Nunavut's growing digital divide

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is currently undertaking a review of basic telecommunications. The outcome can have a profound impact on the future of telecommunications in Nunavut and NBDC is actively participating in the review. Here’s what you need to know about the review, NBDC’s work and how you can get involved.

Who is the CRTC and what’s this review?

The CRTC is a public organization that regulates broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.  This review will “examine which telecommunications services Canadians require to participate meaningfully in the digital economy and the Commission’s role in ensuring the availability of affordable basic telecommunications services to all Canadians.” You can find out more about the review in the notice of consultation.

NBDC’s position in a nutshell

Broadband should be part of the basic service objective, supported by long-term funding for an open access backbone transport network that combines fibre and high throughput satellite and supports delivery of mobile and fixed services. By focusing the funding on backbone transport, everyone can benefit: residents, businesses, hamlets, Inuit organizations, non-profits, as well as government. Recognizing that there are other barriers to broadband adoption and use in Nunavut, NBDC also advocates for additional funds for:

  • low income households
  • schools, public libraries and other community anchor institutions
  • digital literacy initiatives

Want to read more? Get the full NBDC submission.

How to get involved?

In the fall the CRTC will launch the second phase of the review, asking Canadians what services they need to fully participate in the digital economy – today and in the future. It is important to send a clear message to the CRTC that Nunavut needs better broadband. When this second phase begins, NBDC will organize a campaign to gather testimony from Nunavummiut and we’ll want to hear from you.

What is the Basic Service Objective (BSO)?

The BSO was established in 1999 and defines a set of services that must be available to all Canadians. The delivery of the BSO in high cost service areas is subsidized by a national fund that all large telecommunication service providers pay into. The current BSO definition only includes telephone service, not broadband. Expanding the definition of the BSO to include broadband is one of the main questions under review.

How has broadband been funded in the North?

While well-intentioned, the current approach of relying on market forces and targeted government programs for broadband deployment has failed Nunavut and other rural and remote communities in Canada. Look at the growing gap between Nunavut and Canada:

Download speed over time

Monthly data usage over time