Friday, February 27, 2009

Good News: Fort Chipewyan is Using Video Conferencing.

Here is a great piece of counter-intuitive good news that I just have to share. The Athabascan Chipewyan First Nation has just installed a high definition Lifesize video conferencing system in Fort Chipewyan, one of the most remote communities in Alberta. They are adding even more video conference capacity to their operations in Fort McMurray now too.

I will now be able to work with them face to face from my office with my system, on an on-going basis, without the time and cost of travel, accommodation and meals etc. The productivity increases and the improved effectiveness of our working together will be enormous. As well as well as improved communications and convenience we all will reduced carbon footprint with less travel.

Fort Chipewyan is one of the most remote and vulnerable communities in the province. The ACFN gets it and has taken a step into 21st century connectivity with this facility. Well done Chief Adam and congratulation to the rest of your crew in making this move.

It used to be that 70% of our communications was influenced by visual inputs. Apparently newer studies are showing this has increased to over 80% of visual clues that have influence over the effectiveness of our human communication. As the Internet goes more to video and we have had more television exposure over the years, the more importance we are placing on our visual communications. Video conferencing is a natural response to provide that need for improved visual communications.

I am using video-conferencing more and more in my day-to-day work and am encouraging everyone I can to adopt this technology for the obvious reasons. I get excited about new technology and the positive changes it can make to our world. I am an early adapter more than an early adporter. Video conferencing like I am using is now accessible physically and fiscally for small businesses like mine. It has been one of the big changes from technology that I am really excited about.

I hope the CRTC requires Telus to allow access to their unloaded copper telephone lines in Alberta A formal application has been made to the CRTC for that very purpose and a final decision from the Commission is expected shortly. If successful then anyone with a land line telephone service will be able to have this copper wire capacity used for Internet and other high valued added services like video conferencing. Imagine having that in you business, home or organization in rural Alberta. That will level the playing field for rural Albertans significanlty.

Connect those telephone lines to the SuperNet and all of a sudden rural Alberta's last mile SuperNet connectivity problem is also solved. Then more citizens and businesses all over rural Alberta willthen have fibre level internet services including high definition video access to the world using the power of the SuperNet. It can be there for them at a fraction of the cost of fibre and not expensive fibre installation costs. Telephone lines are everywhere in Alberta. They are very familiar and reliable technology that does not require expensive fibre optic installations. As one telephony consultant said recently, "Copper wire may be buried but it is not dead."

The SuperNet has enormous potential as an economic lever and a competative differentiator for our province. Alberta's SuperNet is one of the most powerful and unique 21st century infrastructures on the planet. Now all we need to do is to get Albertans hooked up and using it. Some policy decisions at the CRTC and shared SuperNet access policies need to come together to make this happen.