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QUESTION PERIOD — Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Access to High-Speed Broadband Networks

February 8, 2022

Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

As you know, I live just outside of Fergus, Ontario, and I, along with many of my neighbours, do not have adequate broadband internet access. This is unfortunately the case in most rural, remote and Northern communities.

The government is currently preparing for the next spectrum auction. These airwaves are important. They are prime real estate for both 5G and rural wireless internet access. While the government’s existing policies are meant to bolster urban competition, they do not. These policies let some companies buy spectrum cheaply, hold on to unused airwaves and flip them years later for millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.

The good news is that the government has a way to advance rural connectivity right now, namely with a “use it or lose it” spectrum policy. In fact, it is included in the mandate letter of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Honourable colleagues, it is evident that there is enough spectrum for several carriers in urban and rural markets; however, policy changes must be made to ensure carriers are not buying these airwaves just to hold on to them.

Senator Gold, will the government implement caps on the number of airwaves any one carrier can buy in addition to the “use it or lose it” policy in the upcoming auction to ensure that carriers are required to use them to connect rural Canadians?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for raising this important issue. It is important for so many people in rural areas.

I have made inquiries of the government regarding this question, but I have not yet received an answer. As soon as I do, I will report to the chamber in a timely fashion.

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