Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
This week, I was a panellist at the Canada 3.0 conference in Stratford, Ontario. I was also at Canada 3.0 last year – it’s a great event that brings together some of Canada’s best and brightest to talk innovation in the digital space.
The panel was organized by Jim Roche (.pdf) from CANARIE, and the topic discussed was the development of a sustainable digital infrastructure for Canada. If you were at the Canadian Internet Forum, you’ll likely remember that Jim participated in our expert panel.
I posted my slides to CIRA’s Slideshare page. But even better, here’s a peek at a couple of items I talked about.
One is Canada’s place in the latest OECD’s broadband rankings. Where we were leading the pack 10 years ago, we now rank near the bottom.
To illustrate this fact, we’ve created this map which was widely tweeted and discussed online this week.
The bottom line is that we are dropping behind our global counterparts and if we really want Canada to be a digital leader, we need to make some investments pretty soon.
Why is broadband speed and price so important? Because if we are to attract international investment in the Canadian digital economy, or if we are trying to grow Canada’s digital economy from within, we need to make sure our digital environment is attractive. Our currency in that market is broadband speed and price. Let me put it this way: imagine a company like RIM or Intel announced a new product. If this new product operated a half the speed and cost twice as much as the competition, would you buy it? Of course not. So why would we expect tech businesses to locate in a country where they have to pay twice as much for slower broadband?
I was hopeful that Industry Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy would have addressed this, but with the recent election, I fear we may not see that document for quite a while. Rumour had it that it was to be released in May. I hope the newly re-elected Conservative government will stick to that timeline, but it’s not likely.
During my presentation at Canada 3.0, I also announced the release of the final report from the Canadian Internet Forum (CIF). The CIF was a national consultation we held last year that culminated in an event in Ottawa this past February. We talked to more than 400 Canadians, mainly experts in their fields, about what Internet-related issues were on their mind, and this report provides a great reporting of that information. I encourage everybody to read it. We will also be continuing the CIF discussion this year – stay tuned for more details.