Canadian Politician Promises Broadband For All – Though of course it’s campaign time….

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a law that politicians actually had to keep campaign promises?

The CBC reports that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is promising “ubiquitous” broadband connectivity across Canada within three years — should his party be elected. Specifically, he’s promising 100% connectivity, with speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps by 2013 — with a “more ambitious” goal to follow by 2017. After deciding to mirror the U.S. broadband policy of the last ten years (aka do nothing, and/or let your wealthiest carriers write the laws) Canada’s been slowly sinking in all relevent broadband metrics, including speed, price, and penetration. That slide is now apparently campaign fodder:

Ignatieff also criticized the Harper government for allowing Canada to slip in international broadband standings. At the turn of the millennium, Canada was a world broadband leader, ranking second in the percentage of people subscribed to high-speed internet services. Since then, the country has slipped to 10th, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

We’ve watched Canada’s biggest carriers grow more powerful, while independent Canadian ISPs slowly have been fighting for their lives. Canadian regulators like the CRTC, stocked with former Bell and Rogers executives, have repeatedly ignored anticompetitive attacks on small carriers. Regulators have tried to prevent wireless competitors from entering the market because they weren’t Canadian enough (aka protectionism). Cable’s biggest carriers are happily now imposing ridiculously low caps and high per gigabyte overages, while Canada slides down the rankings. Carriers are happy, consumers are annoyed.

Of course while the CBC makes a brief reference to the U.S. FCC’s broadband plan, Canadians probably should forge their own path — given the FCC’s plan is more lip service and showmanship than substance so far. Politicians everywhere enjoy paying broadband lip service when convenient, but such promises are quickly forgotten — and it’s usually quickly back to the business of letting companies like AT&T, Comcast, Rogers or Bell Canada dictate your country’s telecom policy.
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