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Canada: Still Waiting for a Digital Strategy
Source: ComputerWorld Canada
Source Date: Thursday, January 03, 2013
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Internet Governance
Country: Canada
Created: Jan 07, 2013

When it comes to a national digital strategy, 2013 begins exactly as it did 12 months ago – with the country waiting for results.

It was May, 2010 when the Harper government announced its intention to create a plan to build a world-class broadband infrastructure for all Canadians which will enhance digital skills, boost Canadian-created digital content and help the nation compete against others who have already set lofty targets.

That plan was close to being announced when the Conservative government called an election in the spring of 2011.

Since then Industry Minister Christian Paradis (pictured abovre) twice promised the digital strategy would be released by the end of 2012.

December came and went with no explanation from the minister on why he couldn’t reach his target.

This week the department’s director of communications was unavailable for comment and referred questions to Industry Canada’s media relations division.

Most industry observers believe a digital strategy should include a national broadband speed goal which may or may not need government funding to ensure rural and northern parts of the country will have access to the same high speeds as urban areas.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has said telecom carriers should offer all Canadian households the ability to buy Internet access with download speeds at least 5 Mbps by 2015.

Today some cable carriers here offer 200 Mbps in a limited number of cities. However, some countries are thinking of building networks that can reach 1 Gbps in the near future so citizens can take advantage of services like telemedicine.

A digital strategy should also include ways the government will ensure there is enough wireless spectrum to meet expected demand, cybersecurity and open government.

Some of those elements have been partly address by the Harper government – for example, it has an open government policy. However, its cybersecurity plan was recently hammered by the auditor general.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has embarked on a digital strategy with several prongs. At the heart is a national broadband plan created in 2012 by the Federal Communications Commission – which combines the power of a telecommunications department and regulator – and approved by Congress.

(By Howard Solomon)
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