Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today to join in the debate about telecom service in Canada. I am very proud of the work our government has done on this file and what we have achieved.
Our government is focused on three elements of telecom services that matter most to middle-class families: quality, coverage and price. We are committed to promoting greater competition to give Canadians more choice and better prices. We have been focused on this since coming to office. Solid, reliable broadband and mobile Internet are vital to supporting Canada's vibrant and growing digital economy. Ensuring Canadians have access to the latest technologies is a fundamental part of our innovation and skills plan.
That is why our government is committed to a national target in which 95% of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to Internet speeds of at least 50/10 megabytes per second by 2026 and 100% by 2030. This is an important commitment and one that is perfectly in line with the broadband Internet speed objectives set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, for Canadian households and businesses. To achieve this we are opening up new wireless airwaves also known as spectrum.
Spectrum is a critical resource for wireless communication and to meet these commitments. Whether it is for smart phones, fixed Internet, streaming videos, or GPS, current and next-generation services would not be possible without these airwaves. New spectrum will also be the backbone of the 5G revolution that we are on the verge of.
5G is expected to be a paradigm shift in how wireless services are delivered. It will support more data, more devices and faster speeds than previous generations. To roll this out effectively, our government will ensure the right spectrum and rules are in place at the right time to support the timely introduction of new and innovative technologies in Canada.
Our five-year spectrum release plan lays out our plan for making spectrum available in a timely manner. We are working to pave the way for 5G deployment in Canada to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to benefit from this new technology and participate fully in the digital economy. It will be important for providing Internet connectivity to Canadians in urban and rural areas. It is designed to provide both mobile and home Internet services.
For 5G to be delivered effectively, operators need a variety of what are called spectrum bands. In this case, low-band spectrum will help with coverage, mid-band for a combination of coverage and capacity and high-band for significant increase in capacity.
In early April, we completed the first of the auction in our plan. Through the 600 megahertz auction, regional competitors more than doubled their share of low-band spectrum.
The auction raised $3.47 billion, which, as has always been the practice, will be remitted to the consolidated revenue fund administered by the Receiver General for Canada. This money will be used to support priorities for Canadians.
It is important to remember that this revenue is collected over the life of the agreement with providers, which is often decades. In the case of the 600 megahertz auction, it is 20 years.
We are pleased that regional providers more than doubled their share of 600 megahertz spectrum following our auction in March. This will strengthen competition, which will drive prices down and improve coverage.
We are also planning to release more spectrum. In fact, we are planning three more spectrum auctions over the next three years making more spectrum available for mobile services than we have ever before.
Of course, we also understand the need to modernize our rules. That is why we launched a developmental licence playbook to help innovators get temporary access to spectrum which will allow them to test the functions of 5G.
Our government is taking action to empower current and future innovators and entrepreneurs by making it easier for individuals and businesses to test and research leading-edge spectrum devices.
In addition, the new developmental spectrum licence process supports the R and D of new technologies and services that will benefit all Canadians. This includes medical service companies that want to enable doctors to monitor their patients remotely. It will help tech firms working to equip municipalities with automated systems. It will allow research firms seeking to bring connected cars to market to better test their technologies, to improve safety and save lives on Canadian roads.
Officials at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada have noted explosive growth relating to requests to test in Canada and have received positive stakeholder feedback for our efforts to accommodate new systems. In the past two years, ISED has issued over 300 developmental licences that facilitate innovation and experimentation in the wireless industry.
Looking to the future, we are currently preparing decisions on two consultations aimed at improving access to spectrum. This includes backhaul licence fees that take into account future innovative and data intensive uses. The current fee structure, which is based on how much data one sends, can make it prohibitively expensive to move large amounts of data via wireless backhaul. A new fee structure would significantly reduce the cost of offering 5G services in remote locations or where fibre is not yet available.
My colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, is consulting on a new set of smaller spectrum service areas known as tier 5. The intent of these consultations is to meet current and future wireless needs, encourage additional access to spectrum within rural areas and support new technologies and emerging use cases. This consultation responds to a specific concern we heard from small service providers that they face challenges in acquiring spectrum.
By creating smaller tiers, we will recognize the inherent differences in rural areas, make it easier for smaller service providers to acquire spectrum they need to operate and grow their businesses and ultimately lead to improved connectivity for rural Canadians. We are examining new, dynamic and innovative licensing approaches to respond to new service opportunities, including rural and remote connectivity.
We know that the demand for spectrum will continue to grow and we need to adapt in order to meet that demand. This means not just accelerating the pace at which we auction spectrum, but releasing it in innovative new ways. We are developing new innovative and advanced tools to get the most out of Canada's wireless airways. These tools will help us understand the spectrum environment so we can make more and better use of spectrum available in the future, particularly in rural and remote areas.
Our government has achieved a lot already on this important file. Prices are going down and speed and coverage are going up. However, we are committed to encouraging affordable telecom services to help bridge the digital divide, foster inclusivity and support an innovative economy. Our government recognizes that in some cases rural and remote communities can only be served by having access to spectrum, and we are working to ensure that spectrum resources are available for the various services that offer rural broadband connectivity.
Officials are already meeting with small wireless Internet service providers to better understand any challenges they have experienced in accessing spectrum. To date, they have heard back from over 100 small Internet service providers that have shared their experiences and ideas.
Delivering universal high-speed Internet to every Canadian in the quickest and most cost-effective way will require a coordinated effort with our partners in the private sector and across all levels of government.
To meet this commitment, budget 2019 proposed a coordinated plan. This includes a $1.7-billion top-up to the connect to innovate program, a new universal broadband fund and commitment to securing advanced low Earth orbit satellite capacity to serve the most rural and remote regions of Canada. Through this comprehensive and important work, we will deliver on our commitment to ensure every household and business in Canada has access to high-speed Internet by 2030.