Our Declaration

A New National Dream: global leadership through ultrafast communications

Dear Community Leaders

Companies, organizations and individuals are asked to declare their support for i-CANADA — a ‘community in communications’. In i-CANADA, everyone has access to everyone else and to all information. i-CANADA is a fabric of networks so fast that there is no delay — so fast that information pulses in real-time throughout the virtual commonwealth.

By joining together, we will create a ‘Canadian Commons’ where the population is effectively in one living room, accessible and accessing entertainment and information without the friction of distance. It is the ultimate result of the original national dream…from railway to real-time, from a transportation nation to a communication nation.

Canada will be effectively re branded as the go to nation for innovation and will be recognized as a top ranking Intelligent (i) Nation, i-CANADA.

Please take a few minutes to review and sign the i-CANADA Declaration.

Preamble: Fumbling the Future

Until recently, Canada has been leading the world in the very capability that created our country – communications. Today, Canada has lost its way, and is not keeping up with the first rank of nations in communications capabilities. This is wounding the entire economy, as communications underpins the act of innovation, which itself is the driver for prosperity.

Based on millions of recent test results from Speedtest.net, this index compares and ranks consumer download speeds around the globe. Is a 32nd ranking for Canada good enough? Only a bold leap forward can restore our place as the first developer of communications advantage!

A Proud History: The Original National Dream

There was a time when Canadian innovation in communications provided the fabric on which the nation itself was built. Its small population was stretched across a country so vast that the sun rising over Newfoundland did not stop warming the country until twenty hours later!

It was the need to communicate across that distance that created a nation, and a national genius for communications. Canada’s original “National Dream” was to create a railway that united the people. In fact, a telegraph line preceded the national railway by a decade, giving a foretaste of the communications ingenuity Canadians have continued to leverage. After meeting that singular communications challenge, Canadians went on to knit their nation together from an emerging fabric of telephones, digital fibers and satellites — innovations that they helped pioneer. Past investment in Canada have created Canadian firsts such as:

  • The first automatic conversion of telegraphic code to text;
  • The idea for the telephone itself, invented by Alexander Graham Bell while staying in his mother’s home in Brantford, Ontario;
  • The world’s first long-distance phone call, made over a distance of 16 kilometers from Brantford to Paris, Ontario;
  • The first commercial telephone system;
  • The first successful all-electric radio;
  • The first all-electric radio transmission station in the world, in 1927;
  • The invention of the walkie-talkie and radio sonar;
  • The first mobile telephone system;
  • The world’s first domestic communications satellite, Anik I, which went into service in 1972;
  • The first line of fully digital telephone exchanges;
  • The first nation-wide digital telephone system.

All Canadians today owe part of their sense of identity to the design and implementation of the CBC’s regional and national broadcast capabilities, at a time when it was important for Canadians hear and understand news and ideas from citizens in all regions of Canada.

Other proud achievements include CANARIE’s pioneering work during the ‘90s in ultra high speed broadband has provided the national connectivity that established world leadership in connectivity and collaboration for our research and education community and education community to be world leaders in connectivity and collaboration and achieve the synergy that allows researchers in New Brunswick, Ontario to work as if in the same room with colleagues in BC, Alberta and all other regions of Canada.

These are only a few of the hundreds of examples of Canadian leadership in research, innovation and engineering over the past 150 years that have led to our nation building, our quality of life and our economic prosperity.

Today’s Reality

But now the alarm bells are ringing as Canada has been falling down the international leadership staircase in terms of the innovation and application of technology in ways that could continue to improve the quality of life for all citizens. A recent study indicates that Canada:

  • Has some of the poorest high-speed internet service in the developed world;
  • Ranked 22nd out of 30 countries against measures such as broadband adoption, network capacity and pricing; and
  • Ranked 16th on broadband adoption.

Please take a few minutes to view the TVO video on the impact of Canada being way behind the rest of the world in terms of our digital economy and broadband infrastructure. Canada’s speed is 1/100 to 1/1000 slower than 20 major competitors.

Why Leadership Matters

Rising again to the global sunlight as a world leader in ultra broadband communications will facilitate new advances in health and wellness. It would finally reduce the rising cost of healthcare and reduce wait times for important services. New learning and training methods will assist our parents and schools to innovate to world standards for our children. In-home access to communication speeds and cost performance already enjoyed in homes in many large and small communities around the world will bring to life the distant horizons for these new learning opportunities. New logistics and manufacturing methods would cut costs, offset our higher dollar and improve our international business. The opportunities are legion; our will to grasp them needs to rise again to the level of our forefathers who created this great country.

The New National Dream: The Real-speed virtual society

The new vision is to give everyone access to everyone else and to all information across networks so fast that there is no delay — the networks move information in real-time. This will create a ‘Canadian Commons’ where the population is effectively in one living room, accessible and accessing entertainment and information without the friction of distance. It is the ultimate result of the original national dream…from railway to real-time, from a transportation nation to a communication nation.

The means: Leapfrog to 1-G Networks in Key Centres

‘Leapfrogging’ to the most advanced quality of communications technology possible can provoke a turning-point in capability. Measuring the quality of Internet connections has grown more important than just broadband penetration. The United States, for example, ranks today behind such poorer countries as Bulgaria and Romania for Internet service1. Internet connections in Eastern Europe are often superior because network operators invested straight into the latest equipment, leapfrogging past broadband providers in other countries. In terms of overall broadband leadership, a recent study ranked South Korea as the world’s foremost nation, followed by Japan and Hong Kong.. All these countries have a national broadband agenda.

Leapfrogging current network limitations means adopting the goal of providing one gigabit-per-second connections. This standard is already in place in many communities in Japan and Sweden, and is the goal of Canada’s innovative new Waterfront project. The Waterfront project aims to create a quantum leap forward for everyone, everywhere within the Toronto development area, with an ultra-high-speed broadband capability that is up to 1,000 times faster than typical residential networks. The objective is to attract the world’s leading organizations from the knowledge- and creative-sector industries to the Waterfront. This will pull investment, jobs, and novel uses of information technology in the areas of intelligent energy use, transportation, work styles, entertainment, and the sparking of new opportunities. We are after “A Waterfront for Canada” — the creation of a national plan that will incorporate 1 G networks and other new opportunities and strategies and will help to facilitate the sharing of great ideas that have already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

The i-CANADA Declaration

Whereas broadband is recognized as a key enabler of economic growth that can benefit services such as telemedicine in rural areas, allow better management of transportation and energy systems and reduce infrastructure costs for businesses, and

Whereas the continuing advancements in information, communications and technology. “ICT” are enabling innovative new opportunities in healthcare, education, research, the environment, transportation, business, government, finance, arts and entertainment, media, and digital democracies and

Whereas many of the world’s leading nations and communities are actively pursuing these new opportunities through strategies focused on creating Smart, Ubiquitous or Intelligent communities and

Whereas we believe that Canada has the skills and resources to develop and implement the world’s leading Smart, Ubiquitous and Intelligent Community initiatives for the benefit of all citizens, companies and institutions,

Therefore the undersigned have come together to pledge support and encourage other Canadians to join an initiative to create “i-CANADA”, the world’s leading Intelligent Nation comprised of Smart, Ubiquitous and Intelligent Communities and Regions.

To support the i-CANADA initiative we agree to involve leaders from all economic and social sectors to develop a national plan that will define some of the latest opportunities and strategies and will help to facilitate the sharing of great ideas that have already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

We will leverage the many existing investments, pilot initiatives and lessons learned by creating a national collaborative program.

We will work to ensure that the community’s Innovation Nation recommendations are adopted and seek to remove all obstacles to growth.

Our goal is to ensure that by the year 2020 Canada is clearly one of the world’s leaders in the global Smart, Ubiquitous and Intelligent Community movement with benefits available for all of our citizens, companies and institutions.

Give our people the bandwidth, and the creative ideas will come — and the creative global knowledge workers with them. Your endorsement and pledge will help start building ideas, options and commitments to creating the i-CANADA nation. Please add your signature. http://cata.ca/Advocacy/iCanada/default.aspx


William G. (Bill) Hutchison, Chair, i-CANADA
Barry Gander, Co-Founder
Cindy Gordon, Co-Chair
Michael Kelly, Co-Chair