Digital Infrastructure Summary

The telecommunications industry has gone through a major shift towards next generation networks, which provide dramatic improvements in speed, functionality and integration of services. Ubiquitous wireless networks bring the promise of distributed mobile computing and communications, and rapidly evolving mobile technologies are enabling new mobile devices and applications. However, in a number of respects, the fundamental economics of the industry have not changed. Telecommunications service provision is still subject to strong economies of scope and scale and large sunk costs can act as barriers to entry.

Facilities-based competition is resulting in network upgrades and faster broadband services being offered to Canadians, and wireless providers have launched high-speed wireless networks. Despite these continued investments, there is concern over Canada's performance in certain measures, such as broadband and mobile wireless pricing and real-world download speeds. The key question is whether domestic progress is fast enough for Canadians to be leaders in the global digital economy.

There are a number of important levers guiding networks development. Key factors include the frameworks government puts in place to encourage investment and competition. Providing timely access to radio spectrum for wireless services is critical given the tremendous growth predicted for wireless broadband usage. Deployment of cutting-edge services for Canadians living and conducting business in rural and remote regions tends to lag that of urban centres, so ensuring they are not left behind is an ongoing concern.

Addressing these and other challenges will require the concerted efforts of all stakeholders. We seek your views on how to deliver next generation connectivity so that Canadians can capitalize on the opportunities of the digital economy.

Discussion Questions

  • What speeds and other service characteristics are needed by users (e.g., consumers, businesses, public sector bodies and communities) and how should Canada set goals for next generation networks?
  • What steps must be taken to meet these goals? Are the current regulatory and legislative frameworks conducive to incenting investment and competition? What are the appropriate roles of stakeholders in the public and private sectors?
  • What steps should be taken to ensure there is sufficient radio spectrum available to support advanced infrastructure development?
  • How best can we ensure that rural and remote communities are not left behind in terms of access to advanced networks and what are the priority areas for attention in these regions?

Notice

The public consultation period ended on July 13, 2010, at which time this website was closed to additional comments and submissions.

Between May 10 and July 13, more than 2010 Canadian individuals and organizations registered to share their ideas and submissions. You can read their contributions—and the comments from other users—in the Submissions Area and the Idea Forum.