Why is the Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Association interested in broadband?
Our goal is to:
- Identify how access to affordable and reliable high-speed broadband will enable economic, social and environmental goals of the region
- Identify the potential to enhance a regional network of broadband infrastructure to leverage municipal investments and enhance business access
Access to reliable, affordable and high-speed broadband services are a driver of economic development. All three pillars of broadband, reliability, affordability and high-speed access, are required for municipalities long-term economic growth.
Additionally, having access to advanced telecommunications infrastructure can enable new ways of providing community services, reduce environmental impacts and improve public safety. The trend to connect everyday devices to the internet is enabling municipalities, businesses, and residents to find new ways to improve business practices, lower costs, improve health outcomes and support seniors aging in place.
While there are many benefits from having access to broadband, we should also look at some larger questions when it comes to the linkage between economic development and broadband infrastructure. Questions to ask are:
- Does it support investment attraction?
- Does it support municipal service delivery?
- Does it support existing both business and residential needs?
- Are prices competitive to retain technology-driven enterprise or home-based entrepreneurs?
- Is there a diverse and dynamic marketplace of service providers?
Canadian regulatory landscape – loss of competitiveness over time:
The Canadian telecommunication sector has undergone significant landscape changes in recent years. Toward the end of 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission declared broadband internet a ‘basic’ service for Canadians. The term ‘basic’ refers to a change in regulatory classification, like how telephone services became regulated in 1976 and are regulated today under a ‘basic service objective.’
Increases in demand for, better and faster internet services today and the growth the Internet of Things, the connectivity of more everyday devices to the internet, is driving investment in next-generation broadband infrastructure. This infrastructure includes technologies like high-speed fiber internet, advanced fixed-wireless internet, and mobile data technologies.
In Canada, telecommunications providers have implemented a strategy to slow investment in new, next-generation infrastructure. Investments that are being made by telecommunications providers are in urban areas with higher densities.
As a result, Canada has lost ground over the years as measured by international studies in economic competitiveness. Canada once ranked 2nd in internet connectivity compared to our international peers, but today Canada ranks among the more expensive countries in the G7 in every category but one, according to a 2015 OECD report.
If you would like to see highlights of the report, please see the summary from Michael Geist, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law. This concern has prompted regulatory changes at the Federal level.
The CRTC wants competition on price of services
” Access to broadband internet service is a vital and basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive…The availability of broadband internet, however, is an issue that can’t be solved by the CRTC alone. All levels of government must address gaps in digital literacy. Affordability concerns are best addressed by the emergence of a dynamic marketplace where service providers compete on price for [internet] services.” Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman, and CEO, Canadian Ration-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC):
In the past, as is still the case in many Canadian municipalities, telecommunications service is enabled by what access is available to private networks, resulting in facilities-based competition. According to the CRTC Chairman, a dynamic marketplace requires service providers to compete on services prices, as opposed network infrastructure competition.
What can be done differently in the region?
Today, as in the past, the CRTC has promoted a market-based approach to telecommunications service delivery. Therefore, we will see market-based investment in areas of high population densities. We see this happening today as Alberta telecommunications firms are making investments in high-density areas.
Another market-based approach to telecommunications infrastructure investment will yield similar results. We can expect to see a next-generation digital divide between the urban and rural centers’ access and pricing for next-generation broadband, thereby continuing to limit our national competitiveness.
Regional collaboration might identify a means to speed up the pace of investment through innovative investment strategies or identify business cases to support a regional utility or utility public-private partnership. Efficient, reliable and affordable high-speed broadband is an enabler of economic development.
Provincial broadband strategy underway
The Government of Alberta is surveying Alberta municipalities regarding a provincial broadband strategy.
While there is no existing provincial strategy, the Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for the Alberta SuperNet has advised municipalities to look to the regional model to enhance broadband.
Canadian Internet Registration Authority Network Test and Map
Take the test, compare your network speed to those around you, and see an interactive map of Canada’s internet network speeds by clicking here or on the map below.
What is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Internet Performance Test?
The CIRA Internet Performance Test (IPT) is a quick and easy test of the speed and quality of your Internet connection on Canada’s Internet Infrastructure. With one click you can determine the following:
- Download speed (how fast you can transfer data from the Internet to your computer)
- Upload speed (how fast you can transfer data from your computer to the Internet)
- Ping (how fast your data travels from your computer to the test server)
- DNSSEC Capability (the ability for your computer to use the DNS Security Extensions)
- IPv6 Capability (the ability for your computer to connect with the latest Internet Protocols)
Take the internet performance test by clicking here.