Industry Canada leads delegation to Swiss telecom show

The federal government is sending a delegation to a trade show in Geneva, Switzerland in order to tell the world that Canada is a good location for telecommunications firms.

Telecom World 2003, hosted by the International

Telecommunications Union, runs until Saturday.

The Canadian delegation is headed by Michael Binder, Industry Canada’s assistant deputy minister for spectrum, information technologies and telecommunications.

Industry Canada will be promoting the message that Canada is a “”good place to invest”” for equipment manufacturers, Binder said.

In an interview with, Binder noted several multinational equipment manufacturers, such as Alcatel, Ericsson and Cisco, have operations in Canada.

In addition to Nortel Networks, Canada has plenty of home-grown telecommunications equipment manufacturers, such as Montreal-based SR Telecom, which specializes in fixed wireless technology and has sold gear to carriers in Europe, the Middle East and southeast Asia, Binder added.

SR Telecom will be demonstrating its Angel, Aistar and SR500 products, and the company’s CEO, Pierre St-Arnaud, will be participating in a panel discussion titled “”Building Awareness and Understanding to Promote ICT Use.””

Binder said there are plenty of opportunities outside of North America and Europe, because many countries do not have an advanced wireline infrastructure, and as a result the incumbent carriers are installing next-generation equipment such as fixed wireless.

Several Canadian companies, including Nortel, NTG Clarity Networks, Sierra Wireless and Wi-LAN, are exhibiting at the show.

Calgary-based Wi-LAN, which makes Wideband Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (W-OFDM) technology, demonstrated a fixed broadband network Monday.

Industry Canada has a pavilion at Telecom World and is demonstrating broadband applications such as telemedicine and distance learning.

Binder said compared to the rest of the world, Canada has an advanced broadband infrastructure over both wired networks and over wireless and satellite-based infrastructure.

According to Industry Canada, Canada’s information and communications technologies (ICT) sector contributed $58.8 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product last year. The sector has grown by 12.4 per cent per year since 1997 (compared to 3.7 per cent per year for the economy as a whole).

Canadian ICT firms exported $21 billion worth of products last year, and $16.6 billion of these were sold in the U.S.

The value of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. currency has risen over the last few months — driving up the price of exports. Binder is not concerned that this will adversely affect Canada’s ICT sector — “”as long as it doesn’t go way up.””

He added a rise in the value of Canadian currency can have some benefits, because it would be less expensive for high-tech firms to import components.

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