Monday, June 13, 2011

Setting a high tech government funded asset adrift

Here is an item today that may be an indicator of the ideological underpinnings of this government shining through.

See this post from Dwayne Winseck at the site on the government's decision to no longer fund Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network (aka the "CANARIE network) as of 2012, confirmed in the budget. CANARIE has been a publicly funded entity since its inception and acts as an innovative, highly resourced internet catalyst for research, application development in conjunction with the private sector, promoting internet connectivity throughout Canada, etc. Here is Tony Clement enjoying himself at a CANARIE event in February.

This may be the issue with CANARIE and why its funding is set to "sunset" as it is being put:
But CANARIE has, since it’s inception, been designed as a non-commercial entity that aims to further the development of Next Generation Networks and applications for them, rather than either an extension of or competitor to the major commercial network providers in Canada: Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Quebecor and Cogeco. It develops and experiments with networks that are far more advanced than what commercial providers offer and its networks are based on inviolable commitment to the principles long associated with the Internet: open systems and interoperability.

At a time when those principles are under assault, and the commercial development of networks in Canada lags its major global counterparts, CANARIE in a sense has competed with the private sector by showing what is feasible, and what can be done.
It seems to be a government backed research champion that pushes research limits and provides leadership in the field but works cooperatively with the private sector. The government's decision to defund runs counter to the government's stated objectives in 2007:
The government is working toward becoming a world leader in research and technology. CANARIE embodies some of the strategy’s key goals, such as promoting world-class levels fo scientific and technological excellence, and creating partnerships to accelerate the pace of discovery and commercialization in Canada.
Winseck follows up on the OpenMedia post above with a piece at his own site where the notion of CANARIE being independently funded is canvassed. Begging the question, however, of who will fund it now. Private contributors who would be interested would likely be some of those major tech actors who presently sit on CANARIE's board. Canada has funded the entity for "decades" and now it is set to be cast adrift, leader that it is in research, looking for funding. Sounds like a sort of privatization in the offing of a taxpayer funded gem and it deserves some attention.