THUNDER BAY – As the end of the year approaches, many people start looking back at the past year. For me, the future is ahead of us, not in our rear-view mirror. So looking forward to 2011 and beyond in our city what can we expect?
The decisions made in the past twelve months will determine the future, but then so two will the actions that political leaders, community leaders, and active engaged citizens will make are also going to guide our future.
I suspect that one of the biggest changes in our community and region over the coming year will be impacted by the growing importance of the Internet. There are tens of thousands of people online in our region. Through the Internet, information is now travelling at a speed faster than at anytime in our region’s history.
Think of it, when Fort William was established by the Northwest Company getting a message to England and back could take as long as two years. Today that can be in milli-seconds.
Only fifty years ago, news could still take days to make it to the region.
It has been about two hundred years since Fort William was established. That short period in real terms represents a massive shift in the speed of communications.
The changes in communications represent real opportunity for our entire region. An announcement a few weeks ago that seeks to expand Broadband Internet further into the North may well prove the most significant decision of the year, which will change our future.
People can now live in our region and enjoy all the life-style choices that make our area such an attractive area, and yet Internet-commute to the world’s biggest markets.
The announcement made on November 19th of the Northwestern Ontario Broadband Expansion Initiative consists of five projects to be completed over four years and will span more than 2,300 kilometres when complete. Internet and other broadband services that are currently delivered to these 26 remote communities rely on dated satellite and microwave technology.
The impact on the more distant communities in our region will also make, one hopes for very positive change too. The key will be in companies and First Nations working together to make sure that this move is a collaborative effort.
Another major announcement that will impact the future of our region came with TBaytel and Rogers teaming up to offer better wireless phone service. Once again, the focus is on communications.
TBaytel has brought in some potential game-changers in recent months. The company’s move into television may prove to move the company into the strongest position in the local market of any of the competitors. Inversely it could shift TBaytel into becoming a very attractive target for a buy-out by either Shaw or Rogers.
Regardless of what happens, the decisions implemented will impact the communications field in the Thunder Bay region.