MJP said:If it is revenue neutral then yes it is a solution that could be lived with, but then you get into the issue of the government owning more assets rather than less. Not to mention a probable increase in some sort of regulation of the industry (in those proposed areas) rather than less. It is not so viable with the truly isolated areas like the north where small isolated pockets of Canadians live. That is where the true cost comes in and quite frankly as a taxpayer is not acceptable. High speed internet is not a right and thus should not thrust into the spotlight like it is. I will say again with the technology available today, the cost is not worth it to us the Canadian tax payer.
While I agree that there is a limit to what level of service one should expect when living in northern/remote/rural areas and there is a cost associated with living there I also disagree with that taxpayers as a whole should not have a role. In a nutshell Canada's economy is an urban population based upon natural resources found in increasingly remote/northern/rural areas. Look at the TSX stock exchange and see how many buisnesses are based there on natural resources hence the Canadian Petro buck..
While a company who operates a mine/mill/facility in the remote areas may be able to find some form of internet communications the cost of that will be applied to the raw resource they produce and eventually it is us, the taxpayer, who pay that difference. For example one company I deal with can only get dial-up internet in their area....yet due to the current technology on websites and small pdf volumes it is not a workable solution for them to use and are stuck with fax/Canada Post. Now we have two processes, one for the majority of clients and then one-off solutions which increase the buerocracy of the government....
VOIP and video communication have basically meant that we at the provincial level have drastically cut travel costs for meetings. There is a loss of content with pure internet based meetings but it has also allowed those who used to travel 8-9 hours one way for a meeting to participate much easier. Web based training is on the rise as well which has meant that I can train fire crews on safety/driving etc. on a registered course from a remote fire base instead of paying to bring the entire crew into town...or better yet send a contact an e-mail with a bunch of courses to take and have trained staff who did the training at home show up to work instead of wasting time in camp.
With the aboriginal populations in many of these northern towns if the training isn't offered locally people don't go...and then a whole other series of concerns comes up with who does the work needed to deliver the raw product needed for the upgrading facilities near larger centers. There is another thread on here talking about productivity and Canada's economy but how do I take a population of low education people and make them more effective...training and investment in what they can do is a big first step irregardless of race/background.
Cell phones and how the spread of towers has expanded to cover many remote areas is probably a good starting point on how this could be implemented. I can access towers now in much of Alberta and northern BC where previously I could not mostly due to oil and gas companies subsidizing tower construct for their employees and well site monitoring. Level of service quality does vary and I should not expect to use a fancy iPhone or latest gadget that works in downtown Edmonton but I can get out and make a phone call...again a big jump in safety (which saves money for all long term) and productivity. Having the government subsidize the financial backing that would allow a town/reserve/mill/mine to install some form of internet access and pay out the monies over time...much like issueing bonds...would allow for the service to be installed and run based upon the level of local investment. This means that a market can arrange for a service to be installed today and pay off the debt, gareunteed by the federal government, over a period of time by the local population/industry and yet still realize the gains of the service today. We the taxpayers would be on the hook for loan defaulters and administration costs but it is cheap compared to adding 10% to all power or construction or material costs used due to the primary producers of Canada being forced to add infrastructure costs to their existing operating costs.
There is a post earlier in this thread raising the question of what level of technology should be installed and to what standard. To be honest I don't speak enough IT language to know the differences and what could work but it is an oportunity for targeted, national level R&D towards a situation that has potential world wide export potential. Think of Finland and Nokia...it is a national level R&D focus to be a leader in the cell phone industry and they have succeeded.