A GIS Approach for Assessing Broadband Wireless Market Potential for Rural and Remote Canadian Communities

Prof. Michael Sawada,
Mr Daniel Cossette,
Gérald Chouinard,
Gerry Briggs,
Dr Peter Johnson
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Millions of Canadians do not have broadband internet access and the majority of these reside within the rural and remote communities of Canada. This situation has led to an urban/rural 'broadband divide'. Barriers exist to the deployment of wireline broadband for rural and remote regions because of the significant expense of installation and maintenance of wired infrastructure needed to reach remote dwellings and businesses. In such situations the costs will outweigh the benefits of such wireline access. Arctic communities however are very small and the distances between them are often hundreds of kilometers. In these situations the connectivity is essential for delivery of programs such e-health, e-education and e-governance, no matter what the cost may be.

Accessibility to terrestrial broadband wireless technology is a spatial question that involves the capacity for different technological solutions to reach profitable population bases. Various standards organizations such as the IEEE are developing technologies that would permit wireless Internet access over much greater distances than current technologies and without having to be in line of sight of the base station. Benefits of such new technologies include rapid deployment, flexibility, scalability and not having to physically connect to the subscriber.

We present a geographic information systems' (GIS) approach to determine the potential market served by new broadband wireless technologies in Canada. We identify areas where deployments would be most profitable from a business and access viewpoint. We consider new technology in the context of the current Canadian broadband marketplace, and practically consider its implementation based on current retail and wholesale telecommunications market trends. Results suggest that a considerable proportion of the remote communities in Canada population could be served by these new systems and this is of interest to the unserved population, service providers, telecommunication manufacturers and policy and frequency regulators in Canada.

Keywords: Broadband, Internet, Remote Communities, Broadband Divide, Wireless Telecommunications, Arctic, Arctic Communities, Wireline Access, Terrestrial Broadband, GIS, Geographic Information Systems, Canadian Broadband Marketplace, Radio Frequency Regulation, Urban, Rural
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: GIS Approach for Assessing Broadband Wireless Market Potential for Rural and Remote Canadian Communities, A

Prof. Michael Sawada

Professor, Laboratory for Applied Geomatics and GIS Science (LAGGISS) Department of Geography, University of Ottawa

Professor Sawada has an established reputation through his scientific publications and well established international research collaborations with distinguished scientists across Canada, Europe and the United States. In the past four years, he has established policy related geomatics research collaborations of national significance with numerous government agencies and private corporations. He has demonstrated significant research, leadership and creativity. Sawada has made a significant impact on the external reputation of our University through applied research undertaken with partners beyond academia. Research partners in the public sector include Statistics Canada, Agriculture Canada, Industry Canada, Communications Research Center, and the Canadian Ice Service. In the private sector, Sawada has research partnerships with Marconi Wireless Inc., Intergraph Corp., Kingsbridge Systems, Icebridge Consulting and BDW Associates. In the non-governmental sector, he has completed research-based learning projects with Amnesty International, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Mr Daniel Cossette

Research Assistant, Laboratory for Applied Geomatics and GIS Science (LAGGISS) Department of Geography, University of Ottawa

Gérald Chouinard

Program Manager, Rural and Remote Broadband Access Communications Research Centre Canada, Industry Canada

Following his graduation in Electrical Engineering in 1975 from the University of Sherbrooke, Mr Chouinard worked five years for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the field of International Technical Relations related to the planning of the Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS). He joined the Space Technology Division of the Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) in 1981 where he pursued his involvement in technical and spectrum-orbit utilization studies related to BSS. In 1986, he joined the newly formed Broadcast Technologies Branch at CRC as the manager of Broadcast Systems Research. In May 1992, he became the director of Broadcast Systems and Communication Networks Research after having acted in this position for a year. Following reorganization at CRC in April 1993, he occupied the position of Director, Radio Broadcast Technologies Research until April 1998 when he became senior advisor to the President on broadcasting. In 2001, he was seconded to Industry Canada's Spectrum Engineering Branch until accepting his current position as senior manager of the Rural and Remote Broadband Access Program at CRC.

Gerry Briggs

Broadband Technology Team, Industry Canada

Gerry Briggs has been with Industry Canada for five years during which he helped form the beginning of the now well- known Broadband Program. He has served as head technical officer of the program, bringing experience from previous work in both the Spectrum Engineering and Telecom Policy Branches of the department. He is chair of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial technical workgroup and leads the First Nations Technology workgroup as well. His work ranges from forming broadband policy across federal government departments to collaborating with research and development of new technologies in broadband such as those being standardized by the Communications Research Centre. Gerry has a strong background in radio-spectrum engineering and a good understanding of issues affecting internet service providers from a policy and business perspective. A graduate of Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick, he quickly developed an interest in the goals of the Broadband Taskforce after joining the department five years ago. He has since become an integral part of the broadband team in Ottawa. As a side interest, Gerry has prototyped a broadband transmission system based on photonics, and he has a keen interest in communications electronics.

Dr Peter Johnson

Chair, Canadian Polar Commission, Government of Canada

Peter Johnson was educated at Leeds University, England, and has been Professor, Department of Geography at the University of Ottawa since 1985. He is a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America and has been committed to northern science throughout his career in teaching and research. He has worked in a number of national and international capacities, many with a particular focus on northern environments: working groups of the International Commission on Snow and Ice; member and chair of the Sub-Committee on Glaciers of the Associate Committee on Hydrology; and representative of the Canadian Association of Geographers on the Canadian Geoscience Council. Prof. Johnson is Canada's representative on the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) Council.

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