The ability to communicate is one of the critical attributes of human beings and an essential factor in fostering social, economic development. Indeed, communication plays a vital role in enhancing human development in a world that is continuously undergoing social change. Indeed, as the world adopts a higher degree of democracy and market economy, there is a need for an efficient and convenient means of communication. While many factors have played a role in enhancing communication, technology is undoubtedly one aspect that has single-handedly revolutionized information sharing in hitherto unimaginable ways. Indeed, the use of such devices as smartphones, radios, and computers has made it easy to gather and share information. Therefore, the continued use of technology in broadcasting and communication requires the Canadian government to play an active role in the form of support and regulation to enable industry players to realize their full potential.
This report’s primary intention is to express my appreciation of digital technology and its role in fostering human development through information sharing. As an avid follower of technology, I cannot fail to notice the essential role that digital communication platforms play in enhancing communication and supporting essential economic sectors such as health and economic industries that are vital for human development and advancement. Equally, my interest in this field has exposed me to the challenges facing the industry. Such challenges undermine information sharing in fundamental ways and ultimately make it challenging to foster social change and development.
I have noted several advantages that the sector presents throughout my involvement in the digital communication and broadcasting sector. They include supporting dialogue, fostering partnerships between like-minded individuals, and providing a cost-effective method of gathering and sharing information.
The primary objective of any form of communication is to enable people to share information that can enhance understanding and foster unity. Indeed, the ability to communicate enables people to instigate the social changes necessary for sustainable development. While traditional communication methods have been instrumental in initiating such changes, the emergence of technology and related digital platforms provided society with a superior method of sharing crucial information and fostering social change. Indeed, digital platforms enable participatory communication that is necessary for productive dialogue (Major & Warwick, 2019). In sum, digital platforms provide everyone with an opportunity to air their opinions hence facilitating genuine dialogue.
The realities of the modern world, chiefly among them globalization, has made it challenging for people to meet regularly, making it difficult to develop trust. However, with digital communication platforms, people can surmount communication barriers and establish strong bonds and trust (Guerrini, 2017). For example, video conferencing platforms make face-to-face communication possible, therefore surmounting the challenges posed by differences in time and space (Guerrini, 2017) `. By enabling virtual face to face communication, these platforms facilitate trust and help parties establish strong bonds. In conclusion, digital communication enhances human development by enabling people to communicate effectively and build trust despite geographical barriers.
Human development and progress require close cooperation and partnership, especially in developing critical ideas, concepts, and products. Digital communication platforms play an essential role in fostering such partnerships by enabling different actors to organize themselves, form partnerships, and share ideas that can enhance society’s progress (“The rise of digital partnerships: fad or way forward?”, 2016). For example, online platforms provide like-minded people from different parts and cultures to collaborate and share ideas and launch joint activities that can inform social change (“The rise of digital partnerships: fad or way forward?”, 2016). In general, digital communication platforms create an avenue where people can form meaningful partnerships regardless of culture and geographical location.
Cost-effective method of communication
Undoubtedly, information is one of the most powerful tools in the contemporary world. Due to the importance of knowledge, there is a need for cheap and convenient methods through which people can gather and share information. Compared to traditional communication methods digital communication platforms are much cheaper and convenient (Khan & Siddiqui, 2013). Indeed, advancement in technology has made it possible for people to own gadgets such as smartphones, which are, in many respects, more cost-effective and convenient. Easy accessibility and use of such devices make it easy to gather, analyse, and share information, contributing to human development. Conclusively, digital communication platforms enhance development by providing a cost-effective and convenient method of collecting and relaying information.
Generally, the roles of digital communication platforms highlighted above are just but a few examples of the advantages presented by advancements in technology regarding communication and broadcasting. Given that information is a powerful tool in the modern world, the ability to collect and share information conveniently is essential for progress. Unfortunately, without adequate support and regulation from essential stakeholders such as the government, establishing a productive digital communication sector would be challenging. The need to secure and build on the gains described above is the overarching objective behind my report, analyses, and recommendations.
Background on Canada’s Digital Communication Landscape
Canada is one of the world’s largest economies and one of the most advanced nations regarding communication technologies. Indeed, just like its southern neighbour, USA, Canada boasts of a vibrant technology industry characterized by significant extensive advancement and use of modern software and computer service industries. Presently, over 43200 companies are operating in the country’s information and communication industry, demonstrating the advancement in technology and related services (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). Unfortunately, the high number of technology firms does not necessarily translate into mass employment. The majority of ICT firms are relatively small and do not offer employment opportunities to many. For example, 35000 of the technology companies employ fewer than ten people (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). Only 105 firms considered large companies to employ more than 500 individuals (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). Overall, Canada has an established technology industry consisting of several small firms employing an average of ten workers, and a few large firms employing more than 500 employees.
The ICT industry has significant impacts on Canada’s economy. Indeed, besides providing a source of employment, technology firms are a critical source of revenue. For instance, in 2019, the technology and communication sector contributed around $94.1, accounting for approximately 4.8% of the GDP (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). Besides, the sector grew by an average of 4.8%, outpacing the 1.5% average national economic growth (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). The expansion in the technology sector was attributable to increased growth in key segments such as software and computer services and communication services. Precisely, the former expanded by 7.2% while the former grew by 2.2% (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). Notably, the information communication and technology sector in Canada has been experiencing consistent growth, an aspect that explains the high number of digital technology firms. For example, since 2013, the technology sector has grown continuously at an average of 4.1% compared to the average national economic growth of 2.0% (“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, n.d.). In general, Canada’s ICT industry continues to grow at a rate higher than the national average.
Legal Framework and Government Intervention
Canada has a vibrant legal framework for overseeing and regulating the communication and technology industry. For example, the governments regulate the industry through several laws ranging from the broadcasting act, copyright act, income tax act, foreign publishers advertising services act, investment Canada act, telecommunications act, radiocommunication act, and the CRTC act (“Creative Canada Policy Framework”, n.d.). Through such laws, the government can control and support the technology industry to ensure it has a maximum impact on the economy and people’s lives. On the whole, Canada uses an established legal framework consisting of various parliamentary acts to oversee the technology and communication industry in order to root out malpractices and ensure maximum benefits to the citizens.
Besides the legislative acts, the Canadian government uses several other methods to support the communication and technology industry. For example, through the creative Canada policy, the government aims to support and expand the creative and digital technology industries in order to spur economic growth and development (“Creative Canada Policy Framework”, n.d.). The overarching aim of this policy is to build on the successes of the creative, communication, and technology industries while providing more opportunities for the sector to create jobs and contribute to economic growth (“Creative Canada Policy Framework”, n.d.). Besides providing technical support, the creative Canada policy aims to strengthen the existing regulatory framework by updating it by introducing new initiatives that can help the nation’s creative, communication and technology sectors compete favourably at the global stage (“Creative Canada Policy Framework”, n.d.). Overall, in addition to a vibrant legal framework, the Canadian government supports the communication and technology sector through creative initiatives that can help the country compete at the international level.
Challenges Facing the Communication Industry
Despite the tremendous growth, government support, and adequate regulation, Canada’s digital communication and technology industry faces fundamental challenges that impede its ability to operate optimally. Chiefly among these challenges is stiff competition from American companies and the inability to cover all regions, with rural areas remaining disadvantaged.
Competition from US Companies
Although Canada boasts of vibrant digital communication industry, the nation faces substantial challenges competing with its more advanced neighbour in the south. In particular, most promising technology start-ups usually migrate to the US, where human resources and funding are abundant (Wolfe, 2019). Also, several high-level start-ups are bought by foreign investors. The acquisition of Canadian firms by American investors causes several disadvantages. For example, the absence of top-grade organizations in the nation’s digital technology landscape creates significant gaps in human resources (Wolfe, 2019). Precisely, migration of competent personnel to other countries denies Canada’s technology industry the opportunity to learn from experienced people hence making it challenging to develop future managers that can manage the nation’s industry (Wolfe, 2019). On the whole, competition for the top talent by American firms and investors leads to the loss of a talented workforce, making it challenging to develop Canada’s digital communication industry.
Limited Coverage in Rural Areas.
Despite the high number of digital communication and technology companies operating in Canada, a significant portion of the rural population is locked out of the benefits of their advanced digital industry. The predicament faced by this group is attributable to low competition among internet service providers and their emphasis on urban areas. Although over 500 ISPs are operating in the country, a few large companies dominate the industry (McNally, Rathi, Joseph, Evaniew, & Adkisson, 2018). Indeed, five ISP’s control over 73% of the industry (McNally et al., 2018). Unfortunately, these players concentrate mostly on the urban areas, denying the majority of rural residents the opportunity to participate in the digital economy. On the whole, the concentration of ISPs, crucial players in the digital communication landscape in the urban areas, makes it challenging for rural Canadians to participate in the digital communication sector.
Establishing an ICT Venture Capital Fund
Access to funds is vital for the growth of technology companies. Unfortunately, the lack of funds, especially among start-ups, is a significant hindrance to Canada’s digital communication sector’s growth and development. This aspect explains why the majority of new companies and talented individuals prefer to migrate to the US, where funding and support are abundant. In order to spur growth and retain talent, the Canadian government should establish an ICT venture capital fund. Providing capital to start-ups can help in research and development and establishment of innovation labs for nurturing and developing creative ideas (Manchanda & Muralidharan, 2014). Indeed, with such support, Canadian technology firms can create the potential necessary to compete not just with their American counterparts but also at the global level.
Establish A Foreign ICT Worker Program
The loss of skilled ICT workers to American companies has been a significant hindrance to Canada’s digital communication industry’s growth and development. Indeed, the absence of experienced managers denies Canada’s technology industry the opportunity to create future managers and leaders, therefore dealing a fatal blow to the industry’s future development. In order to alleviate the consequences of such a brain drain, the Canadian government should establish a foreign worker program targeting ICT workers. Such a policy would facilitate the absorption of skilled ICT workers into the country’s technology sector, therefore, filling the gaps created by the migration of talented Canadians to the US. However, such a program should only aim to fill the positions requiring an expertise that is not available among the local workforce. In general, establishing a foreign worker program targeting skilled ICT workers can help recruit talented foreign personnel and counter the negative consequences occasioned by the migration of skilled Canadian individuals to the US.
Enact A Universal Service Policy
The divide between rural and urban dwellers concerning access to digital communication services is a significant blot in Canada’s ICT sector. In particular, the unavailability of internet and technology services in rural areas locks out a crucial portion of the population out of the digital economy, causing major inconveniences. In order to solve this challenge, the Canadian government should enact a universal service policy and integrate it into all the acts and laws relating to communication and technology. Such a policy would help provide affordable broadband services to all Canadians regardless of location, therefore enabling everyone to participate in the digital economy (Middleton, 2017). In conclusion, creating a universal service policy would help extend broadband services to all areas, therefore bridging the accessibility divide between rural and urban areas.
Generally, Canada has a vibrant digital communication industry supported by a high number of technology firms. However, most of these companies are small in size and only employ an average of ten employees. Whereas there are over 43000 technology companies, only 105 are considered significant enough to employ more than 500 workers. These statistics demonstrate some weaknesses in the country’s technology landscape. Competition from US companies for Canadian talent is the primary reason for the small number of established technology firms. Low rural coverage by ISPs is another factor undermining Canada’s digital communication sector. Solving such challenges will necessitate the establishment of an ICT venture capital fund to support creative ideas and the enactment of a universal service policy that can guarantee broadband access to all.
“Canadian ICT Sector Profile 2019”, (n.d.) Government of Canada, n.d. Retrieved from www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ict-tic.nsf/eng/h_it07229.html
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