Mark Goldberg

The Canadian Telecom Summit

Fox Group Dispatch

Can we talk?

As I have written in the past, mental healthcare is the main line of business for my family. My older brother and my sister are psychologists, following in the footsteps of my father – a psychiatrist – to help others.

Bell Let’s Talk Day is about talking. It is a day for talking about something that makes many people uncomfortable. And as I wrote last year, we need to talk even more. Public perception is the leading reason that most of those living with a mental illness do not seek help. Bell’s willingness to have its brand associated with helping Canadians deal with mental illness is a brave and bold statement to open the national conversation about mental health.

This year’s ad campaign highlights the need to watch the way we talk. Bell will contribute 5 cents for every Text message sent and every mobile & long distance call made on their networks. And they will add another nickle for every Tweet using #BellLetsTalk and every Facebook image share – even if you are not a Bell customer.

Last year, that came to nearly 110M texts, calls, tweets and shares, raising just under $5.5M.

There were 3 million tweets last year, making “Bell Let’s Talk” the #1 Twitter trend in Canada and #3 worldwide.

Let’s aim to beat last year’s totals.

Communications competitors TELUS, Rogers and Wind Mobile have added their support to the Bell initiative on Twitter:




Seizing the opportunity

Last summer, I wrote a brief blog post called “Regulating the internet” suggesting it may be worthwhile for some academic researchers to take a look at the impact of regulating internet content in Canada, from such perspectives as economic and social policy, cultural issues, etc.

Are we restricting the evolution of creative business models and innovation through regulation?

  • Internet Traffic Management Regulatory Policy (Net Neutrality)
  • Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
  • New Media Exemption Order
  • NFL Mobile Content Decision
  • Others? (such as digital copyright, lawful access, etc.?)

Yesterday, I saw an article by Brian Fung of the Washington Post, seeking to explain “How the cable industry is trying to reshape the economics of the Internet“. He writes, “As it waits for the regulatory shoe of net neutrality to drop next month, the cable industry is going on the offensive.”

As I read the article, it struck me that internet services in the United States could be on the verge of some very heavy handed regulation.

In launching a countdown clock, American Enterprise Institute asked, “Will February 26, 2015 mark the death of Internet freedom?“, referring to the upcoming vote by the FCC on its Open Internet process. In the view of AEI, “Title II reclassification of ISPs would cripple our nation’s dynamic and thriving Internet ecosystem.”

If the US moves to apply new regulations and government intervention in internet access and network management and interconnection services, what opportunities might arise for Canada?

Will Canada see such moves as an opportunity to lead or will Canada’s regulatory and policy authorities follow suit?

A number of sessions at The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit [June 1-3 in Toronto] will be well suited to discuss these issues and more:

  • On Monday morning, June 1, a panel of world leading telecom policy economists and academics will be exploring “Competition in Telecom”
  • That afternoon, another panel will examine “Cyber Security”
  • Tuesday morning, June 2, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff will be speaking about global internet governance in a talk entitled “One Internet or Thousands: Preserving the World Wide Web in a Diverse Globe
  • That session will be followed by our always popular “Regulatory Blockbuster”, featuring Canada’s leading regulatory affairs personalities
  • Wednesday morning, June 2, has a panel looking at “Internet of Things: Hyperconnectivity
  • Wednesday afternoon explores the video revolution in a session we are calling “Coming to Any Screen Near You”
  • Our closing speaker that afternoon will be Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women.

How can Canada seize opportunities for competitive advantage in the emerging digital economy?

Be sure to join us at The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit.

Early bird savings are available through February 28.

Have you registered yet?

Preventing a fragmented internet

A Reuters story from the World Economic Forum caught my eye. The story was headlined: “At Davos, fears the Internet will devolve into a fragmented mess.”

Yet even as the Internet has become embedded in modern life, its interconnected nature has come under attack from interests ranging from governments to corporate brands decrying copyright abuses or fearing cyber attacks such as those at Sony.

Seeking to fill these breaches, national governments, courts and regulators are pressing for local controls that could “Balkanize” – or fragment – the network.

Michael ChertoffFormer Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, will be addressing these kinds of issues at The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit, taking place June 1-3, in Toronto. His remarks will address “One Internet or Thousands: Preserving the World Wide Web in a Diverse Globe.”

Mr. Chertoff is a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, a two-year initiative launched in January 2014 by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Chatham House, to produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

As the Reuters story describes, there is a risk that the global Internet is fragmenting, with different countries controlling their own versions. This has raised concerns about the free flow of information and innovation, risks to human rights of free expression, and barriers to global commerce and economic prosperity.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance is seeking to recommend a model that promotes the continued existence a free and accessible global Internet into the future.

The objective of The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit [June 1-3, Toronto] is to deliver thought provoking presentations from the prime movers of the industry.

The Canadian Telecom Summit gives you the chance to hear from and talk with them in both a structured atmosphere of frank discussion and high octane idea exchange and schmooze in a more relaxed social setting of genial conversation.

Early bird rates are available through February 28. Register now to save more than $200.

Bridging the income divide

According to its three-year plan, later this year the CRTC will launch a proceeding to examine what should be considered basic telecommunications service.

The CRTC will initiate a comprehensive review to determine what services (e.g. voice and broadband) are required by all Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy and whether there should be changes to the subsidy regime and national contribution mechanism.

In general, the subsidy systems we have in Canada have been based on geography without regard to financial needs. We subsidize rural telecom service, trying to deal with higher cost of providing service to such regions. That has been the basis of the “contribution” subsidy regime for traditional local telephone service. Industry Canada has given out hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the cost of providing internet service in rural and remote regions.

These subsidies go to everyone in the region, not just those who have a financial need.

Such an approach is politically attractive. Oversized ceremonial subsidy cheques create a number of photo ops for politicians: at the time of the announcement; when construction starts; and, when service launches. All of the households in a given region get a handout, whether they need or not, so all of the households are grateful to the politician who delivered savings.

On the other hand, low income Canadians, who tend to be concentrated in urban areas across the country, have no programs to help them pay for service. Prices that seem affordable to most Canadians, may be out of reach for those who are living from week-to-week, let alone month-to-month. All of us may complain about the price of service – who wouldn’t like lower bills for everything – but more than 80% of us have computers at home connected to the internet. As I have written many times, there are too many low income households that don’t have a computer, let alone a broadband connection.

Canada needs to make changes to its approach if we want to bridge the gap between those who can and those who cannot afford to participate in a digital economy.

In the United States, there is “Lifeline“, a program that provides targeted discounts on monthly telephone service, funded by the universal service fund (USF). The USF is somewhat analogous to Canada’s National Contribution Fund in that it is funded by a levy on telecommunications service provider revenues.

Two and a half years ago, the US cable industry launched “Connect2Compete” to increase adoption of connected computers in low-income households with children. When asked about such a program in February 2013, Christian Paradis (the Industry Minister at that time) said “the CRTC has jurisdiction over this.”

A program that targets low income Canadians won’t directly deliver votes to the government; the recipients of the program benefits are too widely distributed across the country. Still, it is the right thing to do.

A Thomas Friedman interview with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos is worth watching to gain insights from the 91 year old Nobel Laureate. Peres talks about the need to invest in long term societal change, believing strongly in investing in education, especially science: “You cannot escape poverty without science.” Later in the interview, he says that in the future, countries won’t be counting how many square miles they have, but rather, how many scientists they have per square mile.

It seems to me that you cannot deliver science education without access to modern communications services. For Canada to be a leader in a global digital economy, we need to expand the inclusiveness of opportunity to those Canadians who are economically disadvantaged.

Delivering subsidies based on financial need will stimulate the demand side of the adoption equation. Increased demand will in turn, stimulate supply, without advantaging one supplier over another.

Targeting low-income Canadians may not deliver votes as directly as a series of photo ops in rural communities, but it is the right thing to do. That’s what I would vote for.

Hyperconnectivity: shaping digital relationships

The theme for The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit [June 1-3 in Toronto] is “Hyper Connectivity: Shaping Personal & Business Digital Relationships.” As more of our appliances, vehicles, devices and things get connected to a global backbone, there are fundamental impacts on infrastructure, operations and human resources to manage the digital interaction.

Our “Internet of things: Hyper Connectivity” panel on June 3 will examine these themes.

The confluence and integration of mobile, cloud, analytics, social media, and apps under the larger banner of IoT (The Internet of Things) are rapidly reshaping the competitive nature of economies around the world. An IoT economy that is projected to be around $9 trillion globally by 2020, according to IDC research.

As more devices get connected to the Internet from cars, health sensors, grids, transportation, to large-scale manufacturing and smart cities—the sum of data offered by such a connected world is growing exponentially. Cisco Systems estimates that approximately 12.1 billion Internet-connected devices were in use during April 2014, and that figure is expected to grow to above 50 billion by 2020. Businesses are increasingly leveraging this cumulative intelligence to increase scale and scope, rapidly reshaping our digital economy to an intelligence economy.

This panel is a rare opportunity to hear from key industry and policy makers on how best to position Canada in this impending connected economy and address the various catalysts to better shape services for Canadians and help businesses respond to global markets, among these are: telecom infrastructure needs, knowledge & talent, trade policies, access to capital, culture of organizations, others.

The panel will be moderated by Namir Anani, the CEO of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council. We are pleased to have confirmed Shared Services Canada CEO Liseanne Forand and Siemens Canada CEO Robert Hardt to be on that panel.

Internet of Things: Hyperconnectivity

Wednesday June 3, 2015: 11:00 am

Namir Anani (moderator)
President & CEO
Liseanne Forand
Shared Services Canada
Robert Hardt
President & CEO
Siemens Canada

As Canada’s largest purchaser of communications services, Shared Services Canada is consolidating the Government of Canada’s 50 wide-area networks (WANs) into a single enterprise network; establishing a shared network infrastructure in office buildings that house multiple departments; and securing and optimizing connections to the Internet. As Shared Services works to generate savings while improving service and security for the Government of Canada, it will be interesting to learn how the agency is helping government prepare for opportunities enabled by hyper connectivity and the internet of everything.

Siemens, a global engineering and electronics conglomerate is leveraging the internet of things, deploying an IoT architecture in its manufacturing processes and product quality assurance, as it becomes able to analyse data from sensors, machines and manufacturing processes.

These are just 2 of the industry leading speakers who are going to be at The 2015 Canadian Telecom Summit, June 1-3, in Toronto. Check the website frequently to see the latest additions to the agenda.

Have you registered yet? Early bird discounts are available until February 28.