Mark Goldberg


www.mhgoldberg.com





The Canadian Telecom Summit

Fox Group Dispatch

Canada’s innovation scorecard

What gets measured gets done.

A few years ago, in a post called “Building a digital economy dashboard,” I cited a Peter Drucker principle: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Scorecards or operating dashboards are basic, yet important management tools.

The Canadian Government is focused on an innovation agenda, as I noted last month in “Building an innovation economy.” Massive levels of expenditures, frequently called “investments” in the government press releases, are being made in schools and businesses across the country.

How do we measure the effectiveness of this spending? The CRTC’s Basic Service Objective decision describes some of these measurements: what percentage of the population has access to high speed broadband connections? How many have access to an unlimited data plan?

The CRTC’s regulatory policy opened with the statement “This decision sets out the actions the Commission is taking to help meet the needs of Canadians so that they can participate in the digital economy and society.” But what was notably missing was any action to increase basic adoption among vulnerable low-income Canadians, or low-income households with school children.

the Government of Canada is currently examining these affordability issues in the context of its Innovation Agenda. As the Government of Canada has stated, everyone has a role to play. In the Innovation Agenda, ISED indicated that Canada must do more to give rural communities and low-income Canadians affordable high-speed Internet access services so that they can participate fully in the digital and global economy for a better quality of life. As stated in the Commission’s submission to the Innovation Agenda, the Commission supports concerted efforts from a variety of stakeholders as essential to making progress in this area and encourages other stakeholders to follow suit.

The issue of broadband adoption by low-income Canadians figures more prominently in the CRTC’s submission to the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda consultation in the form of a letter dated December 21 from the CRTC Chair to ISED Minister Bains. The day before that letter was released, the CRTC gave approval to Bell’s acquisition of MTS broadcast distribution undertakings. Two months later, ISED granted approval to the Bell, MTS transaction. As I noted last week, the CRTC and ISED missed the opportunity to have a low-income broadband solution developed for Bell and MTS territories.

Recall that during the hearing that led to the Basic Service Objective determination, CRTC Chair JP Blais interrupted the proceeding and said “Every day that goes by without a more robust Canadian broadband strategy means a Canadian who is socially and economically vulnerable continues to be profoundly disadvantaged.”

What gets measured gets done. Having a broadband strategy simply isn’t enough; we’re long overdue for setting an objective for universal adoption by low-income households with school-aged children. It isn’t enough for broadband to be available; every household with kids needs to be online.

My “Building an innovation economy” post referred to the Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum (WEF) [pdf, 12.2MB], where Canada’s ranking dropped in the past year from 13th to 15th place. An objective might be to improve Canada’s standing in certain international indices, but that should be a result of achieving independent objectives.

How should Canadians measure our innovation agenda? How do we define and measure success? How do we know that we are heading in the right direction?

The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit [June 5-7, Toronto] will look at “Competition, Investment and Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future.” Early Bird savings for conference registrations are in effect until the end of February. Register now to save.


[Update: February 22, 2017] ICTC has announced an initiative to develop a national measure for digital innovation. In the next couple of months, ICTC will be producing white papers and consulting on the specific parameters that go into building this national digital innovation indicator, guided by four key factors: Innovative Climate Index, Innovative Capacity Index; Innovation Outcomes/impact Index; Innovation Confidence Index.

200 reasons to act now

For 3 days, June 5-7, 2017, the leadership of the telecom, broadcast & IT industries will converge in Toronto to discuss the key issues and trends that will impact this critical sector of the economy. Join more than 400 of your peers, partners, suppliers, policy makers, regulators, customers and competitors in attending telecom’s most important gathering.

Now in its 16th year, The Canadian Telecom Summit has become the place for Canada’s ICT leaders to meet, interact and do business. As in past years, this year’s event will feature high-octane interaction, top-level keynote speakers and thought-provoking panel discussions. Plan to join us.

Competition, Investment and Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future
What kinds of communications infrastructure is needed to provide Canadians with a platform to excel in a global digital economy? How can communications services and applications be refined and developed with a goal for providers to offer choice and differentiated services to all Canadians? What are the characteristics of a policy framework that fosters the development of innovative new applications and technologies to deploy in Canada and offer around the world? What conditions are needed to encourage investment of capital and the availability of competitive communications services to Canadian consumers and businesses, regardless of where they are located? How can low income Canadians participate in a more inclusive digital future?

The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit’s keynote speakers and panelists will address these points, giving you a chance to hear about service deployment, what is in store for next generation business models, and underlying all of this, the technologies that continue to drive the industry forward.

The Canadian Telecom Summit always features cutting-edge topics for its panel discussions. This year, we are featuring sessions devoted to:

  • Cyber Security: Securing your data; protecting your privacy
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Disruptive Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future
  • Regulatory Blockbuster
  • Network Innovation & Service Delivery
  • Advanced Mobility & Internet of Everything: Innovation & disruption in services, devices and apps
  • and more

With so much public attention focused on telecommunications and the digital economy, no other event is quite like The Canadian Telecom Summit in covering the industry from every angle.

The Canadian Telecom Summit has something for everyone! Hear keynote addresses from senior executives from across the industry.

Meet with your suppliers, customers and colleagues for 3 full days of thought provoking interaction.

Save $200 by registering by February 28! Visit: http://www.telecomsummit.com/register

Special Networking Events: All participants are invited to join us for our annual cocktail reception Monday evening, June 5.

Continuing Professional Development: The time spent attending substantive sessions at The Canadian Telecom Summit can be claimed as “Substantive Hours” toward the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.

A missed opportunity

Yesterday’s approvals of Bell’s acquisition of MTS came with a plot twist that few anticipated. As a condition of government approval of the deal, 40 MHz of spectrum (in the AWS-1, 700 MHZ and 2500 MHz bands) is being transfered to Xplornet, Canada’s largest rural internet service provider, giving birth to a new entrant in the Manitoba market. Xplornet is also getting certain other incentives (under the terms of a consent agreement with the Competition Tribunal) to help it launch, including nearly 25,000 customers, retail stores, discounted advertising rates and expedited access to network infrastructure. Additional Bell/MTS customers will be able to switch to Xplornet without any termination fee (including not having to pay off the remaining device subsidy), serving as an incentive for Xplornet to launch quickly in the province.

The structure of the overall deal includes other measures that help ensure Manitoba will continue to have multiple carriers investing in building and upgrading networks and consumers will continue to have access to multiple brands.

The other interesting twist is found by looking at which network network infrastructure will carry each service provider’s traffic. Up until not, Bell and TELUS have shared use of TELUS infrastructure; going forward, Bell’s 90,000 subscribers in Manitoba will migrate to the MTS network which is also being shared with Rogers under the terms of a long term Network Operating Agreement. The TELUS network utilization is being restored through the transfer of 110,000 customers under the terms of the deal.

The deal brings a change in market dynamics as Bell moves from 4th to first place in Manitoba along with a commitment to maintain current pricing offers for at least one year. Perhaps with an eye toward Manitoba’s western neighbour, statements from the Competition Bureau also signal how similar deals might need to be structured to gain regulatory approval.

With all of its focus on wireless, it is disappointing that the government didn’t get a commitment from the companies to launch a broadband service to target low-income households in the province – or even to impose the condition across Bell’s entire service footprint. Low income services have been launched by TELUS and Rogers in their respective wireline serving areas. Unfortunately, neither the CRTC nor Innovation, Science & Economic Development used their approval process to get such an important service to be offered by Bell in Manitoba, Quebec or those parts of Atlantic Canada not already being served by Rogers.

As I said on Monday, “Set clear objectives. Align activities with the achievement of those objectives. Stop doing things that are contrary to the objectives. That takes leadership, not money.”

Unfortunately, this was another missed leadership opportunity for the government to bridge a gap in digital adoption, without spending any additional taxpayer money.

Innovation is the new digital

Barrie McKenna had an opinion piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, “In Ottawa, innovation is just a word in search of meaning.” It opens with “The Trudeau government is obsessed with innovation. It may not have fully embraced the concept yet, but it sure loves the word.”

The article observes that, despite the word “innovation” figuring prominently in so many funding announcements to every type of institution and business from coast to coast, “the government does not have a coherent innovation strategy.”

That’s not surprising. After all, the previous government engaged in a multi-year, multi-departmental digital strategy consultation only to produce a light weight document that read more like a campaign pamphlet, entitled “Digital Canada 150.”

In McKenna’s Innovation article, he says:

The coming budget is an opportunity for Ottawa to start getting its policies right. A good starting point would be to spell out what outcomes the government wants from its innovation strategy – clear and measurable targets. Then, it should spell out what it intends to do to help Canada get there, adding new programs where there are obvious gaps.

That sounds familiar. When digital Canada 150 was released, I commented: “Europe released a digital scorecard looking at where it stands on targets in its digital agenda. What does Canada’s scorecard look like?”

Over the past year, I have written a number of pieces (such as “Measuring success” and “Inconsistent messages; predictable turmoil” and “Building a digital economy dashboard“) that call for the government to provide clear, measurable objectives for our digital policy agenda.

However, I diverge from McKenna on one of his closing points, where he calls for “putting real money on the table. Canada is being outspent and outmanoeuvred by its trading partners.”

As I wrote a few years ago when Digital Canada 150 was released, success requires leadership more than money. “Set clear objectives. Align activities with the achievement of those objectives. Stop doing things that are contrary to the objectives.”

When I was first being shown around Bell Labs in the mid-1980s, my boss commented to me that success in our jobs wouldn’t depend on being in the office Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 5:00. You can’t say to a group of researchers “Today, we are going to invent the transistor.”

Succeeding in innovation means creating the kind of environment that attracts people who will innovate, fostering policies that encourage risk, and allowing success to flourish and be rewarded.

As politically appealing as it may be to spend government money under the guise of innovation, it is far more important to set those clear and measurable targets, as called for by Barrie McKenna.

“Set clear objectives. Align activities with the achievement of those objectives. Stop doing things that are contrary to the objectives.” That takes leadership, not money.

The theme of The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit (June 5-7, Toronto) is “Competition, Investment and Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future“. On Wednesday, June 7, Namir Anani, the CEO of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) will be hosting a panel at The Canadian Telecom Summit entitled “Disruptive Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future.” Have you registered yet?

3 weeks left to save

For 3 days (June 5 – 7, 2017), the leadership of the telecom, broadcast & IT industries will converge in Toronto for The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit. Join your peers, suppliers, policy makers, regulators, customers and competitors in attending the industry’s most important gathering, to discuss the key issues and trends that will impact this critical sector of the economy.

Other conferences promise but don’t deliver. Only The Canadian Telecom Summit allows you to hear from the leading ICT executives and influencers and provides the opportunity for you to interact with them and your colleagues. Don’t be disappointed by attending imitation events.

For 16 years The Canadian Telecom Summit has been the place for Canada’s ICT leaders to meet, interact and do business. As in past years, this year’s event will feature high-octane interaction, top-level keynote speakers and thought-provoking panel discussions.

Competition, Investment and Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future
How does Canada stake out a world-leading position in an increasingly digital world? What kinds of communications infrastructure is needed to provide Canadians with a platform to excel? What kind of policy framework will encourage investment and foster the development of innovative new applications and technologies to deploy in Canada and offer around the world?

As always, The Canadian Telecom Summit features cutting-edge topics. This year, we are featuring sessions devoted to:

  • Cyber Security: Securing your data; protecting your privacy
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Disruptive Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future
  • Regulatory Blockbuster
  • Network Innovation & Service Delivery
  • Advanced Mobility & Internet of Everything: Innovation & disruption in services, devices and apps
  • and more

The Canadian Telecom Summit has something for everyone, leaving no stone unturned in bringing you the most substantive and comprehensive line-up of speakers and topics. Hear from senior executives from across the industry.

Save more than $200 by registering by February 28. Book your place today!

Special Networking Event
All participants are invited to join us for our annual cocktail reception Monday evening, June 5.

Continuing Professional Development
Lawyers: The time spent attending substantive sessions at The Canadian Telecom Summit can be claimed as “Substantive Hours” toward the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.