Evidence of meeting #15 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was spectrum.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marie-Hélène Labrie  Senior Vice-President and Chief Public Affairs and Communications Officer, Cogeco Inc.
Leonard Eichel  Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Cogeco Inc.
Dean Prevost  President, Rogers for Business, Rogers Communications Inc.
Tony Geheran  Executive Vice-President and Chief Customer Officer, Telus Communications Inc.
C.J. Prudham  Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Xplornet Communications Inc.
Charles Beaudet  Vice-President, Eastern Canada, Xplornet Communications Inc.
David Watt  Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.
Stephen Schmidt  Vice-President, Telecom Policy and Chief Regulatory Legal Counsel, Telus Communications Inc.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Good evening everyone. I now call this meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 15 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Pursuant to the order of reference of Saturday, April 11, the committee is meeting for the purpose of receiving evidence concerning matters related to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today's meeting is taking place by video conference, and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website.

I would like to remind you—members and the witnesses—to please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. When you are ready to speak, please unmute your microphone, and then return to mute when you are finished speaking. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly so that the translators can do their work.

I'd like to now welcome our witnesses.

From Cogeco, we have Madam Marie-Hélène Labrie, senior vice-president and chief public affairs and communications officer; and Mr. Leonard Eichel, senior director, regulatory affairs. From Rogers Communications, we have Dean Prevost, president, Rogers for Business; and David Watt, senior vice-president, regulatory. From Telus Communications, we have Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief customer officer; and Mr. Stephen Schmidt, vice-president, telecom policy and chief regulatory legal counsel. From Xplornet Communications, we have Charles Beaudet, vice-president, eastern Canada; and C. J. Prudham, chief legal and regulatory officer.

Each witness will present for seven minutes, followed by rounds of questions. We will start with Cogeco.

You have seven minutes.

5:05 p.m.

Marie-Hélène Labrie Senior Vice-President and Chief Public Affairs and Communications Officer, Cogeco Inc.

Good morning. Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for this opportunity to present Cogeco's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cogeco is a communications company headquartered in Montreal that provides video, Internet and telephony services in Canada and the United States to residential and business customers. We are also a leader in the Quebec radio industry, with 22 stations across the province.

Cogeco was founded in Trois-Rivières by the Audet family more than 60 years ago. Through the years, we have maintained our entrepreneurial spirit, taken risks and have made significant ongoing investments in network infrastructure.

We are a regional player serving small and medium-sized communities, including rural areas. Our Canadian network reaches from Windsor, Ontario, to Gaspé, Quebec, and serves more than 427 communities. All of our customers are served by employees based in our footprint. We employ more than 3,150 people in Canada and maintain solid relationships with the communities we serve.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on our company. More than ever, access to our services is of paramount importance for the communities we serve. We have proactively managed the crisis to ensure that we continue our operations, protect our employees and serve our customers.

Let me give you specific examples of how we have managed through this pandemic.

We transitioned all of our contact centre employees and office employees to work from home very rapidly. We converted in-person customer visits by our technicians to self-installation and remote repairs. We transitioned all store operations to be handled either online, by phone or by email. We increased network capacity to handle higher traffic. We provided video content for free. We also provided customers with temporary relief by committing to keep customers with payment difficulties connected and by temporarily removing Internet data overage fees for customers not already subscribing to unlimited plans.

We also adapted our charity support activities as well as our community television programming. Cogeco donated to the COVID-19 emergency fund of the United Way of Greater Montreal, and we are also supporting several food banks in our local communities. Cogeco also participates in the connecting families initiative, offering discounted Internet services to lower-income families.

Our network continues to experience significant increased utilization during this time of confinement. Our technicians and engineers are working tirelessly to actively monitor traffic and to ensure the continued stability of our network.

Since the beginning of the crisis, Cogeco has seen 60% greater use of our Internet services during the day. We've also seen a 40% increase in traffic for our video-on-demand services and growth of between 20% to 40% for other video streaming services, including Netflix, as well as 45% additional usage of our telephony services.

We are able to meet this increase in demand thanks to the capacity, reliability and robustness of our network. This is only possible because of our ongoing investments in maintaining, upgrading and expanding our infrastructure.

5:10 p.m.

Leonard Eichel Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Cogeco Inc.

Since the beginning of our cable operations in 1972, Cogeco has invested massively in infrastructure to build a robust network to meet the continually growing needs of consumers for speed, data capacity and access in underserved areas. The current crisis has revealed how vital our role is. However, every day we see that Canadians still have a need to be connected or to receive higher Internet speeds.

Cogeco has committed to invest more than $1 billion over the next four years in the operation and expansion of our regional network. We are working closely with many municipalities to extend our network so that we can deliver high-speed connectivity to as many residents, families and businesses as possible. We hope the universal broadband fund announced last year can be launched quickly and that the CRTC can receive project proposals for the broadband fund very soon.

However, there are two important barriers to the deployment of our digital infrastructure. The first is access to support infrastructure. There are excessive delays in obtaining necessary permits for accessing support structures, such as poles, or municipal rights-of-way. These delays are slowing down more than 50 of our network expansion projects, which include hundreds of pending permits, preventing us from connecting close to 12,000 Canadian homes in a timely manner.

The second is the CRTC wholesale rates for high-speed Internet. We are very concerned by the CRTC's decision on wholesale rates and the negative impact it would have on rural and regional network investments going forward in Canada. Allowing independent service providers, often called resellers, to use our network at heavily discounted wholesale prices that are below our own cost, with no obligation for them to invest in network capacity, will not ensure ongoing and sustainable investment by Cogeco in its regional network.

Finally, we would like to bring to your attention that the regional market for mobile wireless services in Canada continues to be characterized by very limited competition and very high barriers to entry. Unlike the Internet market, there was no regulatory obligation for incumbents to provide new entrants access to their network. Mobile wireless spectrum, which is required to launch a wireless business, is scarce, as most of it has already been allocated. It is also expensive to acquire, as options have been designed for large operators and not for smaller regional ones.

Cogeco has the foundation to become a new entrant in this market. We have the broadband infrastructure required to build a wireless network. We already have some spectrum licences. We have customers in small cities and regional municipalities where 3.9 million Canadians live and work, and we have the investment capacity.

We believe that the solution can be found in a balanced regulatory regime that allows new companies to enter the wireless market in a sustainable way. With the proposal we made to the CRTC in February, regional wireline network companies like Cogeco would be granted regulated access to portions of the national incumbent's wireless network, while also being required to continue to invest in infrastructure.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Thank you so much.

Our next presentation comes from Rogers Communications.

You have seven minutes.

5:15 p.m.

Dean Prevost President, Rogers for Business, Rogers Communications Inc.

Thank you, Madam Chair, and welcome, everyone.

Good afternoon. I am Dean Prevost, president, Rogers for Business, at Rogers Communications. I am joining you today from Calgary. With me in Toronto is my colleague David Watt, senior vice-president, regulatory, at Rogers. We appreciate this opportunity to appear.

Rogers understands that we provide critical services, and we have stepped up to the challenges during this period. We've been focused on protecting our employees and customers and ensuring Canadians stay connected. We thank our front-line teams that are working hard to deliver critical services to our customers.

We are going to address our network performance, how we have addressed our operating challenges, our support programs for our customers and our country’s challenges with high-speed rural Internet service.

Our networks provide the foundation for our lives today. With great efforts from our engineers and technicians, our networks are meeting the challenge. Throughout the average day, home Internet usage is up over 50%, while voice-call usage on our wireless network is up 40%. On average, our customers are making over 50 million wireless voice calls per day. Meanwhile, 1-800 toll-free calls are up over 300%. We augmented our 1-800 lines for the federal government support programs in record time, significantly increasing capacity to 40,000 simultaneous calls. Canadians are relying on us, our connectivity and our resilient networks.

Our engineering and field technicians are front-line heroes, maintaining our services and supporting health care providers in many ways, including deploying temporary cell sites on wheels to increase capacity to hospitals; running fibre in parking lots and fields and extending fixed wireless to create new COVID-19 testing centres; and bringing more Wi-Fi to hospitals, seniors homes and homeless shelters.

In order to serve our customers and keep everyone safe, we changed the way we operate almost overnight. We enhanced our self-install services to deliver an easy way for our customers to activate services safely from inside their homes. We closed about 90% of our retail stores, with the open locations providing urgent customer support for our services. Also, we rapidly enabled our customer care team members to work from home. Customers can still call us. Service levels are still strong. In February, we had only 800 care agents serving our customers from home. Today, virtually all of our 7,000 customer care agents are serving our customers from their homes here in Canada.

Many of our customers are facing difficult circumstances. Here are some of the measures we’ve brought in to assist them.

We’re lifting usage caps for home Internet plans, eliminating overage charges. We’re waiving Canadian long-distance calling fees for homes and small businesses. We’re offering a free rotating selection of TV channels, including children’s programming, to keep Canadians entertained.

We’ve added more flexible payment options and a commitment that customers will remain connected to their service so nobody has to worry about losing their digital lifeline. We’re helping small businesses stay productive and connected with free and affordable technologies, including offering Microsoft Teams and Office 365 free for six months. We also waived international roaming fees so that more than 150,000 Canadians stayed connected at no additional cost while they returned home from abroad.

The Rogers team is also focused on helping some of the most vulnerable in our communities. One example is that we're working with the Ontario government, local school boards and Apple to provide learning software enabled iPads with wireless data at no cost to students in need. We’re now rolling out this initiative in other provinces, including with the Winnipeg School Division in Manitoba.

In addition to this and other local efforts, we’ve launched national partnerships with community organizations to help the most vulnerable. We’ve partnered with Food Banks Canada to donate over one million meals, and our employees donated an additional half a million meals on top of that. We’re providing smart phones, in collaboration with Samsung, with six months of free wireless service to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. We’ve also partnered with women’s shelters in Canada to make devices and plans available to help address the rise in domestic violence.

Turning to high-speed rural Internet service, with the enormous size of Canada, there are rural locations where Canadians do not have the Internet service they need. To help, we launched a new Rocket hub wireless plan that includes a larger data bucket with the lowest cost for extra data we've ever offered to help rural Canadians reduce costs if they spend more time working and learning from home.

Unfortunately, where we do not have high-capacity, high-speed wireline networks, we are not able to provide unlimited wireless data for Internet access at home at this time. Put simply, wireline networks take 50 to 200 times the capacity for consumers as rural mobile wireless networks. Removing data caps would simply overwhelm the mobile wireless network, impairing services for everyone in that area, including the first responders and 911 services that rely on it. This is particularly true today, when both students and workers are turning to video, including Skype, Teams, FaceTime and Zoom in an unprecedented way, as we are doing here today.

Network expansions in rural and remote locations take time and funding. As a nation, we need to aggressively address Canada's digital divide together through coordinated public-private partnerships. Sustained investment in networks is essential to help Canadians rebuild our economy. We have some of the best networks in the world, and we need to work in partnership to extend them to all Canadians, as challenging as those economics are.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this review.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Thank you very much.

Our next group is Telus Communications Inc.

You have seven minutes.

5:20 p.m.

Tony Geheran Executive Vice-President and Chief Customer Officer, Telus Communications Inc.

Madam Chair and honourable members, on behalf of Telus I would like to thank the committee for inviting us here today to talk about how we are supporting Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis.

My name is Tony Geheran, and I am the executive vice-president and chief customer officer at Telus and the executive prime of the Telus emergency management operating committee. Joining me is my colleague Stephen Schmidt, our vice-president of regulatory affairs.

COVID-19 has exposed how important connectivity is to all Canadians. Telus is consistently experiencing four times the network traffic compared with our busiest day pre-COVID-19. Our networks have stood up to this test. In fact, Opensignal released a report on Tuesday that shows Canada now has the fastest wireless speeds in the world. This is a direct result of careful planning and long-term investment. As we begin to look toward Canada’s economic recovery, it is critical to focus on policy frameworks and continue to maintain a stable regulatory regime that supports and encourages ongoing investment in robust high-quality networks.

At Telus, supporting our communities and our team is at the heart of our corporate culture. Our quick and decisive actions have contributed $150 million to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed us to protect our team and preserve our capacity to support the nation. Between March 18 and March 23, we leveraged our existing flexible work styles program to increase our work-from-home rate for our call centre agents from 40% to 99%, in addition to implementing industry-leading safety and physical distancing practices for our teams supporting customers in the field.

We put power behind our Telus Health business, enabling virtual doctor visits through our electronic medical record platforms. Since launching in April, doctors have scheduled more than 30,000 virtual appointments with Canadians. To support at-risk populations, we repurposed our mobile health clinics to help with testing, assessment or emergency quarantine shelters across Canada’s major cities.

We committed publicly not to disconnect any customers during this time and offered flexible payment arrangements for those experiencing financial challenges. We waived fees for low-income families enrolled in our Internet for good program and expanded it to include students in need. We've also supported our front-line health care workers through a $10-million donation from our Future Friendly Foundation.

This only scratches the surface of how Telus is delivering on its social purpose, and I would be happy to share a full list with this committee following this meeting.

I would like to turn now to the question of rural connectivity, a topic of much debate in recent meetings of this committee.

COVID-19 has accentuated the need for high-speed Internet access for Canadians everywhere. Since 2013, we have connected 282 rural communities to the Telus PureFibre network, including 53 indigenous communities, and we have another 50 rural communities planned for this year. Since the start of the pandemic, our commitment to rural connectivity has only deepened. In Alberta and B.C., we accelerated our investment in rural broadband to more than 60,000 Canadians across 32 communities, with an additional 27 in progress.

Here are two examples I'd like to share with you. Our $7.5-million investment to connect Pemberton and the Lil’wat Nation, a B.C. community of some 2,000 residents, to our PureFibre network was completed last year and was supported by the local developer community, which raised an additional $250,000 to help the project reach the financial barrier so it could go ahead. These homes and businesses now have access to connectivity of up to one gigabit per second. In addition, in partnership with the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, we recently embarked on a project to bring connectivity to the 5,000 residents of 14 hyper-remote communities on Quebec’s lower north shore. These are only accessible by air or sea. We expect to complete this project by December, one year ahead of schedule.

Where fixed network costs are prohibitive, we’re leveraging our wireless network. We currently serve 80,000 high-speed Internet subscribers through wireless and have invested a further $9 million to support increased capacity for the usage we are now experiencing. We also connected more than 1.5 million rural Canadians to new or improved wireless LTE coverage between 2015 and 2019.

As you can see, Telus has a long-standing track record of connecting rural communities. We have invested $5 billion in infrastructure over the past six years, of which $1 billion has been used to connect 40% of all rural Canadian homes we serve, despite 30% higher build costs.

Telus is the right partner to close the rural connectivity gap. We are committed to finding creative solutions, but we need support from the federal and provincial governments and better spectrum policy. For example, the current practice of setting aside more than 40% of available spectrum for regional providers is not working. Although this practice has been in place since 2008, large amounts of set-aside spectrum remain undeployed in rural areas.

Set-asides have also led Canada to have some of the highest spectrum costs in the world. Additionally, the current 20-year deployment model is not working. More stringent deployment conditions should be attached to all spectrum licences to drive network construction.

With COVID-19 demonstrating how important it is to bring connectivity to all Canadians, it's time we rethink our country's approach to spectrum policy.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Thank you very much.

Our next witness is Xplornet Communications. You have the floor for seven minutes.

5:25 p.m.

C.J. Prudham Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Xplornet Communications Inc.

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.

5:30 p.m.

Charles Beaudet Vice-President, Eastern Canada, Xplornet Communications Inc.

Thank you, Ms. Prudham.

Over the past five years, Xplornet has invested more than $1.5 billion in its facilities and network to expand its coverage while increasing the speed and amount of data available to its customers.

Last year, we announced an additional $500-million investment to bring 5G and hybrid fibre to rural Canadians.

In 2019, Xplornet launched an unlimited data offer to all its customers. This unprecedented decision made unlimited data available to rural Internet users in all provinces and territories in Canada. We also began doubling download speeds to 50 megabits per second across Canada. Over the next three years, Xplornet will bring download speeds of 100 megabits per second and unlimited data to 1.5 million households that were previously unserved in rural areas. All of this will be funded by private capital.

Thanks to innovation and private investment, Xplornet will, with a strong lead, surpass the Government of Canada's goal of providing broadband connectivity by 2030.

To enable these advances, we are using the same technologies that are currently deployed in major Canadian cities—fibre and advanced 5G wireless technology—to enable rural Canadians to access the same speeds and amount of data as those in urban areas. With these advances, Xplornet is focusing all its efforts on bridging the digital divide between regions.

We recognize that the Government of Canada has a role to play in providing targeted funding to accelerate the construction of services. These public investments are helping to accelerate and enhance our planned deployments. In addition, we look forward to the launch of the universal broadband fund program.

In the Quinte region of eastern Ontario, Xplornet is connecting more than 40,000 households to the hybrid fibre wireless network, which will provide access to speeds of 100 megabits per second for rural residents. This project is supported by the connect to innovate program, and we look forward to new projects under this program in Prescott-Russell and Northumberland Counties in the near future.

Xplornet is also working with the support of Infrastructure Canada to install hybrid wireless fibre networks in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Finally, the deployment of broadband projects in rural areas should not be delayed due to bureaucratic procedures.

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Thank you very much.

We will now begin our first round of questions. Our first six-minute round goes to MP Patzer.

You have the floor for six minutes.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

My first questions will be directed towards Rogers.

Can you define for me what you would describe as “rural” for the purposes of providing broadband?

5:35 p.m.

David Watt Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.

It's Dave Watt here. I'll take the first shot at that. Dean may follow up.

I think we would consider “rural” to be the same metric as Statistics Canada does, that is, communities with a population of less than 1,000 and areas where the density of population is 400 or fewer per square kilometre. In this way, we're working from the common definition that the CRTC uses, and StatsCan as well.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Right on.

Do you think it's worth providing high-quality reliable connections to rural Canadians in this current environment? There have been a lot of threats from the big three about cutting spending to rural Canadians due to some of the regulatory changes the CRTC is making.

If you're threatening to cut to small towns, is it worth making that investment?

5:35 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.

David Watt

I think what you're likely referring to are the comments in reaction to the CRTC decision last August with respect to the wholesale Internet rates set by the commission at that time, which Mr. Eichel from Cogeco referred to in his comments.

Should those rates go into effect, there would be a dramatic loss of revenue. This certainly would put pressure on the infrastructure builders and make it more difficult to expand our services. It's really not a threat. We want to serve rural Canada. We do serve rural Canada. We know how important it is.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

There is one other thing I want to ask you quickly.

You have provided relief during COVID for people who have a data cap on their home Internet service. Why, in this day and age, is it acceptable to even have a data cap on a home Internet service?

May 14th, 2020 / 5:35 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.

David Watt

About 80% of our customers do not have a cap on their home Internet service. They have taken unlimited service. Those who've chosen to take a package that has a cap are paying a lower price. There are certain Canadians with certain income abilities who will want a lower price.

Simply put, traffic has costs. I know that one bit doesn't cost a lot, but when you add up the trillions and trillions of bits, they cost a lot. This is why Rogers invested $2.9 billion last year in capital expenditures. I know you can't see it going through the ground or through the air, but there are massive expenditures in fibre optics, under the ground, in towers, in radios, etc.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Sure. It's just that if people want that lower cost, usually it's because they can't afford the higher rates, but they still deserve to have the full access that other people have.

My next questions will be for Telus.

In 2014, Ted Woodhead was threatening to reduce investment in rural Canada. Recently, Darren Entwhistle also made similar threats, saying that you're going to cut 5,000 employees and reduce your spending by about a billion dollars. Yet, you're saying here that you're committed to rural Canada.

If you keep making threats like that, how committed to rural Canada are you?

5:35 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Customer Officer, Telus Communications Inc.

Tony Geheran

We don't keep making threats. You cited two examples. That's not a pattern.

For sure, if you're going to have policy that will fundamentally undermine an investment strategy, you have to act accordingly. If policy is going to change so dramatically that it would undermine future capital investments and the returns we would need to generate, we would certainly withdraw our investment.

However, with respect to broadband, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We've invested $6 billion already in fibre infrastructure, and, as I said, $1 billion of that was for what we would call “rural and small communities”. When I define a small community, it's 5,000 in population down to 20 to 40 people. In some cases, we've gone to places as small as 10 homes. They were on the edge of a boundary of a network, and we were able to justify it and make the economics work because we were there building at the time.

We are committed. If the regulatory policy is stable and the return economics are viable, we would continue to invest. We want to grow our network infrastructure. We want to connect more Canadians. We just want a regulatory environment and a framework that we can rely upon.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

My next questions are going to be for Xplornet.

I was looking at your website about how you're working with different levels of government to provide affordable Internet to rural areas. However, it only lists three provinces: Ontario, B.C., and Alberta. Why is it just those three provinces?

5:40 p.m.

Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Xplornet Communications Inc.

C.J. Prudham

Those happen to be the three that are listed on the website, but that's certainly not a full list, by any stretch of the imagination.

We've recently announced projects with P.E.I., for example, and Nova Scotia. In particular, we note that the Nova Scotia one has been sped up, specifically to address COVID-19. We're working with them to accelerate that to connect more people in the Cumberland—Colchester area.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

I'm from Saskatchewan. I spent 10 years working in telecommunications.

In my journeys across the province—from all different sides of the province—I haven't heard a single person say that their Xplornet service has been satisfactory. I'm curious as to why that would be.

5:40 p.m.

Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Xplornet Communications Inc.

C.J. Prudham

I can't speak to that. Obviously, I don't know.

I'm sure there are people with every service who are not happy. I can say that we put the customer first. We do extensive customer interviews. We subscribe to the NPS, net promoter score process, and have excellent results.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Thank you so much. That's the end of that tour.

The next six-minute round goes to MP Longfield.

You have six minutes.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Thank you, everybody, for being with us and discussing issues around COVID, how it's changing your businesses, and what we can be learning, going forward, in terms of regulatory support. Obviously, your business models are changing drastically in terms of volume and in terms of data management. That came out in your discussion.

I have two areas I'd like to explore: the regulatory system itself and working with the CRTC. They've changed spectrum processes. We made some recommendations on eliminating the beehive-type density patterns that we had been using in the past. How has working with CRTC been going? We had the review in February. Since then, has there been any further work with CRTC?

That's for Cogeco, perhaps, or anybody else.