ICT firms slow to advise Ottawa on digital strategy

Canada should boost the economy by setting up an advanced broadband innovation testbed for industry and researchers to develop and test digital-based products, Ottawa has been told.

The submission by a group including CANARIE, which runs one of the nation’s high speed networks for university and hospital researchers, is one of only a handful from organizations to the federal government, which has been looking for public advice since mid-May on creating a national digital economy strategy.


Executive summaries of submissions are posted on a federal Website, but with the deadline for submissions only two days away (July 9), there are no entries from the big names in Canadian information technology and communications.


Missing are entries from Research In Motion, Microsoft Canada, Hewlett-Packard Canada, IBM Canada, Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., Telus Corp., as well as corporations that would take advantage of a digital strategy such as banks, manufacturing firms and national retailers.

A Telus spokesman said Wednesday the telco will file a submission by the deadline. A Rogers spokesman said its submission will be filed Thursday. Microsoft Canada said its submission will be in on Friday.
An Industry Canada spokesman said Wednesday that the government knows that it will be getting a lot of last-minute corporate submissions.

In the March throne speech the Harper government said it wants to create a digital economy strategy to drive the adoption of new technology.

“Key challenges that we face in moving forward include: the adoption of digital technologies in all parts of the economy; the competitiveness of Canada’s digital industries; the state of our digital infrastructure; our ability to create Canadian content for a global marketplace; and ensuring that Canadians and businesses have the skills and knowledge to participate in Canada’s economy of the future,” a government background paper said in part.

“These challenges must be addressed with coherent and collaborative action to help increase Canada’s productivity and ensure our future prosperity.”

The CANARIE group said that its “innovation testbed” would share much of the existing physical CANARIE network, traffic would be isolated using advanced virtualization techniques.

It would allow the testing of next generation LTE wireless data networks, storage and
computing resources, various sensors and tools, the submission says. Virtual slices would be allocated to those requiring it to advance the creation of next generation “smart technologies”, such as smart IT networks, smart buildings, smart cars, smart energy grids and smart cities.

“It is a relatively cost-effective method that leverages some existing infrastructure and ongoing government investments to provide Canadian innovators with an environment to develop and test a multitude of innovative digital applications,” the report says.


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