Progressive Canadian Telecom Policy Views

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Finally finished reading ‘For Sale to the Highest Bidder: Telecom Policy in Canada’, put out by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. I had come across it last fall while starting to do some investigation into spectrum issues in Canada.

My main interest was the chapter ‘Spectrum Matters: Clearing and Reclaiming the Spectrum Commons’ by Graham Langford. Sadly, this chapter was very topical when written in 2007/early 2008 but not so much after the 2008 spectrum auction in Canada.

I’m still looking for an estimation of the economic activity that can be generated by maintaining some prime low-frequency spectum as unlicensed access but shielded from interference from other frequencies. As more frequency is reclaimed during the conversion to digital television broadcasting, there’s a real opportunity to drive innovation in wireless services.

While appropriate to auction most of the spectrum to industry to support the growth of mainstream access, keeping some as unlicensed could help development of new wide-band and squirt technologies that can be scaled by telcos and cablecos for use on their portions of licensed spectrum. It’ll be good to watch what Industry Canada does in their upcoming spectrum auction in the 2500 MHz and 700 MHz bands.

While Langford’s chapter wasn’t as relevant as hoped, I did gain a little more from Andrew Clement and Amelia Bryne Potter’s ‘Internet Infrastructure for All: Time for Canadian Municipalities to Step Up!’. My hometown of Coquitlam’s efforts with QNet to provide improved fiber-based backbone access and bandwidth strikes me as a good step. Municipalities can help minimize the capital costs involved with fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-business by piggy backing other civil works such as sewage and street works.