Internet Speed Targets Pose Callenge in Canada’s North

Northern Canada’s largest telecommunications carrier says it’s not sure how or when it can meet new internet speed targets, especially in remote northern communities.

All Canadians should have access to broadband internet speeds of at one megabit per second for uploads, and five megabits per second for downloads, the CRTC stated in a decision this week. (Associated Press) The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, announced this week that it wants all Canadians to have access to faster broadband internet speeds in the next few years.

The national telecommunications regulator is recommending that internet service providers like Northwestel meet the new speed targets by 2015.

For Northwestel, which offers phone and internet services across Canada’s North, meeting those targets would require doubling the top upload speed it currently has available.

“At this point, bringing speeds up would require us to investigate further on how we’d be able to do that,” Northwestel spokesperson Sunny Patch told CBC News.

Under the CRTC’s new targets, all Canadians should have access to broadband internet speeds of at one megabit per second for uploads and five megabits per second for downloads.

Those speeds must be actual speeds rather than advertised speeds, the regulator added.

Current rates ‘quite slow,’ says consultant

A megabit is an eighth of a megabyte. A 3½-minute song on iTunes is about 7.5 megabytes, while Netflix users would need a download speed of about 4.7 megabits per second to stream movies in high definition.

“Our current upload rates are quite slow. It’ll definitely bring us more in line with what’s going on in other parts of Canada and the world,” said Andrew Robulack, a communications consultant in Whitehorse.

Patch said bringing speeds up to the national standards would require upgrades in some rural northern communities.

The CRTC says it anticipates the speed targets can be reached through a combination of private investments, government funding and public-private partnerships. It says it will monitor the industry’s progress.

Robulack warned that unless governments step in to help, Northwestel customers can expect to pay more for faster internet service.

“I don’t see how Northwestel can pull it off affordably without some public money being spent there,” he said.

“Will they raise rates? Well, I think history shows us that prices will definitely go up to respond to this.”

Robulack said he welcomes the CRTC’s new standards, but added that quality of service and high costs are a problem across the North.

CBC News

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