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CHARBONNEAU - Merge CBC with Canada Post

September 22, 2016 5:52 A.M.
Canada Post/CBC.

THE CBC and Canada Post are both in the business of delivering information, so why not bring them together into a single entity?

They are both crown corporations; they are both undergoing radical transitions to digital communication; and each has what the other could use.

Canada Post has 6,200 public and privately operated offices across Canada. CBC has hundreds of TV and radio transmitters. Canada Post serves a larger area than any other country. CBC broadcasts to every corner of Canada in English, French and eight aboriginal languages.

The new entity, the Canadian Communication Corporation would not only consolidate the resources of the CBC and Canada Post, it would expand into the mobile wireless business to provide some needed competition.

Canadians now pay some of the highest cell phone prices for some of the worst service in the industrialized world, reports the Huffington Post (July 18. 2013). In a study of prices in 34 OECD countries, Canada is 25th for high priced wireless phones. We are dead last when it comes to the number of people owning a cell phone.

The former Conservative government tried without success to encourage more independent wireless carriers into the market. The CCC would sell phones at Canada Post outlets and use CBC transmission towers to carry the service. For example, a customer in Iqaluit, Nunavut, could pick up the phone at the post office and receive service from a cell transmitter mounted on the tower that broadcasts CBM-FM-3.

Canada’s North lags behind in internet access. Nunavut tourism advises “Internet service is limited in Nunavut and slower than elsewhere. Wi-Fi service is uncommon. Visitors to Nunavut should not plan to spend much time on the internet.”

Prof. Dwayne Winseck of Carleton University lists other advantages of the CCC: “Blanket cities with open access, lighting up the vast stock of underused and unused municipal dark fibre (CCPA Monitor, July/August, 2016).” By “dark fibre,” he means optical fibre that is not being used to capacity. As I reported in my column Kamloops Community Network -a vision unfulfilled (July 22, 2014), Kamloops has a lot of dark fibre, the legacy of bold plan of former city technology manager Frank Mayhood.

“Extend public Wi-Fi in cities across Canada,” adds Winseck, “and broadband access to underused and unserved people in rural, remote and poor urban areas.” Rural service is not a luxury; it’s a necessity in business and education. The mayor of Caledon, Ontario, says that some students have their parents drive to the parking lot of a public library just so they can upload homework assignments (National Post, Nov. 23, 2015).

The Trudeau government will give $16 million to internet service providers in B.C. to provide better rural access. If it makes sense to give money to private providers, it makes even more sense to invest in the CCC.

While there is a scarcity of internet service in Canada, there is also a looming news crisis. The CCC could not only deliver the news, it could produce it through the CBC’s capacity.

The business model of news delivery is failing as we get news echoed from ever fewer sources. A newly configured public broadcaster could fill that vacuum.

David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at http://www.eyeviewkamloops.wordpress.com.

Grouchy 1 says:
September 22, 2016 05:32pm

It will never fly, simply because it makes too much sense. I'm sure also, the the big telecom players will line politicians election campaigns with lots of money to try and prevent the competition.

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Darryl Schmidt says:
September 22, 2016 11:58am

Providing cell phone and wifi service is quite a bit more complicated than putting some antennas on top of existing towers.

To provide acceptable levels of service there would have to be a massive build up infrastructure.

Cell phone towers have a range of about 35-70Km but can be drastically reduced by local topography as we Canadians know all to well. It wasn't that long ago that you couldn't get a cellular signal in Aberdeen Mall :)

The range on a WiFi signal is even worse. Using current technology and standards like IEEE 802.11N, the range is roughly 30-35 meters.

Personally, I think for rural and remote areas we should be looking at LEO satellites.

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