[Geist]: Canada’s Telecom Policy Review

I recommend reading Michael Geist’s article in today’s Toronto Star about the recent report of Canada’s telecommunications policy review. A good summary of the headlines, but more importantly, insight about the parts the mainstream media missed. If you aren’t up on current issues around net neutrality, broadband access and its implications for culture and citizenship I highly recommend paying attention to Geist’s work.

My comment to his blog (title cut off, why no comment preview?) was to link this telecom policy review and the role of the CRTC in an open network world to the questions surrounding the recent announcement by Toronto Hydro Telecom to pursue ubiquitous municipal WiFi in Toronto.

Is it time to consider broadband a public utility?

The question of accessibility, openness and neutrality become much more critical in an open-network marketplace for ideas and culture. If the barriers that the CRTC has maintained for a generation to foster and cultivate a place for Canadian voices and culture in a big media broadcasting world are coming down or made irrelevant by an open-network social-media society, this has massive implications. I believe that the barriers to access for every Canadian need to come down along with those regulatory barriers. In fact, I would say that removing barriers to access are a precondition to removing regulatory barriers for the telecoms.

To my mind, broadband accessibility should be a critical concern for both cultural and economic reasons. Without broadband access to every harbour in Newfoundland or farming community in Saskatchewan, the broad diversity of Canada’s culture and the voices and point of view of its people will not be part of the social media conversation. Thankfully, as the Toronto Hydro Telecom example shows, the technologies for ubiquitous broadband are becoming more cost effective all the time, and public utilities have a role to play in filling out the gaps in the net.

I welcome anything that articulates this issue and raises its profile in the public debate. What’s your POV?

UPDATE: Check out this post by Om Malik on EU broadband efforts. Canada is doing quite well compared to the US. We are competing with Europe and Asia. Don’t get me started on South Korea.

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Blog Day 2: Shel says Hi

The amazing power of the social network, conversational and community aspects of blogging were made vividly clear to me with my second post on this brand new blog of mine, when I pinged a Shel Israel post and got a really nice welcome to the conversation mention on Shel’s blog.

Suddenly I am a participant in the conversation, which existed before my entry and will exist long after I’m gone. It’s validating and a reality check at the same time. Being open, transparent and prepared for criticism is one of the tenets of the social media world. And attention, while nice, is also fleeting.

I have often worked away on my ideas in isolation, collecting data, writing a paper or report, refining it before delivering the final product. I like that my ideas and point of view benefit from the scrutiny of a self-selected community of experts who can be anywhere. It is clarifying and I believe it will produce a better product.