OTTAWA — Canadian enterprises have to embrace IP technology or be left behind by other countries who will do it faster, a panel of IT experts warned Tuesday.

The discussion, which was part of a two-day e-commerce event, focused on the future evolution of telecommunications networks, new broadband

applications and services and examined the intelligent infrastructure and its impact on the changing roles of organizations and institutions.

Allstream president John MacDonald, who referred to himself as a simple guy from Cape Breton, said it was people that will drive the e-economy forward. He used “”intelligent infrastructure”” as the basis for his points and stressed that the industry needs to ensure security and that the technology is simple.

Research predicts that home broadband use will sore to 7.2 million users by the 2008, up from 4.8 currently. MacDonald warned that the widespread belief that the toughest part of the infrastructure is laid, is false.

“”We must get higher speeds and greater capacity,”” he said. “”Voice-over-IP is yesterday’s news. It’s x over IP and x is for anything.””

MacDonald proposed a solution of altering the input side of the educational system, by ensuring all students have exposure to new tools. He also said we must encourage what he called, “”the smart people”” to pursue PhDs and dive into research.

Cogeco president Louis Audet painted a grimmer picture of the industry and said the 2001 recommendations of the National Broadband Task Force – which included, in part, calls for all Canadians to have equitable and affordable access to broadband services and a focus on communities where the private sector is unlikely to deliver services – have been largely ignored and forgotten.

“”The government decided not to act,”” he said, waving the report as a prop.

Audet called on harmony with the provincial government to eliminate capital taxes. He also called for a law to monitor satellite signal piracy and suggested working closer with the U.S. government.

David Mitchell, associate dean, University of Calgary, responded that the broadband report still lives in Alberta and described the province as a leader in the industry.

“”When you are in a place where you are not troubled by debt, by cash flow or political opposition, things can move fast,”” he said.

Mitchell said 95 per cent of communities will be connected and said it’s important for all pieces of the industry, from academia, to business and government, to work together.

Isabelle Courville, president of Bell Canada‘s enterprise group, said that the technology that the industry has been dreaming about for decades has arrived. She used the ability to do real-time surgery on the public Internet, as an example.

“”IP is everywhere, so we need to change our network and it is a huge challenge and investment for all to get into the IP world,”” she said, adding that companies are telling her that there is an increase in productivity by switching to IP.


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