The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has set a target for broadband Internet access services across Canada of a minimum of 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream, by 2015.

Some observers will criticize the goal for being too modest, and that is a matter of legitimate opinion.

At the moment, 95 percent of households currently have access to Internet download speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps and more than 80 percent of households already have access to download speeds of 5 Mbps or higher.

So the way to position the announcement is the way governments typically think about such goals, which is universal service. Another way of putting matters is to say that CRTC wants to ensure that the most-rural households, in particular, have access to 5 Mbps service.

The plan doesn’t limit speeds or prevent users and providers from higher-speed services that already are fairly widely available.

The same sort of argument can be made about the U.S. “National Broadband Plan,” which likewise has been criticized in some quarters as being insufficiently bold. But that is an attempt to ensure minimum levels, and does not in any way prevent providers from aiming much higher, as they are, or limit consumer ability to buy higher-speed plans.

The “typical” U.S. consumer already has access to speeds of 6 Mbps, for example. As in Canada, the U.S. plan aims to ensure universal coverage as a floor; it does not set a ceiling.

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