The Globe and Mail’s editorial on Monday, “Canada’s Broadband Lag” refers to a new report from Harvard University’s Berkman Center. That editorial appeared the same day that I wrote about investment in broadband by all sectors of the industry.
As my regular readers know from the numerous criticisms of the preliminary Berkman report [such as here, here and here], Berkman’s approach was flawed from the outset. The final version of this study should receive a failing grade for allowing its political agenda to interfere with a sound academic approach to contribute to understanding the state of broadband development and usage in the US and the rest of the world. That was its mandate from the FCC.
Instead, the Berkman authors discarded evidence that didn’t fit with the pre-conceived policy framework that it elected to promote.
Recall that one of our criticisms asked about the inconsistency of Videotron’s 50Mbps service. The final report mentions our criticism in a footnote. Videotron, the largest ISP in Canada’s second largest province is categorized by Harvard as a “marginal provider” and the province of Quebec is an “uncompetitive remote market.”
Among my favourite sections is where the authors appear to recognize the problems with using the OECD figures as their source, but say that there is such a rich history of data that there is value in examining the trends. Like getting compost from all the garbage, as we wrote last fall.
The Globe and Mail editorial writers may not be reading news that appears on the pages of its own business section, to check facts in its editorial.
Canada ranks with Poland, Hungary and Mexico as laggards in the availability of 3G, which allows the distribution of video content over mobile phones and to new devices such as Apple’s iPad.
The GSMA lists 17 HSPA mobile networks in the world operating at 21 Mbps. Three of them are in Canada, the only 3 in North America.
As I wrote yesterday, there is tremendous investment in fixed networks as well. Bell Aliant has introduced fibre to the home (FTTH) in two of Atlantic Canada’s major cities. Bell has announced a large scale project for FTTH in Quebec City. Novus has launched 200Mbps FTTH-based service in Vancouver. Shaw plans to trial FTTH-based gigabit per secons service. All of Canada’s cable companies already have technical capabilities to deliver faster than 100Mbps broadband, without tearing up the streets or stringing overhead fibre.
These investments are being made by the private sector for competitive reasons, which contradicts the highly interventionist policy approach being advicated by the Berkman Center.
For Canada to win in a global digital economy, our country needs to establish our own national vision that looks beyond the often-flawed and out-of-date statistical rankings of broadband infrastructure. What we need to understand is why so many Canadian households still don’t have computers; why Canada is lagging in scientific research; and, how we should best promote the development of Canadian content and applications.
These are the more complex issues that call out for national policy leadership.
As I have mentioned over the past week, The 2010 Canadian Telecom Summit will have special sessions on Tuesday, June 8 that look at International Perspectives on ICT Strategies, followed by a session looking at Building Digital Canada. Early Bird rates for The Canadian Telecom Summit are available until the end of this week.
Have you registered yet?