In April of 2017, the CRTC initiated a proceeding that sought comments on the establishment of the broadband funding regime including its governance, operating, and accountability frameworks, as well as eligibility and assessment criteria for applicants to the fund.
FMCC’s intervention recommended a ‘Whole Community’ approach that would support organizations based in regions to leverage broadband infrastructure for community and economic development. A successful application to the broadband fund demonstrates sustainable community benefits including: local consultation, engagement and support; hiring and training of community members; local or regional management and capacity; local or regional organizational structure and governance; adequate quality of service (QoS); affordability; and network scalability. Other issues addressed by FMCC include Indigenous cultural and data sovereignty; third party administrator of the broadband fund; the need for regular monitoring of access, affordability and QoS.
Reply to comments
On August 25, 2017, FMCC submitted comments on statements made by other parties. FMCC’s submission focused on select topics related to: governance, operating, and accountability frameworks; eligibility criteria; and assessment criteria. FMCC indicated support for the Non-profits’ Consensus Broadband Fund Design Principles developed by NPF-PIAC, and stressed that community-based organizations must be supported in accessing the new funding mechanism as providers and not just consumers of telecom infrastructure and services. It also expressed concern that the fund becomes a vehicle in which large incumbents fund the program on the front end and draw from it at the backend using complex proposals that overstate their nature of their partnerships with First Nations.
Requests for Information
On November 20, 2017 FMCC provided responses to questions including what should the-involvement of ISED in the fund be? What process should be used to reimburse third party or parties for expenses incurred from performing roles and responsibilities? FMCC also expressed its support for the use of a three-stage assessment process and comparative selection.
On December 18, 2017, FMCC submitted its Final Comment on the broadband fund regime proceeding. It reiterated the importance of the active involvement of communities in funding proposals and the need for Applicants to the Fund to demonstrate they have adequately engaged with communities in both initial planning and application stages, and also fulfilled public/community benefits.