YEAR IN REVIEW: October 2009

The CRTC just couldn’t seem to make anyone happy in October, except possibly BCE Inc. (TSE:BCE) and Rogers Communications Inc. (TSE:RCI.B).

First came the commission’s decision on the long-standing argument over traffic-throttling of wholesale ISP traffic. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) argued that throttling the service its members deliver to their customers by Bell and Rogers is an anticompetitive practice. The CRTC disagreed, allowing the majors to continue limiting the bandwidth of traffic using certain applications at particular times.

Then came the CRTC decision that Globalive Wireless, a cellular startup that earned wireless spectrum in the summer AWS auction, wasn’t sufficiently Canadian-owned to operate in Canada, leading to howls of outrage from telecom experts demanding changes to foreign ownership restrictions and a call for protests in the street from Globalive president Anthony Lacavera.

Nor was the CRTC the only government arms-length operation to land in hot water, technology-wise, in October. Ontario’s auditor general Jim McCarter released a scathing report on waste at eHealth Ontario, the agency charged with building an electronic health records system for the province. While the mainstream media decried what they called a $1-billion boondoggle, McCarter noted, in an exclusive interview with ComputerWorld Canada, that they had overlooked the fact that the megaproject, while certainly not cost-efficient, had indeed provided at least the infrastructure on which to build the EHR system.

In the wake of Oracle Corp.’s (NASDAQ:ORCL) deal to take over Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ:JAVA), the creator of open source database MySQL – which had, itself, been swallowed up by Sun earlier in the year – argued that Oracle ought to sell off the database. The European Commission seemed to concur, holding up the Oracle-Sun deal with an investigation into the competitive ramifications of the purchase.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp.’s long-awaited Windows 7 operating system was finally made available, and CEO Steve Ballmer made a rare Toronto appearance to talk up the OS. Naturally, snafus ensued. Downloads of the educational upgrade failed, and some systems suffered endless rebooting loops.

The U.S. seemed to be down on Canadian tech in October, with Harvard University publishing a report that called Canada a laggard on broadband, and the U.S. government smearing Canada as a haven for online piracy.

And one year after it popped up on the security radar, our old friend Conficker was still infecting seven million computers, researchers at the volunteer-run Shadowserver Foundation said.

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