Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for the invitation to join you here today. My name is C.J. Prudham, and I am the chief legal and regulatory officer for Xplornet Communications Inc. With me is Charles Beaudet, who is our vice-president of eastern Canada.
We're pleased to have the opportunity to update you on how Xplornet has kept Canadians connected to what matters throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xplornet is Canada's largest rural-focused Internet service provider, connecting nearly one million Canadians. Conquering our country's vast geography by bringing fast, affordable Internet to rural Canada is more than just our business. It's our purpose. We proudly serve more Canadians who choose to live outside the cities.
The needs of rural Canadians who depend on us have been top of mind for Xplornet since the COVID-19 outbreak began just two months ago. Businesses in Canadian cities sent their employees home, including those who commute from rural communities. Rural Canadian businesses have also sent their employees to work from home. Rural schools are closed with teachers trying hard to stay connected to their students. Rural families are trying to keep in touch through Zoom and FaceTime. In short, life has moved online, as much in rural Canada as in our cities.
At Xplornet we've observed an increase in traffic in our network of 30% to 40% throughout the day. Our network operations team works 24-7 to balance this demand and to ensure our customers receive the best Internet experience. We recognize that this additional usage has not been a choice for our customers, and we understand the financial pressures many rural Canadian families face right now. That's why Xplornet has suspended data overage fees until the end of June.
More broadly, the pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of expanding access to rural broadband. The remote work, video meeting and online learning tools we have all become all too familiar with recently are enabled by fast, affordable Internet connection.
At Xplornet we recognize several ingredients that are necessary to ensure Internet access in rural Canada keeps pace with that in the city. The first is access to wireless spectrum. Whether it is LTE fixed wireless, 5G or hybrid fibre wireless technologies in use, spectrum is the oxygen that our network needs to breathe. More literally, it's the radio waves that carry the data between our customers and the Internet.
While data consumption by all Canadians, rural and urban, in their homes has exploded in recent years, Canada has not consistently pursued a balanced spectrum policy that provides for the needs of both urban and rural Canadians. The present 3500 megahertz auction is the first process to contemplate spectrum for fixed wireless home connection in more than five years, despite the fact that residential Internet use has increased nearly 500% during that period.
There is no question that rural Canada needs access to spectrum to keep pace and to enjoy the different but equally important benefits that hybrid fibre wireless and 5G technologies can deliver in rural areas.
On that note, I would like to turn it over to my colleague, Charles.