Final Submission : Province of British Columbia (Intervenor 249)

Document Name: 2015-134.223986.2614224.Final Submission (1k15c01!).html

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Final Submission : Province of British Columbia (Intervenor 249)

Document Name: 2015-134.223986.2614223.Final Submission (1k15b01!).pdf
Ministry of Technology, Innovation
and Citizens’ Services
Office of the
Chief Information ****
Province of British Columbia
Mailing Address:
Box 9412 Stn Prov Govt
**** BC *** ***
Location:
4000 **** Place
Telephone: *-***-***-****
Facsimile: *-***-***-****
Email : ******@***.com
Ref: 8663-C12-201503186
CLIFF: 104464
Date: May 25, 2016
Ms. **** May-Cuconato
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa ON *** ***
**** Ms. May-Cuconato:

Re: Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-5 (“TNoC 2015-134-5”) Review of basic telecommunication services – on the topic of a national broadband strategy for Canada.

The Province of British Columbia is pleased to provide the attached comments to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in response to TNC 2015-134-5. Our comments have been prepared and are presented by the Office of the Chief Information **** (OCIO), within the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.

The Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services performs a dynamic role in government to support businesses, citizens, government ministries and broader public sector organizations. The mandate of the ministry is to grow British Columbia’s technology sector, champion innovation, and enable the delivery of cost-effective, accessible and responsive services.

The Office of the Chief Information **** (OCIO) leads strategy, policy and standards for information technology, IT security and the management of the IM/IT investment portfolio for the Province. The OCIO is accountable for the operation of a broad government technology infrastructure as a key enabler in support of business transformation for Government, **** Public Sector organizations and through participation inter-jurisdictionally on initiatives to evolve technology and business.

…/2
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/acrtc/maycuconato.htm

The OCIO collaborates with federal, provincial, local and municipal governments; community organizations; First Nations organizations, and the private sector in support of government’s objectives.

We agree with the Commission that the topic of a national broadband strategy for Canada is an important matter. We thank the Commission for giving us the opportunity to make our views known.

Sincerely,
Bette-Jo ****
Associate Deputy Minister and
Government Chief Information ****

Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services, Province of BC * * * End of document * * *

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Submission of the Office of the Chief Information **** (the “OCIO”) of British Columbia Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-5,

A National Broadband Strategy for Canada

1. The OCIO provided a written submission (the “OCIO Submission”) to the Commission on July 15, 2015 in respect to Telecom Notice of Consultation 2015-134 (“TNoC 2015-134”).

In this submission, the OCIO is limiting its comments to the issue of the National Broadband Strategy issue and will not be issuing any further comments with respect to this proceeding.

2. In the OCIO Submission, British Columbia called upon the Commission to devise a “Canadian Broadband Roadmap”1 “that would go a long way to expressing future target speeds, roles, responsibilities and Canadian requirements” ... that would articulate the “digital experience requirements and expectations of Canadians now and into the future; the adequacy and future sufficiency of various target speeds; technology and future application requirements; Canadian service requirements and expectations, including who will be best able to provide such services; respective roles; etc.”.2 3. The OCIO notes that “[at] the public hearing on 18 **** 2016, the Commission reframed the focus of the proceeding (TNoC 2015-134) and called on parties to explore the elements that should be included in a national broadband strategy for Canada”.3 4. The OCIO is pleased that the Commission has called upon parties to explore the elements that should be included in a national broadband strategy as this would lead to the creation of the Canadian Broadband Roadmap that British Columbia called for in the OCIO Submission.

5. In the OCIO’s Submission, the OCIO identified a number experiences over the past decade or so in its efforts to close British Columbia’s digital divide. While those experiences might not necessarily reflect the experiences of other provinces and territories, they do serve to underscore the complexity of providing ubiquitous broadband services to at least some Canadians.

6. In response to the Commission’s recent directive, British Columbia respectfully submits that the elements of a national broadband strategy for Canada should consider and address the following:

a. There is great wisdom to be found in “The New National Dream: Networking the Nation for Broadband Access National Dream Report”4 and the Telecom Review Panel’s Final Report in respect to its recommendation that a Ubiquitous Canadian 1 OCIO Submission, para. 36

2 OCIO Submission, para. 38

3 Telecom Notice of Consultation 2015-134-5, para. 2 4 http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/C2-575-2001E.pdf (National Task Force Report) 2

Access Network5 should be created. The authors of those reports expended great effort and took great care in assessing broadband related issues that might be of assistance to the Commission in its deliberations regarding the creation of a National Broadband Strategy.6 Many of their conclusions still resonate today.

b. British Columbia has worked for over a decade to close British Columbia’s digital divide and has expended tens of millions of dollars in so doing. During this endeavor, British Columbia has worked with organizations that represent First Nations, the Commission, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Industry Canada and Health Canada to find ways to address British Columbia’s digital divide issues.7

c. While some federal government representatives have collaborated with British Columbia over the past decade, the federal government has not specifically created a file or designated a department responsible for working with stakeholders such as the provinces, territories and First Nations to close Canada’s digital divide.

d. Given that **** Minister **** has now expressly directed Honourable Minister **** to “increase high-speed broadband coverage and work to support competition, choice and availability of services, and foster a strong investment environment for telecommunications services to keep Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy”8, the Commission should consider requesting that the federal government create a program area to develop strategies to collaborate with all stakeholders in the endeavor of extending broadband connectivity to all areas of Canada and closing Canada’s digital divide.

e. A national strategy should be devised to extend fibre as close to the edges of Canada as possible. As explained in the OCIO Submission, there will be “gap areas” where the provision of fibre may not be possible.9 In such cases other advanced technologies, such as satellite services and/or wireless, may be the only solution.

However, affordability is an issue that also needs to be addressed when crafting the National Broadband Strategy.

f. All Canadians should be digitally connected. Consistent with s. 7 (g) of the Telecommunications Act (innovation in the provision of telecommunications services) we should first meet the needs of connectivity – connecting the unconnected, then ensure there is adequate bandwidth, then consider cost and then 5 TPRP Final Report, 8-4

6 See OCIO Submission, para’s 6-10
7 See OCIO Submission, para’s 11-19

8 http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-innovation-science-and-economic-development-mandate-letter 9 See OCIO Submission, para’s 17, 24-26

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find the required technology. Information as to gap areas should now be readily available to the Commission from the Digital Canada 150 funding program.10 Bringing connectivity to those gap areas should be a priority.

g. Ambitious plans by the provinces, territories, First Nations, the federal government and other affected stakeholders, such as communications services providers, are not enough. The Commission itself is a critical enabler by framing the important questions regarding Canadian broadband Internet access requirements; the creation of a flexible yet prescriptive framework to advance the provision of broadband connectivity throughout Canada; addressing issues related to sustainable funding to provide broadband Internet access into the gap areas; and charting a Canadian Broadband Roadmap (or, a National Broadband Strategy if you prefer) that all service providers will be able look to for guidance as they develop their respective access networks.11 The reframing of TNoC 2015-134-5 offers the Commission just the opportunity to assess and summarize the challenge; identify the needs; identify the stakeholders and their respective roles and obligations; devise the required regulatory framework and assign responsibilities (including to the federal government as may be required) to address the vexing problem of closing, not bridging, Canada’s digital divide. These elements should be addressed by the Commission as part of this process.

h. While potentially requiring the ILECs to open their networks to competition and requiring them to also provide a minimum 5/1Mbps service may be part of the solution to improving Canada’s connectivity conundrum, there are still areas of Canada that are either underserved or unserved. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in the course and scope of this proceeding. The Commission also needs to assess and consider the role of small ISPs in providing affordable broadband Internet services to Canadians.12

i. Being mindful of paragraph (h) the commission should also consider Canada’s competitiveness in the international marketplace and continue to strive to improve its OECD rankings such as average download speed ( notwithstanding Canada’s geographical challenges),

j. The federal government should commit to extending fibre services as far as economically practical and, where impractical, encourage improvements to alternate technologies.

10 OCIO Submission, para. 81
11 OCIO Submission, para. 31
12 OCIO Submission, para. 49
4

k. British Columbia has invested tens of millions of dollars in trying to close its digital divide over the past decade yet some of its citizens remain unserved or underserved.

Similarly, the federal government has allocated several hundred million dollars (some of which has been allocated but not expended) in its efforts to bridge (but not close) Canada’s digital divide. While such federal funding is certainly appreciated by small ISPs, the episodic nature of such funding makes it very difficult for small service providers to invest in and continue operations between programs. Ongoing funding between federal programs is an issue that should be addressed, perhaps by the creation of a “National Internet Access Fund” as suggested in the OCIO Submission.13

l. British Columbia further respectfully submits that small ISPs, and others that provide broadband services but do not contribute to the National Contribution Fund should, none the less, be able to seek reimbursement from the NCF, or a similar fund, to offset some of their costs associated with providing broadband services in underserved and unserved areas of Canada.14 Setting upload/download speeds that they cannot meet due to financial constraints (e.g. wholesale backhaul) is an issue that needs to be addressed, particularly where the small ISP is the only available service provider.

m. When devising a National Broadband Strategy, British Columbia respectfully submits that the Commission should resist the temptation of trying to create a “one-size fits all”15 solution where regulation is required. As expressed in the OCIO Submission, what works in one province might not work elsewhere so the Commission is encouraged to regulate only where required and to be prepared to craft potentially asymmetrical regulations to meet local requirements ( i.e. intra-provincial).

n. Reasserting Canada’s leading role as a broadband enabled country should form part of the Commission’s ongoing Annual Service Plans. As with other regulatory proceedings, the Commission should monitor progress against targets and investigate divergences there from. Further, with a National Broadband Framework in hand, and input from this and succeeding proceedings, the Commission ought to “reset” broadband targets every two to three years to ensure that Canada’s broadband network and achievements remain among the very best in the world.

o. Quoting from the OCIO Submission to TNoC 2015-134, “creating a Canadian Broadband Roadmap (or a National Broadband Strategy) will be made easier for the Commission since it will have, through the course of this proceeding, a clear understanding of current consumer requirements/expectations (Question 1); consumer requirements over the next 5 to 10 years (Question 1(e)); the adequacy of the 5/1Mbps target (Question 2); and consumer future expectations (Question 5)”16.

13 OCIO Submission, para’s E.S.7, E.S.8, E.S.13, 63, 71, 72 and 101 14 OCIO Submission, para. E.S 9, E.S. 13, 77, 89, 90, and 91 15 OCIO Submission, para. 66

16 OCIO Submission, para. 80
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7. That telecommunications is essential to the development and preservation of Canada’s identity is unquestionable; that access to affordable, high quality telecommunications services is essential; and that such a system is essential to the economic welfare of all Canadians is clear. As s. 7 of the Telecommunications Act clearly states:

It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives:

(a) to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions;

(b) to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;

(f) to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective;

(g) to stimulate research and development in Canada in the field of telecommunications and to encourage innovation in the provision of telecommunications services;

(h) to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services;

8. For the most part, the provision of advanced telecommunications services falls upon the shoulders of Canada’s incumbent service providers. However, given Canada’s geographical diversity, as British Columbia has already experienced, there are areas of this country where the economics make it challenging to serve with fibre based infrastructure.

9. British Columbia and the federal government have, together, expended untold hundreds of millions of dollars to close Canada’s digital divide only to find that some communities cannot be digitally connected through conventional funding programs and existing communications service providers.17 A new approach is required. With guidance from the National Dream Report and the TPRP Report, the strong legislative foundation found in s. 7 of the Telecommunications Act, Canadians’ input into this proceeding, a National Broadband Strategy can be developed that will lead to the closure, not bridging, of Canada’s digital divide.

10. All of which is respectfully submitted.
***End of Document***

17 The OCIO uses the term “communications service providers to include ILECs, CLECs, non-dominant carriers and other facility based carriers but not satellite service providers”.

104464 **** Letter National Broadband Strategy CRTC - 2015-134-5 104464 National Broadband Strategy submission to CRTC 2015-134-5