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9. Recommendations: Addressing the Issues

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9.1 Introduction

It is clear to anyone attempting to use new communication tools in all communities in the Arctic that there is a severe gap between what is needed today and what they can affordably purchase. The gap in the future will only increase if nothing is done.

This chapter details 10 specific recommendations toward closing that gap over the next five years […]

9.2 Achieving service parity

As federal and territorial governments implement more and better services that rely on modern communication networks, the gap in access to services and opportunity between well-connected and poorly connected regions and communities will only widen […]

Recommendation 1

To: Federal and territorial policy makers

Commit to service parity among Arctic communities, and set minimum connectivity standards for all Arctic communities that assure service parity to southern urban centres.

9.3 Meeting bandwidth needs & reducing costs to the end user

Chapter 8 outlines some of the initiatives other countries have taken to meet the challenges of building out a network infrastructure that can provide affordable access to end users. Only after minimum standards have been established can regulators begin to assess the best approach to bringing these services to the market. All the players must understand the unique nature of the market in which the services will operate.

Successful efforts to connect disparate regions in other countries have relied on developing a communication infrastructure and broadband strategy to achieve certain minimum standards, as defined in each jurisdiction. The Arctic will require a similar strategy […]

Recommendation 2

To: Infrastructure investors, the CRTC, federal and territorial policy makers

Develop an Arctic-specific strategy with clearly defined rules, that articulates a sustained, multi-year funding commitment for communications network development to meet connectivity standards set by policy makers.

9.4 Increasing reliability and quality of service

As people become more reliant on communications networks to live their daily lives, those networks must become increasingly reliable. Government planners must also have faith that communications networks will work when needed, in order to implement new services enabled by advanced communications networks.

Reliability has become a huge issue in the Arctic, particularly in the regions where investments in new technologies have actually increased dependency on communications for everything from health care delivery and education, to the basics of supporting the economy and providing emergency services […]

Recommendation 3

To: Policy makers, service providers, and NCIS-WG members

Ensure there is a redundant connection into every Arctic community to avoid gaps in the provision of essential communication services.

9.5 Improving geographic coverage between communities

As governments assess the need for better geographic coverage, lessons can be learned from one agency to another […].

Recommendation 4

To: NCIS-WG members and service providers

Create an inventory of Arctic communications technology projects and services that aim to connect people from remote locations outside of communities in order to share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned.

9.6 Emergency response improvements

The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently in order to respond to an emergency in the Arctic is in essence a question of sovereignty. In extreme emergency scenarios, the existence of adequate communication networks is a question of survival.

Emergency responders arriving in any community in Canada often rely on publicly accessible networks for connectivity - particularly for Internet and mobile device connections […]

Recommendation 5

To: NCIS-WG members and service providers

Identify communication services that will be required in a variety of emergency settings, developing protocols with service providers for surge capacity requests and prioritization of public communications networks for emergency responders within communities. Maintain an inventory of what is commercially available in communities.

9.7 Keeping pace with technological change

The rapid pace of technological evolution combined with rising consumer expectations across the Arctic has left network operators without the necessary resources to meet the needs of both government and the public. Examples of ever-increasing efforts by government to use new communications tools to reach consumers are provided in Section 5.8 […]

Recommendation 6

To: CRTC, infrastructure investors, federal and territorial policy makers

Investment strategies for Arctic communication networks must include provisions for the increasing rate of change of technology, and the continuous introduction of new consumer services and devices.

9.8 Increasing choice through innovation and competition

Compared to communications services, there is probably no other industry where competition is so vital in lowering price, adding innovation, and improving what has essentially become a public good. Accepting the role of competition does not translate into a singular, hands-off approach to regulation. Other jurisdictions in the world, as summarized in Section 8.6, attempt to introduce competition, even in markets where logic would dictate that only one provider can survive […]

Recommendation 7

To: Policy makers, CRTC, service providers

Investment models should allow for, and encourage competing services in as many market segments as possible, thereby promoting consumer and government choice, and innovation and improved services.

It is unrealistic to expect that government procurement will drive innovation and expansion of networks. However, procurement processes could help improve innovation with some steps, including:

Public demand for more services fuel innovation faster than government buying. Real innovation will occur if financial incentives are put in place for delivering services to the public through competition for subsidies that lead to better, more ubiquitous services to the Arctic public. The public will benefit, and ultimately so will government procurement processes, as the existence of multiple providers may be made possible, leading to more competition and innovation to meet governments' needs in the long run […]

Recommendation 8

To: Procurement officers, service providers

Government procurement officers are to encourage innovation through RFPs that focus on business outcomes requirements and technology neutral RFPs to stimulate innovative solutions from service providers.

9.9 Human resource development

Issues in human resources are summarized in Section 5.10. Communication networks hold the promise of being able to actually solve some human resource challenges in communities to improve training and education opportunities for local staff, as well as provide connectivity to the expertise required in other locations […]

Recommendation 9

To: NCIS-WG members, IT developers, all government departments

Recognize the reality of community capacity, and design applications and networks that will allow for effective remote service delivery.

Recommendation 10

To: NCIS-WG members, IT developers, all government departments

Take advantage of robust networks to deliver training to government workers using new communication tools.

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Prepared for the Northern Communications & Information Systems Working Group by Imaituk Inc.
Report funded by Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
Site by Manoverboard.
© Government of the Northwest Territories 2011.