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The $5.27 billion Digital Endowment fund our government can invest in connecting Canadian communities

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On April 2nd, our government will come into a Digital Endowment of $5.27 billion. We need to ensure this money is put towards connecting all Canadians to high-speed Internet, innovative community-based network initiatives, and improving Canada’s digital economy.

At this point, you might be wondering what a “Digital Endowment” is, why you’ve never heard of it and where the money came from -- so let’s run through it!

Basically, the Digital Endowment is the money our government has earned on the sale of our public spectrum assets -- in this case, over $5 billion. In short, spectrum is the range of public airwaves that make your mobile devices work. It’s a public resource, kind of like water, and every few years the government sells licenses to Big Telecom conglomerates to use different sets of airwaves in different regions. These telecom companies then sell you a mobile phone and cell service, so you can connect with your friends and family.

Now, a sane society should approach the management of public resources -- like spectrum -- in the best interests of all Canadians. This is what we are calling for, and we expect Canadians will agree. Our call is simple:

Take our $5.27 billion Digital Endowment and put our money back into our networks to connect our communities.

Our goal is to ensure that all Canadians have access to world-class Internet services. This will allow all Canadians the ability to establish their own businesses, connect with friends and family and contribute positively to the cultural and economic health of their communities.

Very soon we will continue on to the next chapter of our work by developing a series of on- and offline engagement strategies to determine the specific needs of communities across Canada. We’ll listen to what Canadians have to say, and also share ideas on how to improve our networks, such as the expansion of community-based broadband initiatives, improving rural and remote access and identifying strategies for growing Canada’s digital economy.

But in the meantime, we need to face the facts. Canada’s Internet has never been more dysfunctional:

  1. We’ve plummeted as a digital leader -- moving from 2nd place in 2001 to 16th place in 2014 on broadband access.
  2. On the key metric of upload speeds, Canada now ranks 53rd in the world.
  3. We pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world and Big Telecom just raised their rates even further.
  4. High speed Internet remains unavailable to a huge chunk of Canadians.
  5. Choice and affordability are in the ruts. The Big Three have monopoly-like control of all available Internet services.

Between dropped Skype calls, blocked content, Netflix and YouTube constantly starting and stopping, painfully slow downloads, and constant price-gouging, we’re increasingly falling behind our global counterparts.

Right now, we have a unique opportunity to push Industry Minister Moore to take the Digital Endowment, which is our money, and invest it back into our networks to connect our communities so we can stop falling behind the rest of the world. Minister Moore is feeling the heat over his promise to lower prices and improve choice. Let’s send him a message so he knows how he can regain our trust. We hope you’ll join us.

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