Mr. Speaker, it is pretty exciting to get this opportunity to talk about a subject matter that is very important to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. One of the things our government takes pride in is the fact that we understand the importance of driving down prices for Internet and also driving down prices for cellphone use. Affordability has been a key priority for our government. I want to highlight how we have really addressed this issue over the past four years.
The key part of our strategy is competition. We fundamentally believe that if there is more competition, particularly in the different regions across the country, that will help drive down prices. Where there is more competition, the prices are 33% lower for consumers. That is what has been moving our agenda forward.
I want to highlight three particular areas that I think are really important for the debate on this opposition day motion that the NDP has presented. First of all, I want to talk about how we have better quality networks compared to Australia, India and other jurisdictions highlighted by the members opposite. I also want to talk about the members' concerns around coverage and particularly how we can really focus on broader coverage to really deal with that digital divide, the urban-rural split that we often talk about. Last, I want to highlight the measures we have taken to help reduce prices for Canadians. We have done quite a bit but we have much more to do. I will speak to exactly what that plan looks like.
I want to start off with quality. This is really important because it really speaks to issues that Canadians have raised particularly when it comes to customer sales practices and what they are experiencing. We recognize that there were sales tactics employed by telecommunication companies that were aggressive and not appropriate. That is why I asked the CRTC to investigate and look at these high-pressure sales tactics. It was a proactive measure that we as a government took. We said to the CRTC that this is an issue that is really irritating Canadians. I said that Canadians have written to me about it and I have heard about it from Canadians in town hall conversations that I have had and that we need to really look at this issue.
The CRTC examined the issue and found that there were high-pressure sales tactics and there was evidence of such behaviour. What does this mean? This means there will be a code of conduct that the CRTC will have put in place to really look at how to make sure we deal with these issues going forward.
We heard Canadians. We took action. The CRTC did its work and now it is coming forward with a mandatory code of conduct for the Internet to make sure that consumers are protected. I can tell colleagues right now that this is one example of how we are dealing with the issue of quality.
The other issue I want to talk about which I think is very important is the deployment of spectrum. This too has come up in conversations today and I have heard different members speak to this issue. We have put forward a very clear path when it comes to spectrum, the right spectrum available at the right time to make sure that we get the desired outcomes. We have a very aggressive plan. We have four such auctions, one for every year, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
We just completed the auction for the 600 megahertz. We have put a process in place for the 3,500 megahertz by 2020. In 2021, we will be coming forward with a millimetre wave auction as well, which is a very valuable spectrum. In the fourth year, we have highlighted 3,800 megahertz. All that important spectrum is for rural and remote communities. It also is very, very important for rolling out 5G.
We all recognize that 5G comes up in the news quite a bit. It has such enormous potential. 5G technology and 5G spectrum in particular are critical for Canada because of the Internet of things, because of smart cities, smart farms and all the data that is generated to create economic benefits for Canadians. Also, 5G is important to make sure that our rural communities continue to get access to the best quality spectrum and the best quality Internet and cell service as well. We are very confident that Canada will continue to play a key leadership role when it comes to the deployment and rolling out of 5G as well. I want to highlight the work we have done around spectrum as well.
I also want to talk about another issue that was mentioned which was around broader coverage. As highlighted by my colleagues, I am very proud of a program which was rolled out just a few years ago.
The connect to innovate program will create all kinds of opportunities for people, especially those in rural communities. It is absolutely essential. That is why we introduced the program. We are investing about $500 million and the private sector is investing $500 million, for a total of $1 billion.
That adds up to a lot of investments all over Canada, especially in rural regions.
This program has yielded enormously positive benefits for Canadians. There are roughly 900 communities under this program that would have access to high-speed Internet, that backbone fibre infrastructure which is so critical. Of those, I want to highlight that there will be roughly 168 indigenous communities that will benefit from this investment as well.
We are very proud of the connect to innovate program. What is really interesting is that it is a public-private partnership. The government stepped up with $500 million, as did the private sector with $500 million. This $1-billion investment will go a long way, but we have more to do. That is why in the most recent budget, which I was surprised members opposite voted against, there were over six billion dollars' worth of investments toward high-speed Internet connectivity for rural and remote communities. Let me highlight some of those areas.
The infrastructure bank will step up in a big way to support these projects. There is the universal broadband investment of $1.7 billion. There is also CRTC funding that starting to be deployed, which I am surprised members opposite want to stop. That money is going to be targeted at rural and remote communities. This complements the accelerated capital cost allowance investment that we highlighted which has now strengthened the business case for many of the telecommunication providers to invest in rural and remote communities.
When all is said and done, when it comes to coverage, this is really positive news, particularly the point raised by my colleague a few moments ago around low Earth orbit satellites. We made significant investments in this technology. For the really remote communities where it is difficult to make the business case for fibre, we are going to have low Earth orbit satellites to deal with the latency issue and the quality as well.
The last point I want to make on the three issues that I highlighted, better quality, broader coverage and lower prices, is our focus on pricing. As I mentioned, this year we rolled out 600 megahertz and we set aside 43% for regional players. That means more competition which means lower prices. I highlighted that at the beginning of remarks. In regions where there is more competition, prices are 33% lower. This is really important to us and we are very proud of that.
Pricing is not only an issue in rural communities; it is also a challenge in urban communities. There is a socio-economic challenge as well when it comes to the digital divide. Many families cannot afford high-speed Internet in urban communities, so we worked with industry, and industry stepped up in a big way. It said it would put forward a $10-a-month plan called connecting families, which provides high-speed Internet access to families under the Canada child benefit program. What is really exciting is that 20,000 families have benefited from this $10-a-month high-speed Internet connectivity plan. This speaks to what we have done around pricing.
It also complements the Wi-Fi MVNO decision we put forward to the CRTC, which ultimately resulted in the CRTC working with new low-cost data plans that benefit consumers, and goes to one of the earlier decisions we made. We said we wanted more competition. When Bell said it was going to add fibre to homes, we supported the decision to allow more Internet service providers access to that fibre, which again means more competition and lower prices.
As I said, we have done a lot, but we have a lot more to do. This speaks to the CRTC policy directive that we proposed. This is a directive that focuses on competition, affordability and consumer interest. This is really about making sure that consumers are at the heart of our decision-making process. This policy directive will put continued pressure on the telecommunications sector to reduce prices. At the same time, we have made incredible investments in our telecommunications sector, some $12 billion. We have some of the best world-class networks. I am confident that we will continue to build incredibly strong networks at more affordable prices.
Our plan is working. As I said, we have some of the best networks. We have improved coverage and prices are starting to go down. We have more to do, but clearly, we have laid the foundations for success and will continue to implement our agenda.