Monday, October 19, 2009

Canadian Broadband's Poor Rating

In a recently released report commissioned by U.S. regulators, Canada, compared to other leading nations, rates very poorly in areas such as national broadband adoption, network capacity, and prices.

Employing results from a detailed survey conducted by Harvard's Beekman Center for Internet and Society, Canada ranked a disappointing 22nd place overall out of 30 countries. Japan, Sweden and South Korea ranked highest in the survey. The United States placed 13th in the survey.

The survey was commissioned as a basis for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create a national next-generation broadband plan.

Broadband service is viewed as a key factor to enable economic growth that can benefit a wide range of intrinsic services in areas such as telemedicine and management of transportation and energy systems. It can also greatly reduce infrastructure costs for businesses.

European nations support open-access policies to spur competition among service providers. Open access allows new companies to lease lines from a network owner. This has proven to be a highly effective method of promoting competitive pricing to the consumer market. Currently, both the U.S. and Canada have yet to adopt this policy. Both nations rely upon competition between cable and phone companies to develop better and cheaper services. The Beekman Center study concludes that this method is highly ineffective for the short and long term of the industry.

Canada's CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications COMMISSION) did implement open access rules in 1997 but, by allowing network owners to charge the highest lease rates on the planet, the CRTC effectively hampered any positive development. With rates as much as 70% higher than some nations, open access did not progress in Canada.

With a rating that has continued to decline over the last decade, Canada must seek to revamp its broadband policy if it wishes to compete with the world.

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