Rural broadband service provider Xplornet Communications Inc. has co-signed an open letter that calls on the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis, to change the way spectrum is auctioned. Rural Internet Service Providers are deeply concerned about the lack of spectrum for rural areas to build out broadband services and to expand the capacity of existing broadband services for rural Canadians.
Broadband providers outside of cities use wireless signals to deliver broadband to rural and remote locations. As consumers demand more and more capacity for Internet applications, the need for the capacity that only licensed spectrum delivers is critical and growing. However, because rural spectrum is sold together with spectrum for Canada’s major cities in large geographic blocks, rural ISPs are unable to bid for and buy broadband spectrum. This precious resource ends up largely used in urban areas, even though it is desperately needed in rural.
This should be a deep concern to all Canadians. Demand for broadband capacity is growing exponentially. Without spectrum, rural Canadians could face severe restrictions on service, and a growing divide between the ability of rural and urban Canadians to access internet service. This would severely impede Canada’s ability to implement a national digital strategy for all its citizens.
“Our request of the Industry Minister is remarkably simple and easy to affect – just sell urban and rural areas separately. That will allow cellular providers to buy the urban markets they want, will allow rural ISPs to bid for areas of low population density, and will bring more competition to the marketplace,” said John Maduri, CEO of Xplornet Communications, “There simply is no downside to this approach – it will bring more bidders to the auction, may increase revenue for the government and will ensure that rural Canadians are not left out of Canada’s digital future.”
The open letter appears today in the Hill Times and will run for several weeks. It was endorsed by twelve rural ISPs and can be found online.