Mark Goldberg


www.mhgoldberg.com





Fox Group Dispatch

#CTS17: Network innovation & service integrity

On Monday, June 5, my longtime colleague and friend, John Papadakis, moderated a panel at The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit that looked at Network Innovation and Service Integrity. John leads an executive advisory firm called Thinkedge, providing thought leadership and hands-on operational expertise to help technology-based companies accelerate their growth and drive business excellence.

He was joined on the panel by:
  • Shubh Agarwal, SVP Strategic Marketing, Metaswitch Networks;
  • Ibrahim Gedeon, Chief Technology Officer, TELUS;
  • Brenda Herold, GM Software Defined Infrastructure, Wind River Systems; and
  • Ashley Stephenson, CEO, Corero Network Security.

It is one thing to innovate in the network, it is an additional challenge to do so in the face of threats of cyber attacks, such as DDoS. To what extent can telecom service providers offer cyber defense as a service? The panel talked about the need to be willing to experiment, fail fast (and cheaply!) and try again.

Some top people discussing an important subject in an interesting way. I hope you find the video useful.

#CTS17: Innovating for success

On Tuesday, June 6, Len Waverman, Dean of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, moderated a panel at The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit that looked at Innovating for Success: At the cusp of the digital revolution.

He was joined on the panel by:
  • Christine Calvosa, Deputy CIO at the Federal Communications Commission;
  • Jack Mintz, President’s Fellow, School of Public Policy at University of Calgary; and,
  • Daniel Schwanen, VP, Research at C.D. Howe Institute.

As reported by IT World Canada, Jack Mintz asks at one point, “The telecom sector gets taxed 22 per cent in most cases, which is the third highest for any sector in Canada. If we truly believe in innovation and want to see ourselves be leaders in this field, why are we putting one of the highest tax rates on a sector so critical to innovation?”

I thought it would be beneficial to share the complete panel discussion with you.

Canada’s #HomeworkGap continues

This week, kids across Canada will say goodbye to teachers for their summer break from school. No more pencils, no more books…

For too many kids, pencils and books continue to be the basic tools for completing homework, which seems somewhat anachronistic in a country promoting a national innovation agenda. Too many Canadian households don’t have a computer, let a lone a broadband connection.

I know that the first “Back to School” promotions are still about a month away, but I continue to be troubled by the number of school kids who won’t have access to the digital tool set they need to do homework when they return to classrooms in the fall.

In BC and Alberta, TELUS offers its Internet for Good service; in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador, Rogers offers Connect for Success. Both programs provide qualified disadvantaged households with access to broadband service for $10 per month and both service providers help get a low cost computer and training resources for the household. As Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Minister Bains acknowledged in his remarks at The Canadian Telecom Summit three weeks ago, TELUS and Rogers deserve recognition for launching these initiatives over the past couple years. These were private sector ventures, launched without government prodding, because management at the companies agreed it was the right thing to do.

But what about Saskatchewan? Manitoba? Quebec? Nova Scotia? PEI? Hundreds of thousands of households in those five provinces have physical access to broadband available, but aren’t able to get online. Indeed, according to the CRTC, these provinces have the lowest rates of broadband adoption in Canada.

Try to imagine how a kid can do homework today without a connected computer at home. I have said it too many times: Affordable broadband isn’t just a rural issue. How can we continue to ignore the households in our urban centres while the CRTC effectively duplicates ISED funding programs for rural broadband expansion? Where is the leadership?

Before the summer is out, will at least one service provider in each province take on the challenge – the responsibility – of helping to bring connected computers into the home of every school kid?

A mandate letter for the new CRTC Chair

The Minister of Heritage has appointed Judith Larocque as interim Chair to “ensure the continuous and efficient operation of the CRTC.” The 4-month appointment will give the government a little more time to fill the increasing number of vacancies on the Commission and perhaps prepare a new mandate letter for the new Chair.

To assist in that process, I have blacklined the mandate letter that was given to the previous chair, underline indicates new text, strikethrough indicates deletions. I encourage you to add your comments to assist in crowd-sourcing the direction from the government to the new Chair.

The government is currently recruiting 4 positions to fill vacancies at Chair and among Commissioner positions at the CRTC. The government may want to refer to the CRTC’s website to see when the terms are expiring for a number of other Commissioners, in order to start the recruitment process a little earlier next time around.

DRAFT

Chairperson
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
1 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B1

Dear Mr Chair

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the position of Chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). You are appointed at a challenging time for the Commission. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this capacity. I am confident that your skills and experience have prepared you for the struggles ahead.

As you are aware, the CRTC is an independent regulator that operates at an arm’s length from Government. Within these boundaries, I hope that we can work together on issues of mutual interest, while maintaining an appropriate level of distance between our two organizations. Likewise, I want to let you know that my office door is always open should you wish to discuss any intersecting issues.

Conversely, please do not hesitate to push back when you detect political interference in areas that are clearly CRTC jurisdiction. I trust you will not wait until the end of your term to protest matters that can be dealt with in a more timely manner. In particular, if we cross the line, feel free to chirp back a reply message to “STFU.”

Over the years, I have watched the broadcasting activities of the CRTC and believe that the Commission could do a better job to ensure consumer participation and focus on its core duties. I would like to see the Commission comprehensively address consumer affordability and service complaints, ensure consumers are aware of and able to participate in broadcasting proceedings, and regulate broadcasting undertakings only to the extent necessary.

Please do not confuse click-tivist special interest groups with the broader consumer interest. Perhaps some of your social media promotional budget could be re-allocated to measure broader consumer sentiment.

Consumers should have access to more programming choices and affordable choices across all distribution platforms, including radio, television, broadband networks and mobile devices, as well as avenues for recourse. Consistent with the Broadcasting Act, the CRTC should ensure that regulation is targeted and transparent, and that alternatives to regulation are considered. In implementing the Act, the Commission should be mindful of the original intention of legislators.

With respect to telecommunications, the Government’s objectives are to promote competition, investment, innovation and consumer choice. Consistent with the Policy Direction and the focus on consumers through the establishment of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS), a light approach to regulation should be taken to achieve these objectives, with continued attention to consumer protection and participation. I really mean it: if we wanted the CRTC to ignore the Policy Direction, we would rescind it.

As you know, the Government recently tabled its Economic Action Plan 2012 which remains focused on an agenda that will deliver high-quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances. All over government we have been reducing expenses. As you know, the Government recently tabled its Innovation Agenda which remains focused on plan to create good quality, high-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it. In your administration of the CRTC I would like to see a strong commitment to look at expenses, set priorities and make choices resulting in greater efficiencies.

Please keep in mind the CRTC is a body of Commissioners, each of whom have been selected for their positions by the Governor-in-Council because of the perspectives and expertise they bring. I trust you will create an environment that fosters vigourous debate of issues within a climate of respect for all viewpoints, establishing a workplace celebrating the diverse mosaic that defines Canada.

I look forward to working with you in your new capacity.

Sincerely,

It is remarkable how much of the previous mandate letter continues to apply.

What else would you add?

Original Mandate letter to JP Blais from Heritage Minister James Moore

Developing Canada’s innovation policy

Professor Dan Breznitz, Chair of Innovation Studies at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, delivered a keynote address on innovation policy on June 5, 2017 at The Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

Professor Breznitz’s first book, Innovation and the State: Political Choice and Strategies for Growth in Israel, Taiwan, and Ireland, won the 2008 Don K. Price for best book on science and technology. His second book (co-authored with Michael Murphree) The Run of the Red Queen: Government, Innovation, Globalization, and Economic Growth in China, was chosen as the 2012 Susan Strange Best Book in International Studies by the BSIA, and was featured in The Economist and the New York Times. Dan Breznitz’s new book, Third Globalization: Can Wealthy Nations Stay Rich? (co-edited with John Zysman), looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by Western economies in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the rapid changes in the global production system.

This presentation should help provide some insights to guide development of Canada’s national innovation policy.