The federal government has unveiled new speed-related measures that will take effect in mid-January.
The changes, announced in a news release Monday, will be the first of their kind to address concerns about speed in the digital era.
“Internet speeds are going to be faster than ever before,” Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in the release.
“The changes announced today will bring greater transparency and control into the implementation of these rules and are a great step forward for Canadians.”
The government also announced a slew of other changes, including that people will be able to use a mobile phone while driving to download content, and that the minimum broadband speed for the public will be 50 megabits per second.
Aglukeas office said it was committed to protecting the integrity of the Internet and protecting Canadians from the risks of speed.
“As you can imagine, we are committed to keeping Canadians safe, as we are responsible for the protection of our economy and people’s personal data,” the statement said.
“We’re also making sure that our policies and practices protect Canadians from threats to the safety of our people and their property.”
The new rules come as a major step forward, but they still lack some clarity and are still not quite on the same footing as those introduced in the past.
As part of its efforts to address online piracy and online fraud, the government announced it would be introducing measures to require ISPs to block and filter the content of certain websites.
Those measures will also apply to some Internet service providers.
The measures will be effective on Jan. 6, 2019.
The new measures come as many Canadians continue to face the challenges of high speeds and slow internet access.
The average internet speed for Canadians is now nearly five times that of the United States, which has the world’s highest population density.
The United Kingdom has the second-highest average speed in Europe at nearly 20 megabit per second, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Canadian average speed is now only slightly higher than that of Australia, where it is about four times that.
The government also unveiled measures that it said will bring a level playing field for Canadians, including a requirement that ISPs have to get a government license before they can provide online services to all Canadians.
The rules also aim to give the government more control over ISPs by requiring them to provide the government with information on whether they have broken the rules.
“Canada is the only country in the world that doesn’t have this level of broadband and we need to ensure that we get the best internet service for Canadians,” Aglukes office said.
The changes to the country’s broadband regulation were announced in the midst of a heated debate over the cost of providing Internet services to Canadians.
In September, the federal government announced a proposed new broadband fee for Canadians that would apply to all Canadian Internet users.
While that proposal was controversial, Agluks office had argued that the new rules would protect Canadians’ privacy and online security by preventing ISPs from giving consumers access to their own information without a warrant.
Agulik said Monday that he supports that approach and has asked the government to re-examine the proposal.