2018 Canadian Telecom Summit


Speaking Points

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Toronto, Ontario
June 6, 2018

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Michael [Michael Sone, President, NBI/Michael Sone Associates Inc. and Conference Co-Chair], for the kind introduction.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabeg and Haudenosaunee people.

It’s my great pleasure to join you all at the 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit.

Last year at this summit, I shared with you my vision for Canadians and telecommunications, and it was focused on three things: quality, coverage and price.

So what progress have we made over the last 12 months?

Let me tackle quality first because we want our telecom services to be fast enough so every Canadian can participate fully in the digital economy.

Improved quality will allow us to innovate, whether in augmented reality, cloud computing or precision health.

And we’ve done some pretty remarkable things to improve quality.

We joined the governments of Ontario and Quebec to launch ENCQOR—an important public-private partnership in the 5G market.

ENCQOR is a 5G test bed that will advance the development of 5G networking solutions and next-generation technologies and applications.

I think this group knows better than anyone the impact of 5G and what it means for SMEs and innovators, our economy and Canadians.

While on the topic of 5G, I can tell you that today we are launching two consultations that will support 5G deployment.

We are proposing to release an additional 1 GHz of millimeter-wave spectrum and also launching a consultative process that will advance us toward the 3500 MHz auction.

As you know, 3500 MHz spectrum is going to be one of the preferred bands for 5G services.

The consultation reflects our commitment to getting this spectrum into the marketplace in a timely way that also supports competition.

We know that industry wants access to this spectrum.

Our proposals align with international trends in the 3500 MHz band and represent an important step toward ensuring it will be available to meet consumer demand for 5G.

More broadly, today my department published our spectrum-release road map for the next five years.

It’s a big part of our commitment to making the right spectrum available at the right time to meet current and future demand.

We plan to hold three spectrum auctions over the next three years to support 5G.

I’m referring to the 600 MHz auction in 2019—a band that has shown potential for 5G wireless and is also well-suited for rural and remote areas.

The 3500 MHz auction in 2020, which will also be key to delivering 5G services.

And, finally, the millimetre-wave auction in 2021, which is prime real estate for 5G networks.

In the meantime, we have redesigned the developmental licence program to help innovators get temporary access to spectrum.

And it’s working. People have snapped up these licences at a much higher rate, allowing them to test and validate solutions that advance Canada’s 5G leadership.

So the second angle we are focused on is coverage. In other words: Is the service available where I want it?

Over the past 18 months, we have rolled out our Connect to Innovate program with great success.

More than 800 rural and remote communities across Canada will soon be fully equipped to participate in the digital economy thanks to this program.

Congratulations to the service providers in the room for their incredible interest in this program.

It really is a great example of what we can do for Canadians when we work together.

Additionally, the CRTC is pursuing its new objective of getting broadband to homes and businesses at speeds of 50 Mbps.

Complementing these initiatives is a Budget 2018 commitment to support projects relating to low-earth-orbit satellites and next-generation rural broadband.

Low-earth-orbit broadband technologies are still developing, but they offer great potential.

Our $100-million investment will allow industry to develop such technologies.

Ultimately, this could lead to improved broadband coverage and capacity for Canadians.

The final piece of the puzzle—as it is in many industries—is price.

In the case of telecom: Are the high-quality services available to Canadians across the country affordable?

That’s what we’re aiming for.

To bring down costs, we all know the CRTC has banned cellphone unlocking fees.

Canadians paid nearly $38 million in unlocking fees in 2016.

I’m also pleased to say that, as part of the 600 MHz auction, we are setting aside 43 percent of the spectrum for regional competitors.

That’s a huge push for more competition—and the lower prices that such competition brings.

We’re very happy about this.

Finally, with respect to price, I am pleased to announce Connecting Families.

It’s a new initiative that will help hundreds of thousands of low-income Canadians get online so they too can participate in the digital economy.

And we’ll even provide them with a computer if they need it through our Computers for Schools program.

I want to recognize Bell, Cogeco, Rogers, Sasktel, Shaw, TELUS and Vidéotron for stepping up and offering low-cost home Internet service plans for hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

I truly appreciate your efforts and collaborative spirit.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all agree that all Canadians need access to high-quality, broad-reaching and affordable Internet services.

And, as with any competitive market, more can be done.

More must be done.

I won’t rest until we achieve a reality where kids in northern and remote communities have the same ability to connect as kids here in Toronto—kids like my two girls.

It is imperative that we remember many Canadians are not fully engaged in the digital economy.

Whether that’s due to an issue of quality, coverage or price, I encourage your industry to keep swinging for the fences.

Together, we will make this country a global centre for innovation—one that focuses on driving economic growth, creating middle-class jobs and improving the lives of all Canadians.

Thank you.

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