Recommendations to ensure access for all
One of the biggest connectivity challenges in Canada, for those who have access, is that its broadband prices are among the highest in the world. When the CRTC declared all Canadian households should have high-speed broadband as a basic telecommunications service in 2016, it called on the federal government to develop a national broadband strategy. At the time of the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit, no such plan had been put in place. Nor does a plan exist in the United States.
Since participants of the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit featured delegates from communities who have some of the largest challenges to access, they developed the following recommendations for consideration to ensure all Indigenous people in North America have access to the Internet of opportunity:
- Ensure Indigenous communities are consulted in developing a national accessibility strategy.
- Avoid massive, overly ambitious, and restrictive plans. Instead, build a set of principles with a flexible approach that factors in technological advances over time.
- Consider different technological solutions for different connectivity realities and challenges.
- Develop open questions as opposed to asking questions that seek to justify a specific agenda.
- Provide open access to data from telecommunications companies on things like fibre nodes that could help inspire solutions.
- Make federal funding accessible to all kinds of providers, large and small.
- Prioritize connectivity solutions to the hardest places to connect first. If not, there will always be people that are left out.
- Provide special consideration for rural and Indigenous communities.
- Consider different models of connectivity in relation to rural versus urban areas, especially regarding use of spectrum.
- Free up more spectrum from companies who aren’t using it.