Response to Globe & Mail Article on Rural Broadband in Canada

April, 5 2010 | WireIE Holdings International | Strategist and Author

The article entitled, “Canada’s Digital Divide” by Iain Marlow and Jacquie McNish appeared in Saturday, April 3, 2010′s Globe & Mail Report on Business section.

This is a passionate topic for us at WireIE so our President & CEO Rob Barlow decided to write a letter to the editor, as well as participate in the live blog discussion on Monday, April 5, 2010.

Our Letter to the Editor

I read with great interest your article “Canada’s Digital Divide” by Iain Marlow and Jacquie McNish.

While referring to the time required to load a static web page serves well at making an important point, it is important to note that the accelerating trend toward the consumption of Internet-delivered rich multimedia will place significantly greater demands on networks going forward. The bandwidth problem certainly isn’t going away and is indeed, becoming a greater challenge in rural areas.

There are a number of tools that can address the rural broadband disadvantage. WiMAX, for example, is a broadband wireless technology that has proven itself in bridging the digital divide in many parts of the world. In fact, there are over 500 WiMAX networks in over 145 countries. Many of these of these are in the developing world, meaning that rural Canada many actually lag certain areas of the rural developing world.

I propose the Federal government do an inventory of available broadband wireless technologies (such as WiMAX) and establish policies that make rural deployment a more profitable venture. The barriers need to be reviewed so this productivity and economic disadvantage to rural areas can be resolved for good. For example, backhaul license fees make many rural deployment business models not feasible. These, and other related fees need to be factored into the discussion in light of the fact the rural disadvantage is affecting Canada’s GDP.