Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains discusses digital economy, 5G, wireless competition and pricing at IIC

Following CRTC’s Jean-Pierre Blais keynote zingers at the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications conference, colleague Navdeep Bains, Minister of innovation, science and economic development, presented his viewpoints for a brighter Canada.

While not as direct as Blais, Bains sees a Canada that is inclusive, innovative, competitive, and also echoed the same disruption conversation by stating we are in “changing times.”

Below are a number of important quote’s from the Minister’s speech.

How Canada needs to change its game to compete globally

“Global companies are becoming local competitors… We need strong telecommunications and ICT sectors as we enter into what some are calling the fourth industrial revolution. We’re living with a pace and scale of change that’s undreamed of. But also daunting. As a country we need to be on our game. Especially if we want to compete internationally for the most talented people, the most groundbreaking technologies and the fastest-growing companies. With the right plan, Canada can outperform the rest of the world.”

Canada’s place in the digital economy

“Today, the digital economy is the economy… There is virtually no part of our world today untouched by communications technologies.”

“It will be about growing the economy and harnessing the power of technology in all sectors — from fishing and farming to mining and health. And with our world-class communications infrastructure creating a platform for sustainable growth, it will be about discovering technologies that we can’t even imagine yet. That’s the kind of input we got this summer from Canadians when we asked for their help in shaping the Innovation Agenda.”

On putting the needs of Canadians first

“We must address the needs of Canadians who could have access to the Internet but can’t afford it. We don’t want school work, job searches or ideas for new businesses to be stifled by geography. We also don’t want broadband and cellphone plans that are out of reach.”

“Some providers have already taken steps to make the Internet affordable for low-income Canadians. And I thank you for that. These efforts must be expanded across the country.”

On filling the IT job sector

“Today, nearly 900,000 Canadians are employed by the information technology sector. But it is estimated that by 2019 there will be more than 180,000 additional jobs to fill. In order to keep pace, Canada must prepare enough people with the right skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Here at home, we need more people in science, technology, engineering and math. Because the number of positions that require these disciplines will only grow. We also need more women in these fields.”

The future of telecom in Canada

“The quality of Canada’s existing wireline and wireless networks in our cities is a significant strength. Our telecommunication companies invested more than $13 billion last year. But this is a race—a journey, not a destination. We cannot afford to rest on our current success. For the cities of the future, networks are paramount. We need to start planning and building networks that are ten times faster than the current standard. We should be thinking not in terms of megabits, but in terms of gigabits.”

“The era of the smart city is dawning.”

“But this high-speed revolution can’t be confined to cities. Networks need to be extended out into remote and rural areas. All Canadians must have access to the benefits that faster, next-generation networks can bring.”

“New services and technologies are driving demand for ever-increasing amounts of data. In fact, mobile data traffic is expected to grow six-fold by 2020. In particular, traffic from having a growing number of devices connected to the Internet could increase 24-fold over the same period… And all of these technologies will need more spectrum and more network infrastructure.”

“So our regulatory framework and spectrum rules must have the right balance between competition and investment. Throughout our consultations, Canadians across the country told us that vibrant telecommunications competition and choice are essential. This is about Canadians benefitting from what a healthy and strong competitive marketplace brings. The right spectrum for the right application at the right time is also key to wireless innovation.”

“5G is the next new major phase of mobile telecommunications… We will focus on optimizing spectrum currently in use and unlocking additional spectrum that can be used for new mobile 5G services. This approach will allow all Canadians to use next-generation technologies and participate fully in the digital economy.”

What a innovative, technology-focussed Canada looks like

“Our government is prepared to do its share to drive economic growth through innovation. To achieve this goal, our government is prepared to think big, aim high and act boldly. We imagine networks ten times faster than the current standard. We want to close the digital divide and give all Canadians access to broadband. We want all Canadians to benefit from a competitive marketplace with affordable and innovative services.”