TORONTO – It was a stark slide which showed a big red “X” beside Canada.
Ibrahim Gedeon (pictured), the outspoken chief technology officer of Telus, noted during his keynote presentation at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto Monday morning that Canada is behind other countries when it comes to the spectrum upon which much of the world will soon be deploying 5G.
In a speech where he reminded the crowd the first inkling of what 5G might be was dreamed up at a gathering of wireless CTOs in Vancouver in 2013, Canada is now behind many other countries in making spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range available to providers just beginning their deployment of next generation technologies.
“For the last three years, the mobility spectrum for 5G is 3.5 GHz,” he told CTS delegates, “yet our plan in Canada to make that available is, I would say, 2020? We have a number of partners (Nokia, Ericsson, Siena, Huawei), and I would like you to put yourself in their shoes because I am empathetic. If we live in a country where they’re not going to be able to demonstrate something (because the spectrum hasn’t yet been auctioned), how much do you think they would invest in making sure something like this happens?
“Do you think there will be a lot of firsts in Canada when we don’t have the opportunity for them to grow and try things?” Gedeon asked.
On the slide showing countries which have pushed 3.5 GHz to its carriers, Britain, Australia and the U.S. is ahead, as well as India, Saudi Arabia and China, among others.
Canada is innovating on two legs of the stool, where technology is developing and carriers are investing in networks, but “we need all three legs,” including regulatory, he added.
Without that, Gedeon said Telus’ tech partners “are a little bit concerned about how much they invest in Canada when they’re not able to actually leverage the technology properly for what they want to do.”
So, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains is coming to speak to the conference on Wednesday and Gedeon was asked what he wanted to say to him.
He re-iterated that with the world fixated on the 3.5 GHz range for millimetre wave deployment, “if the minister would be kind enough to revisit with ISED to follow the global ecosystem on devices and technology, I think it would be great for us.”
Photo by Oleg Donner, Toronto.