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    CRTC Chair Calls Out Bell Canada For Failing on Rural Broadband Commitments

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    Wednesday June 06, 2012
    CRTC Chair Len Katz called out Bell Canada and Bell Aliant yesterday for failing to extend broadband to dozens of rural communities across the country as required by a 2010 decision. Katz noted that in August 2010 the Commission directed the large phone companies to spend over $420 million from their deferral accounts on extending broadband to hundreds of rural communities. While MTS Allstream and Telus appear to be on track, Bell Canada is not. According to Katz:

    Unfortunately, it's a different story with Bell Canada and Bell Aliant. Nearly two years after we issued our directive, Bell has extended broadband service to only three of its 112 communities. Broadband service is more and more of a necessity for full participation in the digital economy and in our life as Canadians. The funds were collected over a number of years from Bell subscribers. I urge our friends at Bell to give a higher priority to the needs of the people in these rural and remote communities by accelerating their rollout plans.

    The deadline to complete the broadband rollout is 2014. The deferral account case involves hundreds of millions of dollars collected by large telephone providers as surplus funds. In 2010, the CRTC ordered a portion be refunded to consumers and remainder spent on broadband services.
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    "Objective Sanity Check"?: Canada Slips Further in Global Broadband Rankings

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    Wednesday February 01, 2012
    Akamai has released its latest State of the Internet Report and it finds that Canada continues to slide in global broadband rankings. Last year, the Akamai report was often favoured by those who took issue with criticisms of Canadian broadband, claiming it offered "an objective sanity check" on comparative broadband speeds. If so, even Akamai now finds Canadian broadband declining when compared to other countries.

    Just six months ago, Canada was tied for 9th in average broadband speed. According to the latest report, Canada now sits tied with Hungary for 14th behind countries that include the United Arab Emirates, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Ireland. On the peak connection speed, Canada ranks 19th in the world. The data isn't very impressive on the mobile broadband metrics either. The mobile broadband speed measured carriers around the world including one Canadian carrier. The Canadian carrier ranked 68th worldwide for average broadband speed, below carriers in every region of the world.
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    Akamai's State of the Internet: Canada Drops to 13th for Broadband Speeds

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    Wednesday October 26, 2011
    Akamai has released its latest State of the Internet report.  The report ranks Canada 13th worldwide for average broadband speed, down from a tie for 9th in the last quarter.
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    ITU Report Says Canada Slipped to 26th Worldwide in ICT Development Index

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    Friday September 16, 2011
    The International Telecommunications Union yesterday released its Measuring the Information Society 2011 report, which benchmarks information society developments worldwide.  The centrepiece of the report is the ICT Development Index, which tracks 11 different indicators focused on access, use, and skills (the eleven indicators are: fixed telephone line subscriptions, mobile subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth, households with a computer, households with Internet access, percentage of individuals using the Internet, broadband subscriptions, mobile broadband subscriptions, adult literacy, secondary and tertiary enrolment). Among the indicators, skills are worth 20 percent, while access and use count for 40 percent each. The news for Canada was not good as we fell from 20th in 2008 (the last time the ITU issued its report) to 26th worldwide today. Topping the list was South Korea, but Canada finds itself behind much of Europe, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and several other Asian countries. 

    While the National Post's Terence Corcoran tries to cherry pick  one indicator - Internet use - to argue that the report shows Canada as a leader, he actually gets it wrong as the report shows Canada in 13th spot, not 2nd as he suggests (pages 154-55 of the report provides the full breakdown showing Canada behind South Korea, the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands among others). Canada's rank on the access and use indicators:

    Indicator
    Canada's Rank
    Percentage of individuals using the Internet
    13th
    Fixed broadband Internet subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
    14th
    Active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
    57th
    Fixed telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
    12th
    Mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
    111th
    International Internet bandwidth Bit/s per Internet user
    24th
    Percentage of households with computer
    13th
    Percentage of households with Internet
    17th

    It is hard to see how anyone can look at these results and conclude that Canada is a leader in ICT development. Canada ranks outside the top ten in every indicator and an incredible 111th on mobile subscriptions and 57th on mobile broadband. The reality is that virtually every neutral survey or study over the past several years has had other countries leapfrogging ahead of Canada as we reap the results of a missing national digital strategy, restrictions on foreign investment, and ongoing competitive concerns.

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