Implementation Challenges for Community Telecommunication Networks in Canada

Dr. Sylvie Albert,
Dr. Rolland LeBrasseur
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In Canada there are approximately 80 recently established community telecommunication networks. Their goals centre on telecommunication infrastructure projects, online applications, and economic development. Stakeholders include a variety of public and private sector organizations. These networks have the potential to enable the social and economic development of their communities.

Stakeholders are concerned about the medium-term viability of their networks and the challenges found in urban and rural settings. Several authors agree that successful networks should be active on a wide front of activities including infrastructure improvements, community partnerships, skill development, innovative online services or application, and economic development initiatives.

To understand the implementation issues, a Canadian survey of community networks was executed in 2003. The questionnaire was composed of thirty items on a five-point likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Seventy-two respondents completed the survey. A principal components factor analysis identified six independent factors:

F1 Striving for economic development, partnerships, and advanced applications

F2 Designing and implementing effective infrastructure

F3 Ensuring community skills and training

F4 Ensuring broad decision-making input

F5 Managing change and risk

F6 Ensuring community access and applications

In general, respondents believed they were active on Factors 1, 2 and 4 (means of 4.0 and higher), less active on Factor 3 (means of 3.5), and variable on Factors 5 and 6 (low and high means). Additional statistical tests (ANOVA) indicated that community size was significant only for F1 and F4. Communities with less than 10,000 or more than 500,000 people scored relatively low on economic development (F1). Communities with less than 10,000 or 10,001-50,000 people scored low on decision-making input.

The findings suggest that implementing community networks can be understood as a number of independent factors of which a few are sensitive to population concentration. Policy implications for the medium-term implementation of these community networks are addressed.

Keywords: Community Networks, Implementation, Survey
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Implementation Challenges for Community Telecommunication Networks in Canada

Dr. Sylvie Albert

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Laurentian University

Dr. Sylvie Albert is a recognized author and speaker on the smart community movement. She has owned and operated a management consulting firm specializing in telecommunication networks since 1997 and has developed more than a dozen projects across Canada including developing the business case for a fibre-optic network linking all Colleges, Universities, and Research Centres in Ontario. She was a member of the Ontario Telecommunication Access Partnership Board, and a member of the Board of Director of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and its telecommunication committee. In these roles, Dr. Albert reviewed dozens of proposals each month and recommended investments for developing innovative projects at the community or regional level. She was also asked to sit on the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board and provide advice on the strategic direction of the Province. Dr. Albert published a book entitled “Create a Smart Community”, utilized by federal and provincial officials to train Board members and staff. The book is based on her doctoral dissertation. She was also a 2003, 2004 and 2005 judge of the seven finalists for the annual Intelligent Community Award.

Dr. Rolland LeBrasseur

Associate Professor, Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Laurentian University

Dr. Rolland LeBrasseur is an eclectic researcher of organizational behaviour and small business development. He obtained his PhD from Warwick University in 1995 under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Pettigrew. a recognized authority on managing change research. Dr. LeBrasseur has completed studies of high technology companies, hospitals, and new small businesses. He has published in a variety of Canadian, US, and international journals, and is currently involved in the international project on entrepreneurship (GEM) involving over 30 countries. He has received three best paper awards based on a longitudinal study of survival of new businesses. He is Chair of the Small Business Development Research Group, and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (JSBE). In the autumn of 2005, he has formalized his association with ICF and will act as judge, along with Dr. Albert, for the selection of the eighteen top applicants for the International Intelligent Community Award.

Ref: T06P0262