As Canada waits for the Harper government to lay out its national digital economy strategy
, the chairman of the U.S. telecommunications regulator says his agency is preparing to release more wireless spectrum to ensure the country maintains leadership in mobile technology.
“We are in a global bandwidth race,” Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in a speech last week. “And that must spur us to keep the pedal to the floor.”
Industry Canada has promised so far to auction spectrum in 2013 and 2014, but its plans are nowhere near as ambitious or detailed as the Americans.
Industry Minister Christian Paradis says Ottawa’s digital strategy will be announced by the end of the year.
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan – which has been adopted by President Barak Obama as government policy--calls for freeing up of 300 MHz of licensed and unlicensed spectrum by 2015 and 500 MHz by 2020. The plan aims to make 4G wireless service available to 98 per cent of all Americans by 2016.
But a Canadian industry analyst says as a matter of policy we shouldn’t move faster than the Americans in certain telecom areas. “We’ve had problems in the past when Canada has tried to establish its own guidelines for spectrum use, where the U.S. didn’t use the same frequencies for the same purpose,” Mark Goldberg
said in an interview.
“We found there were very few manufacturers who were willing to build devices that were compatible with a Canada-only spectrum plan.”
In fact, he said official Industry Canada policy is consulting with the Americans and then “fast following” U.S. spectrum allocation.