Last year, I commented “Never before have I wanted to wrap up a year like this one.” I am much more optimistic this year. I have just returned from my first overseas trip in nearly two years, having had an extended visit with family. Spending time with grandkids has given me a renewed optimism for a return to semblance of normality.
There is something especially refreshing about the optimism and simple naïveté of children.
This marks the 10th year that I have entitled my year-end wrap-up with lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game”.
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, ‘When you’re older’ must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
Many of you know that I was in Israel for the past month. There is a story about an old man who had been praying at the Western Wall twice a day, every day, for a very long time. A journalist heard about this guy and went to interview him. She learned he had been coming to the Western Wall and praying for more than 50 years. “I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews, and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop. I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to love their fellow man. I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people ahead of their own interests. And finally, I pray that everyone will be happy.” And the journalist followed up asking “How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?” He responded, “Like I’m talking to a wall!”
In some of my posts, you may detect a certain level of frustration and impatience. That may be due to my age. Forgive me as I find myself sometimes turning into my grumpy old man persona, while still trying to be optimistic that someone out there is reading my rants, and maybe, just maybe, taking some action with an improved understanding of the issues.
So as a result, I know that I have been critical of the often glacial rate of progress on expanding broadband to underserved communities and increasing adoption among those who are not yet online. But I continue to be optimistic about the overall direction in which we are heading.
Still, there is so much more we need to learn about the factors impacting the decision to go online. It isn’t a simple matter of price, as I discussed in a post last April (The broadband divide’s little secret). The subject is ripe for serious academic study, trying to understand (and overcome) the barriers to adoption among certain communities.
Looking back at the past year, I see that there have been 113 blog posts, slightly above the 2020 level and continuing to run significantly higher than the pre-pandemic pace. I reached a few milestones in 2021: celebrating 41 years of work in the telecommunications sector; launching a new design for this blog (and my website); writing my 3000th blog post (there are now roughly 3040 searchable posts available in the archives); and, in a dozen days, celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, with kids and grandchildren who are an immense source of pride and inspiration.
As I noted last year, despite difficult pandemic-induced operational and financial hurdles, Canada’s communications industry delivered world leading services that enable most Canadians to manage their lives and livelihoods. Many of those challenges continue.
A year ago, in his closing remarks at The 2020 Canadian Telecom Summit, Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said “I want to close by saying that these have not been easy times, but they have shown just what Canadians and our industries are made of. At no time have I been more proud of being the Minister of Industry.” Last month, at the 2021 edition of the Summit, Bell Mobility president Claire Gillies echoed those sentiments and added, “we kept the country running. We seamlessly kept people connected to the things that mattered to them most through the last couple of years.”
The power, the capabilities and the reach of our telecommunications networks are often taken for granted; we simply expect them to work through inclement weather, power blackouts, localized emergencies. Over the past 20 or so months, we have stress tested the utility of those networks as the world transitions in and out of a hybrid of physical and virtual presence. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the power of those virtual connections.
History will look favourably on how Canada’s telecom sector rose to meet and overcome the challenges of delivering service excellence throughout the past two years. It is why I continue to take pride in being a part of the telecommunications industry, a sector that is helping drive Canada’s economy toward better times and a more normal, prosperous future.
I wish you and your families a happy, healthy, safe and peaceful holiday season.
I look forward to engaging with you in the New Year.