Canada has been identified by the OECD as a laggard in broadband performance falling to 25th of the 30 OECD countries in terms of broadband cost and performance. The main cause is believed to the regulatory structure in Canada and the nature of duopoly service delivery. Geography is also likely a factor.
Most of BC’s rural communities are now being served with some Internet access thanks to the Connecting Communities Agreement initiated by the Government with Telus, but the targeted 1.5 Mbps data rates are now far below that of a single household in urban BC. Asian countries now have, or are installing, fiber to the home technology resulting in 100 Mbps service to each household & business. We are falling behind.
In order to keep BC current in communications technology, maintain a competitive modern economy and end the digital divide between rural and urban citizens, we need to create a shared fiber-optic asset pool throughout BC to bring the following benefits:
1. Increase Broadband Internet access and improved business communications throughout BC, especially in rural areas.
2. Increase GDP growth.
3. Increased Crown Corporation revenue through leasing of assets to other entities and/or reduction in communication capital needs by accessing the fiber pool.
4. Create a shared communications infrastructure available to the Provincial Government, BC Hydro, other levels of government and also to telecom carriers and independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for the benefit of individuals by bringing improved broadband capability to rural communities.
The BC Government policy actions to accomplish this are:
1. Mandate that all fiber-optic cable assets of Crown Corporations be available on a pooled basis to all public entities and also be available at a fee to private commercial entities for the provision of broadband services.
2. Create an (PPP) entity to manage, maintain and grow the use of this shared fiber-optic cable infrastructure.
3. Direct BC Hydro to consider all reasonable and cost-effective opportunities to increase its available fiber-optic assets as it grows its Smart Grid, Smart Metering, modernizes its network infrastructure and constructs new transmission facilities.
For more details on this idea please see the background document or contact Lee Vishloff.