Universal Connectivity and Market Liberalization: Competing Policy Goals in Government Initiatives for Broadband Connectivity in Rural and Northern Parts of Canada

Teresa Leigh Ritter
Communication and Culture, York University
May, 2006
 

Abstract

Broadband, or high-speed internet, is unavailable in many rural and northern parts of Canada where such services are difficult and expensive to implement. Governments have developed initiatives to enable broadband in these areas, including the federal Broadband for Rural and Northern Development (BRAND) and the provincial Connect Ontario: Broadband Regional Access (COBRA) programs. Here, BRAND and COBRA’s abilities to extend publicly available broadband throughout rural and northern parts of Canada are evaluated as universal servive policies according to the perceptions of stakeholders concerned with their implementation, finding that the programs ultimately fail. While BRAND and COBRA both purport to support universal connectivity and national parity by subsidizing broadband connectivity in non-market regions, the goals of market liberalization and global competitiveness constantly overpower. While the former goals require ongoing support, the programs actually serve to facilitate the establishment of market determined broadband in profitable regions through the provision of one-time funding.
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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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