CATA, i-CANADA Ask Prime Minister to Use Review to Create New Broadband Policy Model to Deal With Usage-Based Billing, Service Provision
February 2, 2011

Ottawa, February 01/11 -- The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) and i-Canada, an initiative to connect Canada with ultra-fast communications praised the Prime Minister's decision to review the recent decision of the CRTC to allow usage-based billing delivery.

“We have an opportunity here to pause and reset the button on communications in Canada,” said CATA President John Reid.  “We need to collectively resolve issues such as usage-based billing within the framework of a larger national plan.”

CATA and i-CANADA both indicated recently that they are in favour of a considered and unified approach to the development of a workable model for infrastructure development in Canada.  “Fast and affordable communications is vital to society as well as business,”  noted Mr. Reid in a Communique issued January 31, 2011. 

“Our i-CANADA program can use this time to work with the PMO to facilitate the development of a “New National Dream” that would be based on a consensual approach to accelerate the development of connected communities,” said Bill Hutchison, Chair of the i-CANADA program.  “We need to bring the players together to facilitate Canadian global leadership through the use of ultra-fast intelligent communications and collaboration within communities to reach new levels of economic, environmental and social growth and prosperity.  This dream is being threatened by a start-and-stop policy environment in Canada.

 “We need a firm consensus in Canada on what our ‘baseline’ of acceptable speed and cost is,” said Mr. Hutchison.  “Businesses need to plan, communities need to build jobs, and residents need access to services such as online health care and education.”

Conflicts like the one over usage-based billing can only be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction if Canada has a strategy for broadband development:  “The old model where the private sector is expected to pay for infrastructure development from their profits, has greatly changed,” indicated Mr. Hutchison.  “Now that communications is a ‘commodity’, it no longer affords the same level of profit to the telecommunications companies. 

"We need a new model for infrastructure development.  We have good momentum, but we need a national debate to be able to resolve the broadband issue."