Mark Goldberg


A national digital consultation

Canada’s Industry Minister Tony Clement released a discussion paper and announced a national consultation on the digital economy. A welcome message from Industry Minister Clement describes this as being part of a bigger process toward developing a national action plan:

This consultation is the next step in developing the right environment for the greater adoption of digital technology. After it is complete, we take the results into account as we develop an action plan to address the digital issues facing Canada now and in the future.

In his remarks at the Canada 3.0 conference in Stratford, Minister Clement said:

Canada can and should be a leader in the global digital economy. Nothing prevents us from being the best place in which to invest, grow a digital business or create digital content for the world.

Now is the time for the private sector to step up. To contribute its ideas. And then, when the digital strategy is in place, implement the game plan.

I noticed that Statistics Canada released its 2009 Canadian Internet Use Survey yesterday as well. It has a few interesting observations that we can examine over the next little while. I suspect that the timing was not coincidental, especially given that the survey was sponsored by Industry Canada. Among the first things that caught my eye was the continued dominance of cable over wireline telephone company connections for broadband. Cable continues to be the choice of 52.9% of households while telco connections dropped from 38.5% in 2007 to 32.8% in 2009.

Many of the first user comments on the Digital Economy website focus on plumbing – the supply side of broadband. It seems to me that the conversation needs to get much broader.

People have talked about setting a moonshot vision for Canada in the digital world. As I wrote last month, the US didn’t put a man on the moon by setting a vision to build a Saturn V rocket.

The vision needs to be broader. As Minister Clement said, we need to look at “how best to encourage the greater adoption of digital technologies.” Demand side drivers, not just supply-side incentives. Ensuring leading edge infrastructure is a necessary, but not sufficient enabler of Canada’s global leadership. Adoption of ICTs, development and protection of content, skills. There are a range of issues to be explored.

Tuesday June 8 at The 2010 Canadian Telecom Summit will feature a number of sessions that examine these issues. Minister Clement will deliver the opening keynote address on June 7.

Have you registered yet? Download the complete conference brochure here [pdf, 1.2MB].

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