Well folks that’s all for today. More tomorrow.

Weston

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