CRTC rebates, leave Newfoundland out

James McLeod
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A wide-ranging decision by Canada’s telecom regulator will see millions go into the pockets of city dwellers, and millions more going to broadband access for rural areas.

But not in Newfoundland and Labrador, and not in the rest of Atlantic Canada.

The money for the refunds and upgrades comes from a series of “deferral accounts” created starting in 2002 as part of a complex regulatory scheme designed to foster competition among telecom companies in Canada.

Basically, instead of lowering fees to consumers, the dominant player was required to maintain fees at a specific rate. Instead of just pocketing the extra profits, the company — Aliant, in the case of Atlantic Canada — was required to put the excess money into the deferral account.

“It was never substantial in Atlantic Canada the way the formula worked out, and over the last few years there are certain other minor initiatives the commission undertook with deferral account funds,” said John Traversy, executive director of telecommunications for the Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The CRTC is abandoning the strategy, so the $700 million sitting in accounts will be put into rebates and network upgrades.

For Newfoundlanders and Lab-radorians without access to broadband Internet services, the best hope is competition, Traversy said Thrusday.

However, consumers may get a bit of help from the provincial government.

Rural Development Minister Shawn Skinner said broadband is available to about 80 per cent of people in the province, but through the government broadband initiative, that percentage could climb into the low 90s.

Skinner said the government is working with private telecom companies to have fast Internet service at all government buildings in the province.

The spinoff benefit of this, is that the government can subsidize bringing a broadband cable to a small community, and then the residents there can have access to the faster service.

“We would like to bring Internet services to that (community), and there’s also a hundred, or a thousand people living in that community, and we’d like them have access to that Internet,” Skinner said.

“So we’ll help pay some of the cost to lay that fibre — that high-speed Internet cable — into Community A, because we’re going to benefit as a government.”

Organizations: CRTC, Aliant, Newfoundlanders and Lab

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada.The Canada.Basically

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Recent comments

  • John Austin
    September 08, 2010 - 10:56

    How far (line-of-sight) are you from a community with broadband access ? There are a number of options that can carry high-speed access by radio on a line-of-sight path. You need to have access at one end of this solution, say a friend's house or a business. Look at The web site has a lot of information about this. Note the example provides up to 5 miles range for $400. There are other vendors with different equipment with more range (say 40 miles). The world record is several hundred miles but you need two suitably placed mountaintops for that. For interests sake Google "pringles can antenna".

  • Morley
    September 04, 2010 - 07:54

    Broadband covers several possibilities; fibre optic cable, wireless, satellite, ADSL over phone wires. Running underground fibre optic cable long distance through solid rock would be expensive. Wireless requires a microwave tower within a couple of miles. Upgrading phone wires to handle ADSL has less costs, but there is additional upgrade costs. Satellite coverage could serve all of the island. Of course you have to buy a satellite dish but it may be a competitive option going forward.

    • John Austin
      September 08, 2010 - 11:05

      ADSL requires a twisted pair (subscriber loop) to the telco equipment. Speed drops off with distance and 18,000 feet used to be the practical limit. Satellite coverage is almost unusable due to network latency (round-trip-time) as datagrams travel 40,000 km up to the geostationary satellite and 40,000 km back down to the ISP. A simple response also has to follow the same path. This means 160,000km at the speed of light (300,000km/sec). So the fastest response time is over one half second. This is why satellite links are not used for long distance phone calls any more. Satellite service was used in Greenland until the Greenland Connect submarine cable was installed last year. It was the only choice at the time.

  • Eugene from Town
    September 04, 2010 - 06:19

    Careful Ev, some union leader suggested his members were being treated like 2nd class citizens and is the subject of a defamation suit. Suggesting that Danny et al are treating you like 3rd class citizens might get you sequestered to the stock.

  • Sarah
    September 03, 2010 - 14:28

    EV - I'm sorry to hear that and want you to know that, regardless of how the government treats you, we are tremendously grateful for all that you do.

  • Ev
    September 03, 2010 - 10:03

    I live in a farming area with not many houses, which are far apart, so I guess we'll never get broadband, even though you need it for business. We can't even get a good road. We produce food for people but we are treated like third class citizens.

  • wally
    September 03, 2010 - 09:27

    For years now most residents of Bell Island have had high speed internet access. Only the communities of Lance Cove, Bickfordville and Freshwater on the island's west end are still stuck with modem dial-up which is virtually useless at best and often nonexistent during rainy weather. Since there is no government site in the area I guess the residents there will have to do without. Talk about third world! If the service was provided I'd bet every household with a computer would sign on.