January 22, 2018

Adopt ‘Global Broadband’ to Save Innovation, Rural Communities, Says Smart City Expert

Toronto, January 23, 2018:  Addressing the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, i-CANADA Alliance Chair and member, CATA Innovation Leadership Council Bill Hutchison called for Canada to define a new term, ‘Global Broadband’ as its target for the level of broadband necessary to compete globally in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. He also advised the appointment of a federal ‘Broadband Steering Committee and Chair’ to make the changes real.

“Our ability to be among the world’s innovation and productivity leaders is gated by the speed of our public communications networks,” stated Mr. Hutchison. “We have a few islands of excellence although we are particularly weak in rural and remote areas of Canada.  We should be a world leader in broadband performance – a goal that requires a significant leap forward. In this age of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Canada’s ongoing prosperity requires a commitment to faster digital transformation which implies a major step forward in our public communications networks.  There is no reason why we can’t be among the top three leaders in the world on a comparative basis and for that reason I’m defining Global Broadband as the average of the top three comparative performers in the world. Comparative means separate comparisons for urban, rural and remote areas.”

“Kudos to our federal and provincial governments for their major investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G, Innovation Super Clusters and the Smart Cities Challenge to support research, education and transformation. Some broadband support programs exist or have been announced but the administration and flow of funds is generally slow or nonexistent.  The problem is the present size and rate of implementation of necessary funding to fix our Broadband Deficit will never allow Canada to catch up because of the rapid rate of industrial and societal transformation globally.  We have a substantial Broadband Deficit and a dramatic new innovative approach is required to fix the problem and then support the necessary ongoing investment to keep up.

“Right now, we are struggling to catch up and in many cases, our network services are behind by a factor or ten and even one hundred times compared to those in the world’s leading regions and cities. We need to seriously jump ahead.  Smart Communities with fast networks set the pace for continuous transformation, job creation, incoming investment and prosperity.  Our spending needs to match the spending on our other infrastructure services.

“Our combined annual healthcare costs for example exceed $200 billion per year. The availability of Global Broadband communications could save us more than $10 billion per year in health care costs. We can have Global Broadband throughout Canada for a one-time investment of $50 billion.  It would pay for itself in five years through healthcare savings alone. The icing on the cake will be increased national competitiveness, new incoming investment and prosperity for our citizens.”

“To support the necessary dramatic action and “make it happen” our federal government should consider appointing a ‘Broadband Steering Committee and Chair’ to collaboratively create a plan to achieve Global Broadband throughout Canada.  Such a Committee would be responsible for identifying all broadband spending programs and opportunities across Canada as input for its plan.  The goal should be to ensure all of Canada has Global Broadband within a reasonable timeframe, say five years.  “There is no Plan B here,” concluded Mr. Hutchison, “The global marketplace is increasingly competitive and “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” centred on intelligent machines may overwhelm us sooner than we think.  Smart communities are the best battle-grounds for sustainable future growth and Global Broadband services are their new roads and highways.”

Mr. Hutchison was Chair of the 250-person National Steering Committee that collaboratively created the seven-year billion-dollar business plan to establish CANARIE, CANADA’s world leading national research, innovation and education network connecting our academic and research institutions and he was Founding Board Chair of CANARIE Inc when it was incorporated. CANARIE solved a lack of effective national communications between our universities and for the past twenty-five years the CANARIE infrastructure has consistently been among the world’s leading academic, research and innovation infrastructures. Bill also led the creation of Waterfront Toronto’s prize-winning fibre gigabit community communications infrastructure which, in turn has helped stimulate incoming investment of $13-billion.

Recently, Mr. Hutchison joined the Board of i-Valley, a not-for-profit based in Nova Scotia that is helping to transform ten rural communities.  “We are doing things that are world-leading,’ confirms i-Valley President Terry Dalton.

Canada’s One Voice for Innovation lobby group agrees: John Reid, President of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) says his organization’s Innovation Leadership Council has been pushing the innovation-broadband connection continuously.  “Organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the Centre for Digital Entrepreneurship and Economic Performance tell us that we are at an innovation standstill,” stated Mr. Reid.  “Until we achieve Global Broadband we can expect no changes to that picture.”

For a copy of Mr. Hutchison’s presentation please contact:

Barry Gander
, Co-Founder, i-Valley

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