Thursday, November 30, 2006


How to sell a telecom vision

TPRCreating a vision for telecom policy reform was part of the theme of a posting a couple weeks ago.

How does Industry Canada get the average donut-eating-public interested in the report of the Telecom Policy Review panel in order to move the issue higher on the public agenda?

I mentioned two weeks ago that the report is a great recipe book, but many people may have trouble seeing what the end result looks like. I think that we have to show people a vision of tomorrow. The picture of some gourmet delight on the cover of the recipe book.

Let's take a look at parts of the executive summary of the report for to find a place to start.
The new objectives [of the Telecom Act] should focus on three broad goals:
  • promoting affordable access to advanced telecommunications services in all regions of Canada, including urban, rural and remote areas

  • enhancing the efficiency of Canadian telecommunications markets and the productivity of the Canadian economy

  • enhancing the social well-being of Canadians and the inclusiveness of Canadian society by meeting the needs of the disabled, enhancing public safety and security, protecting personal privacy and limiting public nuisance through telecommunications networks.
Not a bad start. Promoting affordable advanced communications facilities from Whitehorse, YK to Witless Bay, NF. That is something people can understand.

Enhancing the efficiency of telecom markets? I think that most members of the general would say: not my problem - don't care, until we translate improved telecom market efficiency into lower prices for telecom services.

We can certainly talk about productivity of the Canadian economy. People might be interested. Does that mean better jobs? Lower costs? Work at home?

The third goal is one that crosses political lines and will lead to active debates - there is something in there for everyone. Enhancing public safety and security sounds good - at least everyone has an opinion; protecting personal privacy and limiting public nuisance are important and difficult issues. We have recently seen the announcement of Canada's major ISPs agreeing to block content identified by to be illegal.

All of these are goals worth discussing. Issues worth debating.

Are we on the road toward raising the interest of the general public? How about you?

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How dare you refer to the public as "donut-eating". You, of all people, should not be generalizing a demographic population and criticising their intelligence.
I hope you meant that with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek. Otherwise, may I suggest a little more bran in your diet and less caffeine! Try the multigrain bagel with milk next time.

In case you haven't heard, we Canadians proudly love our donuts. I don't think this qualifies as hate speech, but I happen to be working on a piece that helps identify and more clearly define when speech crosses the line.
Two weeks ago in response to that posting I posted a comment that said "Before "we" go off defining our visions and selling telecom reform to the average Joe Canadian, one question that has to be asked is: who is/are the "we" you talk about?" In other words, who are the stakeholders? The list is certainly longer than just average donut eating an beer drinking Joe Canadian. There's also the service providers, all users - large and small, the manufacturers, intersted knowledgeable people like academics, lawyers, consultants, etc. as well as other levels of government and probably more. The question that has to be asked is whether or not the 3 objectives you quote in your posting satisfy all of their interests or at least best represent a significant part of their aggregate interests. One thing I don't see in those objectives is any reference to satisfying QoS standards for all stakeholders. It has to be kept in mind that "nirvana" for any one of the stakeholders will not be "nirvana" for the others. For the average Joe Canadian, I would think low rates, lots of competitors offering lots of choice in reliable and top-quality services by using modern, leading technology would be some of the things he/she would want. So, the question seems to be do the objectives in the Telecom Policy Review Panel's report represent the needs of all stakeholders and, therefore represent the "public interest"?

In other words, some more definition of the problem is in order I think.
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