(Adds details on decision, background)
GATINEAU, Quebec Dec 21 Broadband internet access will be considered a basic service in Canada, the country’s telecom regulator said on Wednesday, setting a higher target for download speeds and creating a fund that could see providers paying more to help meet those goals.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it was establishing a new fund that providers will pay into that will invest C$750 million ($560 million) over five years to build or upgrade broadband infrastructure with a focus on improving access in underserved areas.
Telecom companies with revenues of C$10 million or more already contribute a percentage of their profits to subsidize basic phone services. Companies currently pay about 0.5 percent of their telecom revenue.
Internet revenues, which are currently excluded, will now be included in the calculation of what companies have to pay for the new fund, potentially chipping away at an increasingly profitable area for providers.
With consumers moving to streaming services such as Netflix Inc, offering internet access has become more lucrative for Canadian companies than offering television services.
Canadian telecom and cable companies made C$9.81 billion in revenue from the supply of internet connections in 2015, outstripping the C$8.92 billion companies made from cable, satellite and internet-enabled television subscriptions, the CRTC said in October.
The CRTC also set a download speed target of 50 megabits per second, well above its previous target of 5 megabits, and recommended providers offer an unlimited data option for fixed broadband. The regulator did not set a price cap.
In 2015, about 82 percent of Canadians had access to internet at those speeds.
Providers that are not able to meet those targets will be able to apply for financing from the new fund, which will be run at arms’ length from the CRTC. Only those applying for funding will be obliged to meet the targets.
Applicants will be required to secure supplementary funding from the regional or federal government and put their own investment into the proposed project.
In its budget earlier this year, the Canadian government set aside up to C$500 million over five years for improving broadband service in rural and remote communities.
($1 = $1.34 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Alan Crosby)
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(Reuters) The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday advanced a proposal to ensure the privacy of broadband Internet users by barring providers from collecting user data without consent.
The proposed regulation from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler won initial approval with a 3-2 vote to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent, disclose data collection, protect personal information and report breaches but would not bar any data collection practices.
It s the consumers information and the consumer should have the right to determine how it s used, Wheeler said. Broadband providers currently collect consumer data without consent and some use that data for targeted advertising, which has drawn criticism from privacy advocates. Wheeler s proposal does not prohibit Internet providers from using or sharing customer data for any purpose. The FCC would not extend the broadband provider privacy rules to sites such as Twitter, Google or Facebook, drawing the ire of providers.
Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said Thursday there is no good reason to single out broadband providers for regulations, while not regulating websites. The plan favors one set of corporate interests over another, he said. The FCC has authority to set privacy rules after it reclassified broadband providers last year as part of new net neutrality regulations.
A federal appeals court has not ruled on a challenge to that decision. A final vote on new regulations will follow a public comment period during which the FCC is asking for possible additional or alternative paths to achieve pro-consumer, pro-privacy goals. Under the rules providers would need to tell consumers what information is being collected, how it is being used and when it will be shared.
They would also be required protect data under a data security standard. Consumers would need to be notified of breaches of their data no later than 10 days after it was discovered. Ratings agency Moody s Investors Services said earlier the proposal to impose privacy restrictions on broadband providers such as Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp is credit negative.
Advocacy group Free Press praised the FCC for moving ahead and said the commission must consider other issues in setting rules including pay-for-privacy, deep-packet inspection, upselling services, competition and data security.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association urged the FCC to adopt a technology neutral approach by treating companies with access to similar user information the same.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alan Crosby)
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Superfast Broadband has arrived in Crosby and is being rolled out across your area.
Using the internet delivers great benefits to everyone; getting better deals, saving money, gaining new skills and qualifications, finding a better job as well as access to new services and solutions for business. Wondering why faster, better broadband would be good for you your family or your business? If you want to find out how to benefit come to The Community Centre, Crosscanonby.
On 21st January at 7.00pm.