Broadband itself is not an economic development driver

We have talked about this before but I found this blog on the subject particularly interesting.   The Washington Post article is particularly interesting.     I think that, like roads, many politicians believe that spending money to build a broadband telecom network is an economic development end in and off itself.   But when Bathurst and Edmundston combined saw only 90 net new jobs in ICT from 1996 to 2006 – it is clear that broadband (which has been available in both communities for a long time) is not the issue.

14 thoughts on “Broadband itself is not an economic development driver

  1. It’s lack of education, immigration (circa out migration & focal points on old blue collar industry development). You can have broadband up the ying yang, but if no one knows the basics of internet use or doesn’t even know how to read, chances are there won’t a high use of software programs, high end internet exchange or web development).

    It’s like that beer guzzling fat guy with the gym equipment collecting dust in his basement. 🙂

    *For the record, I have nothing against beer guzzling fat guys.

  2. Broadband is like roads. Roads without cars are pointless. Cars without reasons to drive them are pointless. So it is with broadband, which in the normal run of things I’m a big proponent of. But alone, there is no point. As the blog David refers to quotes from a comment, it worked where the city, “… took a holistic view of its workforce with support programs, and they see it as a long process.”

    It’s not an end but a means of facilitating. Using the road analogy, is the road primarily intended for pleasant Sunday drives or is it intended to facilitate commercial transport? Not that one excludes the other, but when it comes to jobs and overall economic activity you really need to see something like broadband as a foundation from which to build. So, what’s the broadband for? And how do we follow up in order to ensure an economic benefit? That is where the ball is being dropped.

  3. My Daughter just returned from a conference at the Washington conference center. No wireless, no free internet in the motel, no fridge in the hotel, a fancy enough one.and etc.
    Beside the fact that the huge conference on Education was things they already knew and employed here in NB, since Mr. Lamrock. Bumped airlines, one in New York which gave them a chance to see a great city. Lets say glad to be back in English part of And her a self learned French teacher. Smoke that!

  4. We all know what the Auto pact and developing the St. Laurence river as a gateway to central Canada did to the Atlantic region. Infrastructure matters bigtime.

    That said, if a Micheal Ignatieff government seriously considers a high-speed rail line between Quebec City and Windsor, will this effect Atlantic Canada in a positive or negative fashion? Ya have to wonder.

  5. I don’t have to wonder! Vote buying propositions rarely work. Same with his east west energy talk. The guys a teacher, of kids.

  6. There is a difference between broadband intended for home use and commercial broadband. Having everyone connected at home is great for communicating, having an infrastructure in place that allows commercial projects to flourish is a whole other kettle of fish. In NB we have basically two providers with extensive networks, they control the price and availability of commercial connectivity services.

    Back to the road analogy, everyone has a Tercel, works great, the roads are good enough to get us around, does this stir economic development, not much. Where does economic development happen, where the big roads and rail lines pass, where the infrastructure can handle massive movement of capital, in NB that type of communications infrastructure is limited and expensive.

    My point is, lets not confuse broadband access for the home and its ED impact with a more advanced communications infrastructure.

  7. “We all know what the Auto pact and developing the St. Laurence river as a gateway to central Canada did to the Atlantic region. ”

    How much equalization would the Maritimes have lost out on if the massive economic development due to the above policies were not enacted? We’d likely be worse off back east had Ontario/Quebec not developed industrially as they have.

    High-speed rail from Windsor to Quebec would be a good idea. Extending the line to Halifax would be even better.

  8. Massive infrastructure projects, favourable government policies, TPC loans @ Industry Canada, etc., etc. They all favour Quebec and Ontario’s ability to sustain and maintain two major industries (auto & aerospace). We’re left with the sloppy seconds…or in our case dwindling staple industries…oops, I mean more equalization and a dependency on EI. Wonder how long it be (or how much money will be allocated in the next year) to have government policy reverse the “have not” status of Ontario? Probably less time then the wait we’ve had. 🙂

  9. David! Someone who thinks economic development is failing because of, er well, because of, Well you read it!!

    Gregory F. Gillis

    The recent editorial in the Telegraph-Journal “Unite to fight illiteracy” (April 17) underscored the vital issue of literacy in New Brunswick and reiterated the request of the minister of education for volunteers to assist with solving the problem. I would like to take this opportunity to offer one suggestion on a solution, based on our firm’s practical experience with this challenge.

    The hard reality is that New Brunswick literacy scores are among the lowest in Canada. Research has indicated the critical importance of the early development of literacy skills. Until Grade 3, children “learn to read-” after Grade 3, they are expected to “read to learn.” Those who do not make this transition successfully risk increased difficulties in their progression through school and, ultimately, into the work force.

    The resulting social and economic costs associated with low literacy are dramatic and well-documented, as are the crucial benefits of resolving this situation in our province without delay.

    Quite the contradiction to what the “experts” say.

  10. I am not sure your point here. Literacy is an important social objective and there are strong correlations between literacy and economic opportunity. My only point on this all along is that there is also a very strong correlation between education levels and out-migration. The more educated a person is the more likely they are to leave New Brunswick. We need economic development policy that runs a parallel track with education policy or we will continue our time honoured tradition of being the labour market incubator for Ontario.

  11. It was a simple point, end the 40 year emphasis on bilingualism and work at educating our kids in their language. Are people really just starting to clue in?

  12. @Anonymous
    Yes, IT is primarily English. I personally don’t see the issue with that. (I’m not Trolling, I promise)
    The technology is produced for and by primarily English speaking areas of the world, the majority of the documentation of anything of IT value is written primarily in English, you have to either be English, or speak/read very good English to be able to work with it properly.
    It’s just a fact of the matter, it’s not meant to somehow discriminate against French people. If companies choose to translate their products and documentation into French, and offer their training programs in French, great. But allot Do not.
    And just because the technology is English produced, and supported by primarily English (or Asian) Markets, does that make it a dangerous or somehow less of a good thing for New Brunswick? – Is it not French/Bilingual enough for us?

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