WORK PLAN FOR DEVELOPING A NATIONAL VISION STATEMENT BACKGROUND Bill C.38, the Telecommunications Act, passed in 1993, affirms that "telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada's identify and sovereignty" and identifies seven objectives, including: (a) to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions; and (b) to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada. Canada has achieved near universal access in both telephony and cable TV. In both areas Canada has one of the highest penetration ratios in the world. The number of phone lines in Canada (99%) compares dramatically with developing countries like the Philippines (4%) and very favourably with other industrialized countries such as the United States (93%). Similarly, Canada has the second highest cable TV penetration of any country in the world, surpassed only by Belgium which, unlike Canada, has the advantage of a small geographic area and very high population density. In both cases, grassroots support by community-based organizations was a critical ingredient in making these telecommunications services universally accessible and affordable. For example, after Bell Canada had judged that it was uneconomical to provide telephone services in western Canada, a grassroots movement of locally-based co-operatives played a leading role in making telephone available to all. Similarly, the Canadian cable TV industry still uses its original acronym "CATV" (Community Antenna Television), even if for many Canadians, the community ownership has now been superseded. As high-speed data communications play an increasing role in the lives of all Canadians, the Canadian Community Networking ("Free-Net") movement is following the pattern seen in earlier forms of telecommunications technology. Although the "Free-Net" concept originated in the U.S. in 1986, the growth of Community Networks ("Free-Nets") in Canada has been dramatic, with over fifty Community Networking Associations and thirteen operational Community Networks having been established since the world's first operational Free-Net outside the U.S. was opened in Canada in 1992. Canadian Community Networks ("Free-Nets") are also rapidly evolving into a uniquely Canadian service. For example, the Chebucto Free-Net in Halifax has developed a powerful software suite based on easy-to-use Graphical User Interfaces which far surpasses the text-only software developed in the U.S., while the Victoria Free-Net partnered with the Commonwealth Games Society, BC TEL, IBM, and the B.C. Ministry of Tourism in the use of Canadian ATM ("Asynchronous Transfer Mode") technology to deliver moving images, sound, and up-to-the-minute Games' results around the world. In order to ensure that this latest form of telecommunications technology is accessible and affordable to Canadians in both urban and rural areas and performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada's identity and sovereignty, Telecommunities Canada, the umbrella body for Canadian Community Networks, plans to prepare a strategy or National Vision Statement for the development of Community Networking in all regions of Canada. The following Work Plan describes how Telecommunities Canada will prepare this National Vision Statement. APPROACH The Board of Telecommunities Canada, at their inaugural meeting in Vancouver in November, 1994, unanimously agreed that full membership In Telecommunities Canada should be available to all Canadian Community Networking organizations which: * operate on a not-for-profit basis; * have their legal membership open to every citizen of their community; * provide equitable access to all citizens in their community; * encourage exchange, publication and access to the broadest possible range of information of interest to the community; and * endeavour to create connections with other computer-based networks and to allow the free and interactive flow of information between different communities. 51 associations and 13 operating Community Networks have already been identified and other organizations will be added as more and more grassroots organizations are formed. Links have also been established with provincial organizations such as the B.C. FreeNet Association, the Blue-Sky Free-Net in Manitoba, and the Ontario Free-Net Association to agree on national/provincial responsibilities and avoid duplication. The concept of a "community" is deliberately broad, so that a province-wide organization which meets the above criteria, such as the Blue-Sky Free-Net, will be encouraged to become a full members of Telecommunities Canada. Telecommunities Canada is, therefore, unequivocally the "national voice" for Community Networks in Canada. However, the Community Networking movement expects and indeed demands that the essential element for Community Network development in Canada is grassroots community control. Therefore, while Telecommunities Canada has the role of articulating a long-term strategy for Community Network development in Canada, it is the Community Networks themselves that will actually implement that strategy. Telecommunities Canada the following approach in developing a National Vision Statement: 1. Using the "Profile of Community Networks in Canada" as a starting point a comprehensive and up-to-date list of all operating and embryonic Community Networks in Canada will be maintained. 2. Based on this list, an on-going dialog will be initiated between the Board of Telecommunities Canada and its constituents. 3. Thanks to the generosity of the Pacific Region Association for Telematics, the B.C. FreeNet Association, and Digital Equipment of Canada, a Telecommunities Canada "domain" will be established (tc.ca) which will point to all Community Networks in Canada using such tools as WWW and the Chebucto Software Suite and allow direct communication with the Board (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the entire membership (email@example.com) of Telecommunities Canada. 4. The members of the Board of Telecommunities Canada will donate their services at no cost in order to hold face-to-face sessions on at least three occasions in different parts of the country. 5. Where practical, these meeting will coincide with sessions of the Information Highway Advisory Council and the CRTC Hearings on Convergence and, even when such a scheduling of meetings is not practical, the Board of Telecommunities Canada will provide both the Council and the Commission with considered input which derives from its undisputed sapiential authority. 6. An International Conference and General Meeting of Telecommunities Canada will be held on Vancouver Island in mid to late 1995 which will endorse the National Vision Statement and elect a new Board of Directors. 7. The new Board of Telecommunities Canada will meet following the Conference and General Meeting to present the National Vision Statement to Ministers responsible for both Industry Canada and Heritage Canada and will then hold a Press Conference with one or both Ministers which will be netcast over the entire Internet. TIMELINES 1. The founding meeting of the Board of Telecommunities Canada was held in Vancouver B.C. on November 18 through 20, 1994, with funding assistance from Industry Canada. 2. The initial list of all Community Networks in Canada has been prepared and a dialogue has already been initiated to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this list. 3. The Telecommunities Canada domain will be operational early in 1995 and by this time a dialogue proper concern the proposed "National Vision Statement" will have been initiated. 4. A meeting of the Board of Telecommunities Canada will be held coincident with the Information Highway Advisory Council meeting in order to begin to apprise the Council of the development of a "National Vision Statement" and allow the Board to share its view with the Council Members. 5. A meeting of the Board of Telecommunities Canada will be held coincident with the Convergence Hearings of CRTC in order to present the Commission with a draft "National Vision Statement" and allow the Board to share its views with the Commissioners. 6. A meeting of the Board of Telecommunities Canada will be held coincident with the International Conference and General Meeting of Telecommunities Canada on Vancouver Island in the third quarter of 1995 to formalize the "National Vision Statement" which will then be endorsed by the General Membership or revised in accordance with the views of the General Membership. 7. A meeting of the Board of Telecommunities Canada will be held in Ottawa in the fourth quarter of 1995 to present the "National Vision Statement" to Cabinet and hold a joint press conference with the Minister(s) responsible.