Canadian Government’s New Digital Strategy Suffers from ‘Appalling Lack of Ambition’

Canada’s federal government today outlined its new strategy for ensuring most Canadians have access to internet and wireless services that are secure and affordable.

Called the Digital Canada 150, Industry Minister James Moore showcased the strategy, which includes 39 initiatives, in Waterloo this morning.

However, Vancouver-based organization OpenMedia is calling the strategy “warmed-up leftovers from previous government announcements” and believes the new strategy means Canada “will likely fall even further behind its global counterparts on Internet affordability, access, and speed.”

“The government has had years to get this right, which makes today’s unveiling all the more disappointing,” commented OpenMedia’s Executive Director, Steve Anderson. “This reads like the digital strategy for the last five years—not for the five years ahead.”

For example, the government has backtracked on a 2011 CRTC commitment to ensure every Canadian had 5 Mbps broadband access by 2015. The new strategy pushes back that target date to 2019, and merely promises that most (98%), but not all, Canadians will be covered—700,000 Canadians will be left behind.

Meanwhile, the US plans to connect over 100 million households to 100 Mbps broadband by 2020 and the EU is aiming for all Europeans to have access to 30 Mbps next-generation broadband networks by 2020—even Argentina has set a target for 97% of its citizens to have 10 Mbps access by 2015.

“This whole strategy suffers from an appalling lack of ambition,” he added. “Although there are some positive proposals here, all in all Canada will still be left playing catch-up with the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to Internet access and affordability.”

“It looks like we’re set to fall even further behind our global counterparts,” Anderson continued. “The government has no excuse for inaction; the resources are ready and waiting from the recent $5.2 billion wireless spectrum windfall to deliver the connected future Canadians deserve.”