Ontario needs mobile action plan, says university

The government of Ontario should create a a five-year mobile action plan so the province will become a leading mobile jurisdiction, says an art and design institution.

In a report issued Wednesday, OCAD University that while Ontario has significant wireless infrastructure and his home to over 700 mobile companies, it needs a strategy to harness its advantages.

It notes, for example, that while Canada has very active users of mobile services, with an average minutes of use of 388 minutes per month, Ontario also has the smallest mobile-penetration rate (78 per cent) and the largest average revenue per use (ARPU) of $59 of the jurisdictions around the world it looked at.

It also pointed out that Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. control 97 per cent of the wireless market. The entrance of startups Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity has pushed down ARPU, it notes.

OCAD U is the Ontario College of Arts and Design, whose courses are heavily digital-related.

 “Failing to act now will disadvantage Ontario in numerous ways,” says the report.

If access isn’t affordable there will be a gap between those who have mobile devices and those who don’t; private-sector businesses will miss out on economic opportunities, financial-services organizations will lag behind their global counterparts, government services like healthcare will miss out on significant efficiencies of operation and quality of care, and students will miss out on skills they will need to compete effectively in a competitive world.

It recommends the provincial government adopt what it calls “quick wins” such as creating Ontario as a centre of excellence, recognizing mobile health solutions that promote ways of preventing illness; supporting mobile learning projects; creating a plan to push mobile access to government services; initiating an m-commerce task force on privacy and security; launch a commission to study the impact of mobile learning in public schools; and investigate the potential of using the Ontario ORION research network beyond its mandate to link researchers and education institutions.

The report has recommendations for the private sector to follow as well.

For example, it urges industry to work with the province to expand the number of qualifying trades under the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit to include people who create, market and distribute mobile products.

Industries should try a consortium approach to mobile research, the report said, point to TR Tech, a not-for-profit technology commercialization company.

“The quality of life and economic well being of Ontarians can be radically transformed in the next decade with the possibilities that mobile technologies, networks and applications offer,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, president of OCAD U and co-principal investigator, said in a statement.

 “The Ontario residents and businesses we polled are eager to adopt mobile services in all dimensions of their lives – what’s more, they want to learn how mobile technologies can facilitate or replace common tasks.”
Diamond is a data visualization, wearable technology and mobile media researcher. She holds a PhD in computing, information technology and engineering from the University of East London,  and a Masters in Digital Media theory from the University of Arts, London.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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