Increasing digital adoption

One of the most important messages I heard at The Canadian Telecom Summit last week was the need to change our national focus on the digital economy from supply to demand.

By Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017, every Canadian will have access to¬†25 megabit per second broadband at a price point comparable to offers that are in our urban centres today. Almost all Canadians will have access to speeds in excess of that. What that means, is that the 5 Mbps objective set out in the Digital Canada 150 strategy papers can now be seen as a minimum target for entry level broadband. Many Canadians will choose speeds far in excess of the 5 Mbps minimum, but a wide range of speeds (from 5Mbps through gigabit rates)¬†needs to be an¬†important component of our strategy. Choice helps drive digital adoption. Choice of service providers, choice in services: both are indicators of competition, lead to increased investment and better customer service.

The challenge for policy leaders is in developing a better understanding of the factors that keep nearly one in five Canadian households from subscribing to a broadband service. As I said in my opening remarks last week, we have historically had government programs that spent money based on where people lived, without considering the individual financial needs.

Too many low income households are without computers. I have been especially concerned about what FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel calls the Homework Gap – the inability of kids to complete their classroom requirements because they don’t have adequate tools at home. That ends up holding our educational efforts back for all of our kids.

We need to find ways to increase adoption among all Canadians, young and old, urban and rural, across the full economic spectrum.

My opening remarks included 5 points that should be part of campaign platforms going into the election this fall. Each of those points calls for increased adoption: increasing digital literacy and connectivity in low income households; eliminating the Homework Gap; increase ICT adoption in business; increase digital delivery of government services; increase consumer confidence in digital security and privacy.

Our focus needs to turn to driving increased adoption, moving faster to 100% of households online, engaging with each other, with businesses and with government, especially in improving the quality and efficiency of health care delivery.

As Canada approaches its 150th birthday, targeting 100% adoption should be the main objective for our digital strategy. Driving demand will help ensure investment continues on the supply side and improve the efficiency of delivery of government services.

My vision for Digital Canada 150 is getting to one hundred percent digital adoption: 100% for 150.

What do you think?

Scroll to Top