Canada Needs Broadband Boost to Remain Competitive

The quality of Canadian internet access continues to decline in comparison to that of other countries. See, for example, previous Slaw posts here and here. This while high speed access is more increasingly considered crucial for the economy, competitiveness and innovation – even to the extent that many feel that the internet is a fundamental human right.

The Canadian government talked about a digital strategy in its recent throne speech, but so far we don’t know what that translates to.

Contrast that with what is happening in the US. The US FCC just announced an aggressive plan to upgrade internet access and speed. The FCC says “Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.”

And Google plans to build trial locations to bring fiber to the home in at least 1 US city with speeds of 1 gigabit per second. (That’s over 200 times faster than we get at home now.) Google draws parallels to the space race.

University of Waterloo president David Johnston is quoted in a CBC article saying:

“There’s a lack of understanding that ICT [information communications technology] is a transforming set of technologies, as important as the printing press was 500 years ago. Because Western Europe understood the transforming qualities of the printing press, it took off. Chinese society, Islamic society and Indian society did not,

We are at least in that kind of measurable comparison today. Those societies that have a better understanding of the digital economy will prosper very quickly and those that don’t will not. We’ve had a failure of imagination there.”

In a keynote address at a recent emarketing seminar at Fanshawe College, Mitch Joel said that history will look back on this time period as a renaissance. Digitization and connectivity are resulting in fundamental changes in the way we work and live.

We can’t afford to be on the sidelines for this.


  1. A recent report from Ookla, a broadband speed testing company, names South Korea to have the fastest broadband with 34.19Mbps of average data transfer speed. Latvia, Republic of Moldova, Japan and Sweden follow. Not just recent times, even way back in 2004, there are reports which state that Koreans enjoyed broadband speeds of 8Mbps, which many countries in the west are still unable to achieve. Two of the main reasons attributed to the success of broadband in Korea is effective competition between the various ISPs and the government’s vision of modernising the infrastructure of the country.

  2. I completely agree. Considering one European country has recently made access to internet a human right, I think Cananda needs to buck up it’s ideas and join in!