«Delivered to | Northern Communications Information Systems Working Group c/o Government of Yukon Delivered by | Nordicity Date | Foreword The Project ...»
1. Current Status: Bandwidth Availability, Quality of Service, and Redundancy Bandwidth Availability In general, all focus group participants agreed that current bandwidth speeds made available by operators and other service providers are inadequate for even current needs. When the availability of the bandwidth is met, the cost/afordability become the issue. While opinions difered in terms of level of (dis)satisfaction with overall connectivity and available bandwidth, the majority of participants felt that more bandwidth is needed in remote communities, even though costs remain an issue.
In lieu of robust connectivity in networks, some IT departments in the Territories, for instance, have opted, by necessity, to run more efcient (less bandwidth-intensive/reliant) software and/ or applications. However, this results in sunk costs that won’t be recovered if and when moving to better-adapted, more functional and more time-efcient applications. The greater costs associated with improving connectivity and reliability is often what motivates the move to cheaper lesscapable software, with the trade-of being funds spent on software that proves capable for the current level of connectivity, but is not optimized for future levels of connectivity.
Other examples of applications and services cited as in dire need of improved connectivity include:
the Justice Enterprise Information Network (JEIN) and Wildland Fire management in the Yukon, 9-1-1 emergency call centers, and all educational and justice institutions across all three Territories.
Quality of Service (‘QoS’) The consensus was that speeds should be at least three times the current level. Latency, breaking voice, bad video quality – all key QoS performance indicators - were also cited as key issues.
Despite that, many in the three Territories felt that dropped calls and cross talk over cellular networks have improved over the past six months of 2013.
While some participants appeared to have fewer issues fnding sources of funding for increased levels of connectivity, most indicated budgets were a signifcant constraint in accessing the desired level of connectivity. In particular, some managers in health, public safety and justice departments/agencies commented that as a direct result of connectivity constraints, their ability to access stable video links was compromised and their distance learning capabilities were littleto-none thus compromising the efectiveness of service delivery (sessions interrupted, delays in circulating information and sometimes inability to share information in a timely manner, etc.).
Equally important, due to the lack of connectivity the departments/agencies incurred additional costs for physical transport (usually by air) of data, video and person – the latter consisting of patients, individuals awaiting trial, and prisoners. Furthermore, when frst responders and health care workers don’t have connectivity they require to operate at an optimal level, the health, safety & security of citizens is compromised as a result.
2. Service Provider Improvement Since 2010 There was general consensus in NWT and Yukon that network performance and reliability at the local level has improved overall over the past 3 years. However many in Nunavut reiterated that service levels have plateaued and demand for these services are pent up; however, service providers have not upgraded the network and instead, have maintained the status quo. The gap between need versus availability will continue to widen if issues with network capacity and reliability are not addressed.
3. Lack of Redundancy - Impacts on First Responders Ability to Deliver Essential Services Redundancy - the presence of alternative connectivity platforms for critical front line public safety and security, health and other priority applications in the eventuality that the primary platform fails – was recognized as a critical need for communities and public services in the north. Current redundancy options were all cited as one of the greatest current weaknesses in terms of its impact on applications and services in the Territories. The October 6th 2011 failure of the Anik F2 satellite was mentioned by many stakeholders in Nunavut as having critical impacts on air travel and communications for health, public safety, etc. Most current eforts are being geared towards improving redundancy in afected communities, but this continues to be very costly.
As noted above, limited connectivity or poor QoS limits the ability of frst responders and health care workers to operate at an optimal level and compromises the health, safety & security of citizens. The impact of total failure of the primary connectivity platform is far more drastic on the ability to deliver frst responder and health services and compromises basic rights of citizens to safety and security.
4. Budgetary Resources and Procurement models for Improved Connectivity There was consensus that currently, there is a dearth of fscal resources across all three Territories available to spend on improving connectivity. Much of the discussion in NWT attempted to unearth cost-savings methods by collaborating with incumbents and establishing new sharing and leasing agreements, However, this was seen as an option that would maintain the status quo (e.g., in terms of level of service. Additional cost savings might also be realized by hiring new administration staf to help apportion bandwidth; nevertheless the discussion reiterated the fact that there was no money in budgets to do so.). While these initiatives are important for critical services such as telehealth, education, justice, they would not provide a community-wide solution to increased connectivity needs.
Overall, the consensus was that while current levels of funding are somewhat sufcient for present level of connectivity, more funding is needed to meet future bandwidth needs across all three Territories.
Respondents in Nunavut agreed that fears that a drop in service levels will occur at the close of the Broadband Canada program in 2016 are moot. At the close of the program, connectivity levels are likely to remain stable, though the costs of ensuring sustainable service quality will likely increase to the end-user. Most respondents felt that current eforts at establishing alternate sources of funding will likely be temporary stopgaps, serving to only fll in the gaps. The belief is that current service levels will stagnate and without new sources of funding, upgrades will take much longer than in the past.
5. Future Needs In terms of future connectivity needs, the consensus was aligned with the generally accepted
benefts of modern broadband speeds that the majority of Canadians are accustomed to:
improved speeds, productivity and enhanced security. For many, the main concern is having the ability to move large amounts of information through a network securely, reliably and quickly. Currently in Nunavut, most large and sensitive documents have to be sent through airmail, which is particularly expensive – and in the case of sensitive material – sometimes poses a security issue. In Yukon, justice courts are backlogged and video conferencing is seen as one of the only ways to alleviate the issue, but is currently unreliable for that purpose. Only with funding programs and other funding resources attached to real improvements in connectivity will social services - as well as the members of the community that use and rely on them - be able to realize their full potential.
6. Benefts of Better Connectivity In all three Territories, the discussions on the potential benefts of better connectivity centered around the possibility for more innovation. Most government departments agreed that better connectivity would equate to better service for clients and communities and that these improvements would be signifcant. The Territories would see innovations in productivity, safety, fraud prevention and security and reduced times.
7. Benefts of Better Connectivity Specifc to Human Resources Improvements in connectivity would vastly improve personnel resources and training.
Currently, there are not enough highly qualifed personnel to train new hires in the north, often necessitating a trip to the south in order to get the requisite training. Sometimes, these new hires stay in the south after being exposed to the opportunities available there. Furthermore, it is often the case that, with little money to attract highly qualifed talent from the south to live and work in the north, contractors are brought up and paid double the salary rate. This is but one example of a how spillover cost savings in salary expenditures may be realized through improved connectivity. Other examples of spillover benefts of improved connectivity in the HR
Enabling access to training resources without travel costs;
Improving overall skill levels in the north; and, The ability to retain talent in the north.
5. RECOMMENDED SERVICE STANDARDSThis section provides recommended broadband service standards, with a focus on the backbone network.
THIS SECTION PROVIDES RECOMMENDED MINIMUM BROADBAND SPEED REQUIREMENTS BASED
ON USERS NEED FOR VARIOUS WORK AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES.Broadband service standards are determined in relationship to the applications that have been identifed as being necessary to the functioning of the communities in the three Territories.
Diferent applications may require standards specifc to the application in order to provide an acceptable level of utility and user experience for a particular application. As an example, waiting to receive a digital CAT scan image that takes 15 minutes to download during a medical consultation is not a productive use of a medical practitioner’s time. Likewise, a video stream with missing and frozen frames is an undesirable user experience.
The service standards for the backbone network are derived from the service standard set for the applications carried over the backhaul network. Broadband standards that characterize the
quality and utility of applications are:
Service quality; and, Service availability.
The above broadband standards are discussed in the sections below.
5.1 Minimum Broadband Speed The recommended minimum broadband speed (bandwidth) standards were developed for the main categories of user groups. These user group categories have user requirements for applications requiring broadband connectivity in their day-to-day work and social activities that are characteristic of that category. The user group categories are similar in character across the three regions; however, the relative size of the groups and the number and data / usage intensity of the typical applications may difer.
The typical bandwidth requirements for the various applications that are characteristic of the user group categories are listed in Figure and take into account the backbone sizing model.
The development of these speed standards is further explored in Appendix 2 as well.
Figure : Applications versus Service speed
From the service speed per category identifed in Figure, the estimated trafc was calculated based on the population characteristics of communities in each Territory. Each category is assigned to a percentage of the population as in the ACIA Report.
The service standards mentioned above are used to calculate the forecast backbone trafc for each community. For this purpose, we attributed a percentage of the population for each sector
of activity in each community, as follows:
Education: the percentage of students per community;
Social services: the percentage of government employees per community; and Remainder: the remaining population is divided in three categories;
Health: 2% of the remaining population excluding the social services and the education sector;
Justice/Public Safety: 2% of the remaining population excluding the social services and the education sector; and, Recreational (residential and others): 96% of the remaining population excluding the social services sector and the education sector.
Each of these 5 categories is assigned a service profle (speed requirement). Each end user for these categories consequently generates trafc according to their specifed profle. For example, a person in the ‘Administration’ profle generates (or requires) 2 Mbps of trafc, a person in the ‘Health’ profle generates 16 Mbps of trafc.
As an example, Beaver Creek, Yukon, has a total population of 104:
61% (63 end users) would use a 9 Mbps profle;
1% (10 end users) would use a 16 Mbps profle;
1% (10 end users) would use a 5 Mbps profle;
30% (31 end users) would use a 3 Mbps profle; and, 7% (8 end users) would use an 11 Mbps profle.
When the trafc estimation assumptions (Section 1.2, Chapter 2) are applied to this community, the total trafc generated by this community is therefore between a minimum of 27 Mbps and a maximum 49 Mbps (peak hours).
5.2 Reliability Reliability as it applies to the backbone network is a measure of the ability of the backbone network to provide constant and consistent service. This is defned by minimum standards, usually set out in service level agreements, as well as length of time before the network degrades or fails, and to the point where it can no longer operate to the level of established minimum standards. This is often referred to as the Mean Time Between Failures. Failures can be due to technical, natural and human causes. Failure of a piece of technology, degradation of a microwave or satellite path, or a backhoe damaging a fbre-optic cable can all cause a failure of the backbone.