Industry Canada announces their Digital Canada 150 plan - 5 megabits per second per household maybe


Top 5 things you need to know about the government's long-awaited digital economy strategy

Posted by Josh Tabish on Friday, April 4, 2014

We were starting to worry this day would never come. But, lo and behold, here it is: the government has finally announced its long-awaited digital economy strategy, Digital Canada 150.

So, what's the good news? While there are a few positive measures in the strategy, they amount to little more than a repackaging of previous government announcements and existing government programmes. In other words, the 'good news' is kind of 'old news'. And the bad news? Well, the strategy will definitely leave Canadians in the slow lane, as the plan fails to tackle Canada's national digital deficit and stark digital divide.

Many years ago, the government started work on the early stages of what would become the Digital Canada 150 strategy. At the time, countries like Japan, Germany, and Australia had already established roadmaps for affordability, connectivity, and speed thresholds through forward-looking and innovative government initiatives (for example, the plan in the U.S. here).

As a result, Canadian decision-makers were feeling the heat, and in 2010 began work on what telecom expert Michael Geist would, years later, humorously describe as Canada's "Penske File"[1] - or Canada's digital economy strategy. Since then, ministers have come and gone, but we've seen little action.

The only strategic digital goal that emerged in Canada didn't come from the government but from the CRTC. In 2011, the CRTC called for universal access to 5Mbps broadband by 2015. However, following today's release of Digital Canada 150, this aspiration seems further than ever from being realized - as today's strategy pushes back that target date to 2019.

Now, after going through 3 Ministers of Industry, 4 years of delays, and consultation data that is nearly 5 years old, the government has created one big let-down for Canadians.

So, to fill you in, here are the top 5 things you need to know about Digital Canada 150:

  1. They've delayed the roll-out of 5Mbps across Canada by four more years: The government has backtracked on a CRTC commitment to ensure every Canadian had 5 Mbps broadband access by 2015 - pushing the date back to 2019. Compare this with the E.U.'s target of 30Mbps by 2020 or the U.S.'s target of 100Mbps by 2020. Even Argentina has set a target for 10Mbps - twice Canada's current goal - for 2015.
  2. Even if we hit the new 2019 speed targets, 700,000 Canadians will be left behind.Rather than promising full adoption, the government has only promised 98% coverage. This means most, but not all, Canadians will have access to 5Mbps.
  3. $500m isn't anywhere near enough for Canada to start catching up with our global counterparts. The government's announcement of $305m investment in rural broadband and $200m to help small to medium-sized businesses adopt new technologies is a welcome start - but experts agree that billions are required to ensure every Canadian has world-class, independent Internet access instead of the terrible speeds and high prices offered by Big Telecom.
  4. The government has not promised that this money won't simply be handed over to Big Telecom. In the strategy, there is no promise that the new investments will include an open access requirement. That means taxpayer money could simply be given to Big Telecom - which is obviously not what Canadians are looking for. Subsidizing our bloated telecom bureaucracies with taxpayer money is not the way forward.
  5. It reads like the digital strategy for the last 5 years - not the next 5 years. The consultation data is nearly 5 years old, it was released almost 5 years late, and, to top it all off, pushed our targets back nearly another 5 years. Decision-makers had a lot of time to get this one right, but instead of bold steps forward, we see warmed-up leftovers from previous announcements, and new measures that make it very difficult for Canada to catch up with our global counterparts.

While the government recently collected a $5.27 billion wireless spectrum windfall, it is unfortunate that there has been no substantial commitment to re-investing this money in the connected future Canadians deserve. Experts and everyday Canadians agree: this digital windfall must be invested in giving Canadians the world-class Internet they deserve.

This is especially disappointing given that Canadians have worked together to set out a clear road map forward - a road map the government has essentially ignored. Our Action Plan for a Connected Canada called for

  1. reinvesting money earned from the sale of public digital assets (such as wireless spectrum) back into 21st century Internet services;
  2. ensuring fair, cost-based access to Big Telecom's networks so Canadians can have more affordable, independent options;
  3. ensuring our telecom regulator, the CRTC, has teeth, and can go after telecom giants who break the rules.

After so much time, today's announcement will come as a huge let down to any Canadian who cares about our digital future. The half-measures introduced don't amount to the comprehensive digital strategy Canada really needs. If you're wondering what you can do, we've created a way for everyone to let Minister Moore know we expect much more. Let him hear your voice by speaking out at

[1] The term "The Penske file" originates from a now famous episode Seinfeld episode, and refers to an imaginary/nonexistent project.


Industry Canada press release

Government unveils plan for Canada's digital future

Digital Canada 150 sets clear goals for a connected and competitive Canada

April 4, 2014 - Waterloo, Ontario - Industry Canada

Industry Minister James Moore today unveiled Digital Canada 150, an ambitious path forward for Canadians to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age. Digital Canada 150 encompasses 39 new initiatives that build on our government's successful measures for a more connected Canada. It is based on 250 submissions that were received from more than 2,000 Canadians who registered to participate in online consultations held over three months in 2010.

There are five key principles guiding Canada's digital future:

  • Connecting Canadians
  • Protecting Canadians
  • Economic Opportunities
  • Digital Government
  • Canadian Content

Under Digital Canada 150:

  • Over 98 percent of Canadians will have access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second-a rate that enables e-commerce, high-resolution video, employment opportunities and distance education.
  • Canadians will have confidence their online transactions are secure, their privacy is protected, and their families are safe from cyberbullying and other online threats.
  • We will work to secure the communications networks and devices that connect Canadians from foreign threats, which will protect the privacy of families, businesses and governments.
  • Wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates will be capped and wireless companies that break the rules will be penalized.
  • Significant new investments will be made to help small and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies and to provide digital companies with access to venture capital.
  • Canada will be a leader in the use of digital technologies and open data, making it even easier for Canadians to access government services online.
  • New measures to promote Canadian content online will enable Canadians to better celebrate our national story and what it means to be Canadian.

Digital Canada 150 is the result of extensive consultations with industry, businesses and individual Canadians. It is designed to be inclusive, capable of responding to the demands of fast-changing times, and able to provide Canadians with the tools, the protections and the skills they need to fully embrace the opportunities of a digital future.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada will provide $305 million to extend and enhance high-speed Internet services to a target speed of 5 megabits per second for 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote areas.
  • Canada's world-leading anti-spam law comes into force July 1, 2014, to protect Canadians from malicious online attacks.
  • Digital Canada 150 provides important funding, $36 million in total, to repair, refurbish and then donate computers to public libraries, not-for-profit organizations and Aboriginal communities, giving students access to the equipment they need to take part in the digital world.
  • Through the Business Development Bank of Canada, the government will invest $300 million in venture capital for digital companies and $200 million to support small and medium-sized businesses with digital technology adoption.


"We now live in a digital world. What connects us today are the Internet and new technologies that have created tremendous opportunities for Canadians to communicate with each other and businesses to compete globally. Our government's top priorities are jobs and economic growth. Digital Canada 150 is a plan to take full advantage of the digital economy as we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2017. It's the next step to build our nation and connect Canadians to each other."

- James Moore, Industry Minister

"Digital Canada 150 will shape the course of our country for years to come. It is an important plan that will position Canadians for success in the new economy, providing jobs and economic growth, accelerated innovation, access to new markets and greater choice for consumers."

- Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo

"In the digital age, our future depends on harnessing the power of open data, and Digital Canada 150 is a plan to help Canadians do just that. Through open government initiatives and online tools such as apps, open data makes it easier for the public to access government services and saves time and money through facilitating daily tasks."

- Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board

"Taking full advantage of digital technology is an ongoing priority for Canadian Heritage and its portfolio organizations, which play a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. As Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017 draws closer, we will provide opportunities to promote Canada's history. Digital Canada 150 will help these activities to extend their reach and enrich the experiences of Canadians as they celebrate their history and heritage."

- Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

"A digital society is the most fundamental change we will experience in our lifetime. Digital Canada 150 lays the foundation for a connected and competitive Canada."

- Mark Barrenechea, President and CEO, OpenText

"Notably, Digital Canada 150 recognizes that technology and innovation are drivers of economic growth. By providing access to venture capital and support for the adoption of technology, this strategy will help small and medium-sized companies grow more quickly, leading to new jobs and increased productivity across the country."

- Iain Klugman, CEO, Communitech

"The information and communications technologies industry is one of Canada's key economic drivers, generating $155 billion in revenues each year, contributing $67.2 billion to the annual GDP and accounting for over 570,000 jobs. With Digital Canada 150, the Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to this increasingly essential industry. It is a solid plan that will ensure Canada is able to take advantage of the enormous global opportunities ICT presents and will help make us a world leader in ICT adoption."

- Karna Gupta, President and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada

"We cannot properly know and understand our stories, our history and each other unless we can connect with each other. This is the necessary starting point for everything else."

- Anthony Wilson-Smith, President, Historica Canada

"Canadians are already avid users and producers of online services and content. This strategy will accelerate digital adoption and technological innovation among Canadian businesses, which is essential if we are to remain a global economic power."

- Chris O'Neill, Managing Director, Google Canada

"Congratulations to the Government of Canada and Industry Minister James Moore on Digital Canada 150, which provides an exciting roadmap for prosperity in a transforming world. Cisco is passionate in our belief that innovation and technology will dramatically improve the lives of Canadians and are essential in driving future economic growth and success. We applaud the government for its vision and look forward to working with them in executing Digital Canada 150."

- Nitin Kawale, President, Cisco Canada

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Jake Enwright
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Industry

Media Relations
Media Relations
Industry Canada