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High-speed Internet not a right: CRTC

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GATINEAU, Que.—The country’s telecom regulator says there are no guarantees it will enforce minimum Internet speeds and service levels across Canada—even if it comes up with new target levels.

The chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says it will be up to participants in hearings being held in Gatineau to demonstrate why the regulator should act.

Jean-Pierre Blais said it’s important for proponents of regulation to show why market forces are not enough to ensure the public’s need for Internet services is being met.

Blais made the comments as the regulator began a three-week examination of basic telecommunication services and whether high-speed Internet service should be declared a right.

Currently, basic telecommunications services in Canada include individual line, touch-tone phone service, the ability to connect to the Internet at low speeds, access to long distance, directory assistance services, enhanced calling features and privacy protection features, emergency services, and voice mail.

Blais said if the definition of basic telecom services is to change, it has to be based on facts.

“The CRTC must make informed decisions, based on solid evidence while taking into account the real and reasonable needs of the population,” Blais said in an opening statement to the hearings.

“As it is crucial not to confuse ‘wants’ with ‘needs,’ the CRTC is asking parties to take a fact-based and objective approach to these discussions,” he stressed.

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