Canada should be striving for 1 Gbps symmetrical Internet for everyone

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Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, recently presented to the Standing Committee about the recent findings of the Office of the Auditor General, which stated that there is no plan or budget for rural broadband infrastructure.   

His speech to the Standing Committee shows the weakness of his leadership and the Commission's inability to understand the problem. Aiming at 50/10 Mbps would have been a good target in 1998. The target should be 1 Gbps symmetrical dedicated Internet with QoS for under $50 per month for all Canadians.  

Striving for this goal would put Canada on a track to compete with our better connected peer nations. It would mean a farmer's precision Ag app could connect to the cloud, while her daughter uploads her homework, her son is streaming a video and her husband is receiving a diagnosis from his doctor. And millions of other Canadians are doing similar things at the same moment. Hundreds of millions of Internet sessions and applications will work properly each and every time because every Canadian will have a fibre-optic connection at home and work, and a 5G connection when they are on the move.

This is a target worth shooting for and is achievable. Because every Canadian must have equitable access to the Internet as it is a determinant of one's equal access to healthcare, education, government and marketplaces. Legislators need to understand that ubiquitous and equitable access to the Internet is an economic imperative.

Every Canadian connected like this would result in reduced commuting to work and increased telecommuting. This would lower GHG emissions and reduce wear and tear on transportation systems leading to lower capital and operating costs to support our roads and transit systems.

Every Canadian would be online to find a job, start a business, talk to a customer or a supplier, or connect to their enterprise network. This would increase productivity, employment, consumer surplus and GDP. Every Canadian student could upload their homework, take a course remotely, collaborate with scholars from around the world. This would increase graduation rates, better preparing Canadians to compete globally while reducing costs for student centred education.

Every Canadian could receive healthcare monitoring and diagnosis at home leading to better health outcomes while reducing costs for delivering patient centred healthcare. Every Canadian would access government services online at their convenience while reducing the costs of one-window services.

Legislators and regulators need to connect these dots so all Canadians can equitably connect to the Internet. This means we need policies, programs and funding to achieve ubiquity. Our individual and collective economic prosperity and social well-being is at stake.

Campbell Patterson