Mark Goldberg


www.mhgoldberg.com





The Canadian Telecom Summit

Fox Group Dispatch

Toward a national digital strategy

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?

11 comments to More calls for digital strategy

  • Brian G.

    Way to go Mark! Keep up the good work. Maybe, just maybe, the pressure will start to build on our politicians and they’ll come to realize that the resolution of the issues you have identified, and others related to a national digital strategy or the digital economy are key to the future economic and social well-being of Canada. Some how or other the need for a national digital strategy has to get on the agenda of all political parties and/or become an election issue whenever one is called or becomes necessary.

  • Leichel

    There are so many things I would like to say, but won’t, as there isn’t the time nor the space. However, to have the G&M be so uncritical in its conclusions, to take a report from the US, whose researchers may not have even visited Canada or know its particular market characteristics (eg, how can you compare Japan with Canada, just on population density and geography alone?), is a prime example of lazy journalism at its best. Once can only hope that the bureaucrats at Industry Canada will have a more nuanced view and can inform the Minister accordingly.

  • Michael C

    “For Canada to win in a global digital economy, our country needs to establish a national vision that looks beyond the often-flawed 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.

    , vice-president, public affairs, Rogers Communications Inc.,”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/broadband-brickbats/article1479239/

    YOU wrote:

    “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.”

    Why don’t you just have the Rogers logo tattooed on your forehead? You’re nothing more than their spokesman

  • Bob

    Hey, yes in some place, fast broadband like 50+mbps is available… But at which price??? 150$ a month?! Do you really think there aren’t competition issues?? How much do you get from BHell and Rogers to say that Canada’s internet is good?

    The solution is to split Bell into 2 pieces: ISP and network. Then, we’ll have some serious sompetition. And the CRTC should be runned by INDEPENDANTS people, not affiliated with any big providers.

    Of course we do not want 23 fiber optics lines in our streets, we want only one fiber, but leased at a reasonnable price to any ISP who want to provide access to end customers. Look at France, this is the best example. THey have triple play (internet, phone, tv) for about hte same price for internet only here.

    Triple play competition is impossible without strong regulation. Network access must be guaranteed to all companies.

    And duopoly is NOT competition. Thanks

  • Abattoir

    Umm – I hope you can explain the plagiarism here, Mark. This seems to be pretty much word-for-word from some Rogers talking points.

    Unless you are the one who has been plagiarized here (pretty hard given the timing, but not impossible), you definitely lose points for trying to pass off another’s words as your own.

  • Mike

    Good going Mark..

    You’ve been exposed, [deleted by editor]!

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Canadian-ISPs-Fire-Up-Attacks-On-Canadian-Broadband-Critiques-107097

    Pull your head out the sand and realize we are screwed with only Bell and Rogers running the show and with their hands in the CRTC’s pockets.. shoddy speeds, service, prices and the god-aweful caps we are subjected to due to the lack of ANY competition in this country. These speeds and FTTH services you talk of is YEARS away for majority of this country, which is other counties is here today.. and when we do get it, we will be paying through the nose for it – $50 for 10/1 service with 65GB cap? Give me a break..

  • Abattoir

    Thanks for the private clarification, Mark. I retract my comments above.

  • I did not plagiarize the letter to the editor.

  • Matt Tucker

    I am not sure how serious we can take some of the so called claims of the “greatness” of Canada’s broadband scene. One, as much as they may claim 3G+ speeds of up to 21mbps, the actual average speeds are going to end up being substantially lower. In addition, even if it was normally quite close to the top speed, what benefit is that to a customer with a 5G cap on their usage? Higher speeds and bandwidth are supposed to help give us more access to data intensive services such as high quality video, which hopefully will lead to more adoption of things like video conferencing, but what is the use when one would max out their allowed monthly usage so quickly?

    Also how can you claim the greatness of Bell Aliant introducing FTTH in Saint John and Fredericton, when there has been no word of any FTTH rollout in Halifax, which has a much greater total population, and a greater population density than both of the other cities, which should mean Bell Aliant can get more “bang for their buck” from deployment in Halifax. In addition, Eastlink has made no real moves or mention of plans towards DOCSIS 3.0 introduction.

    The reason then, for the “highly interventionist policy approach” is because if left to their own devices, these private companies are only improving and expanding their services after they have made as much revenue as possible off of the current infrastructure. The government needs to force the innovation, because otherwise we are going to continue to fall behind much of the rest of the world, in speed and pricing, especially given how simple it is to search the internet and find plenty of examples of 50-100mbps internet being offered for $10-30 a month.

  • Residential Internet User

    Can anyone explain why, in a residential telecom market as large as Southern Ontario, after a decade of DSL deployment, we still can’t get services like http://www.free.fr/adsl/index.html at a similar price? (And one could also cite similar deals elsewhere in Europe and Asia.) “Laggard” surely describes the situation for Canadian residential telecom customers very well!

  • […] of Mark H. Goldberg & Associates responded to the criticism of the Canadian Internet sector, saying: For Canada to win in a global digital economy, our country needs to establish our own national […]