Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) began a three-week hearing to examine the basic telecommunications services that Canadians need to participate in the digital economy.

The hearing, which is taking place in the National Capital Region, is looking at whether access to high-speed Internet services should be considered a right for people living in Canada and what the commission’s role is in ensuring the availability of affordable basic telecommunications services across the country.

Currently, basic telecommunications services in Canada include:
  • individual line local touch-tone service;
  • a capability to connect to the Internet via low-speed data transmission at local rates;
  • access to the long distance network, operator/directory assistance services, enhanced calling features and privacy protection features, emergency services, voice message relay service; and
  • a printed copy of the current local telephone directory upon request.

As the discussions have been progressing, more than 25 000 comments were received during the first phase of the consultation and more than 30 000 Canadians filled out the questionnaire during the second phase.

People living in Canada can once again provide their opinions on these issues by participating throughout the hearing in an online discussion forum that will be open until 8pm EST on April 28.

Specific issues raised in the online forum include what Canadians need from the telecommunications system, as well as how Canadians’ basic telecommunications needs can be met. Canadians can also comment in real-time on issues raised throughout the hearing.

People living in Canada can watch the hearing online on the Cable Public Affairs Channel’s website or listen to the audio feed on the CRTC’s website .

The hearing is the third phase of Let’s #TalkBroadband Internet, the CRTC’s consultation on basic telecommunications services, which began in April 2015.