Canada’s innovation gap can (and should) be closed

Speakers at the 2013 Canadian Telecom Summit react to recent decisions by the CRTC and Industry Canada. Find out what Allstream’s chief corporate officer added to the dialogue

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In light of the recent announcements that shook the Canadian communications world this week, to say that there was a tweak in focus for many presentations and keynotes at this week’s 2013 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto would be an understatement.

This was especially true for the industry panel session entitled “Regulatory Blockbuster.”

Featuring a who’s who of the Canadian communications industry — John Lawford (PIAC), Mirko Bibic (Bell), Ken Engelhart (Rogers), Ted Woodhead (TELUS), Edward Antecol (WIND) and MTS Allstream chief corporate officer Chris Peirce — the focus of the regulatory and policy discussion focused heavily on the new wireless rules handed down by the CRTC.

While the incumbent debate waged back and forth on consumer issues around pricing, tower sharing and the pending wireless spectrum auction, on the enterprise network side of things, Peirce honed in on Canada’s “ICT productivity gap” and how Canadian firms are currently lagging behind U.S. counterparts in terms of network innovation.

In particular, Canadians are failing to keep up in terms of competitiveness, and in adopting newer IP voice technologies — we’re woefully inadequate compared to the United States.  It’s a gap that gets wider every year: according to Peirce, the “consumer” as described by CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais also refers to Canadian business consumers as well — and competition isn’t what it should be.

“The investment by Canadian business in ICT infrastructure is about half of what it is in the United States. That’s a trend that’s been around for a while and is getting worse, not better,” said Peirce. “It’s a problem for us of course, because innovation is what drives competitiveness, productivity and better results for business and our economy.”

Indeed, the Conference Board of Canada recently gave Canada a failing grade — second to last among its peers — in venture capital investment and business R&D spending.  In addition, the recent biennial Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) report had a similar finding: Canada ranks 25th out of 45 nations in terms of “technology, innovation and research and development investment.” In fact, Canada’s ICT investment is down one per cent compared to the previous year, according to the STIC report.

Moving forward, Canadian firms should be looking at VoIP/SIP services to facilitate business revenue growth. While competitive, optimized networks will be mission-critical to future economic growth, Peirce added Canadian firms aren’t properly equipped for the digital and information age; investment continues to lag and companies are looking for greater choice in networked service offerings.

“The CTRC needs to look more closely at what’s happening in the business market,” said Peirce, adding “ubiquitous new fiber networks across this country” are needed, and that Canadian service providers should be looking at providing a diverse range of network offerings that give organizations a level of choice — making Canada more competitive and productive in the process.

“When business can make that choice . . . . they can experience all that IP can deliver, where voice is just a cheap application that you work with, not a dedicated line where you’re paying twenty or thirty bucks a month ad infinitum,” he said.

The 2013 Canadian Telecom Summit wraps up on Wednesday.

For more ideas on taking enterprise IT to the next level, download, ‘The  Converged IP Network: Your Future Productivity Depends On It,’ a white paper from Allstream. 


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    The fundamental mistake in Canada is to believe that investment is the answer …….SR&D obsession is just one example.

    Look instead at Theory of Innovation and Axiomatic Design by Nam Suh …and maybe go back and watch again Dragons’ Den October 8 2009.

    Regards from Sweden
    Alias Sir George the Dragon Slayer
    Knighted in Canadian Dragons’ Den 2009

    Brian Keedwell / 10 years ago
  2. I think the gutting of primary manufacturing including 500,000 jobs in Ontario, Quebec in founder run companies modeled after Magna, Linamar etc. (they bought up a few), combined with growth of NEW “innovative” sectors like as melting tar with hot water, big box retailing, big brand fast food, banking financial services, telecom and working for the Canadian subsid of a US headquartered multi-national – has lead to the perfect storm of high expectations and low wage growth. Add in huge personal debt for the under 35 group- the risk takers- and very low new job growth and you’ll find it difficult to get someone to speak up at a sales meeting- never mind “innovate or invent” something.

    CANADA’s innovation GAP vs USA – 50%.

    However, there is growing evidence that the under 30’s are considering starting their own business, including manufacturing, software etc. and NEW immigrants or the sons and daughters of are starting up new companies to solve problems and SELL to OTHER countries.

    -Shopify? Halogen”

    They will need MORE, BETTER TECHNOLOGY such as on demand cloud apps, etc to compete against the 2 billion others who want in to the middle class and will work 100 hrs a week to get it + have access to ALL these SaaS productivity tools we are reluctant to BUY:.

    500,000 Canadians start business in 2012 CIBC study.

    Eventually, we will HAVE to.




    Stuart Armstrong / 9 years ago