Upcoming Events:

Digital Futures: Alberta 2018

Over the last ten years the community broadband environment in Alberta has seen great disruption and innovation. Alberta has established itself as a provincial leader with diverse, bottom up driven solutions to local and regional connectivity problem. One contributing factor has been Digital Future symposia, and the with the arrival of spring it is time for another Digital Futures Symposium to discuss progress to date and see what disruptions and innovations lie ahead in the future of community broadband in Alberta.

Digital Futures Spring 2018 will be hosted in idyllic Pincher Creek. The day and half symposium will be hosted at the Heritage Inn, and include opportunities for trips to see both the Waterton Community Broadband Network and the TransAlta Operations Centre. Join us on April 25-27, 2018 in Pincher Creek to discuss the future of community broadband in Alberta.

Digital Futures Alberta 2018 – Program

Sponsorship Opportunities – Digital Futures Alberta 2018

Hotel Information

Heritage Inn, 919 Waterton Ave, Pincher Creek, Alberta T0K 1W0

Call the hotel (403) 627-5000 and reserve the rate of $92 + tax before March 25

Group confirmation number is: 129726. Booking is under Van Horne Institute.


For more information, please call Bryndis Whitson at 587-430-0292 or email at [email protected]

Previous Events:

Digital Futures: Alberta 2017

Digital Futures: Alberta 2017 was the seventh Digital Futures symposium and the first to be held in Cochrane, Alberta.

2017 promises to be a busy year in broadband across Alberta. Provincially work continues on a diverse range of local and regional broadband projects, the new SuperNet 2.0 framework continues to take shape, and a new broadband toolkit for Albertans has been developed. At the same time Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) will roll out its new $500 million “Connect to Innovate” program, while the CRTC has recently declared broadband a basic telecommunication service and will develop a new fund worth $750 million over five years.

How best to stay abreast of these developments – join the conversation at Van Horne Institute’s Digital Futures 2017 symposium this March in Cochrane, Alberta. Building on the momentum from both previous Digital Futures events and the wide range of broadband projects across the province, Digital Futures offers a forum that brings together community leaders, government officials, industry, academics and broadband champions to discuss important issues related to community, regional, rural and remote broadband.

This two day event, March 16 and 17, will cover all the bases and is an ideal venue for both those with experience in the broadband community of practice, and those new to the topic hoping to gain more knowledge and further discussions in their own community. The event will include presentations from both provincial and federal officials, panels providing municipal, regional and industry perspectives and sessions designed for those just orienting themselves to the topic or those interested in discussing emerging issues. The symposium will be held in the beautiful town of Cochrane at the Cochrane RancheHouse. We look forward to seeing you in mid-March.

Digital Futures Alberta 2017 Program

Digital Futures: Alberta North

Digital Futures: Alberta North is the sixth Digital Futures symposium and the first to be held in northern Alberta.

Building on the momentum from the previous five symposium Digital Futures: Alberta North will showcase success stories from across the province, with a focus on the northern regions, and the multitude of various solutions that have developed to enhance rural and remote broadband in the province.

Digital Futures Alberta North Program

Hotel information: Canalta Hotel, 9905 83 Avenue, Lac la Biche, AB; 1-780-623-4490; http://canaltahotels.com/our-properties/laclabiche There is a Room Block for $125 a night.

Hosted with the partnership of the Alberta HUB, the University of Alberta – School of Library and Information Studies, the University of Alberta – Master of Arts in Communications and Technology (MACT) Program, Portage College and MCSNet.

Digital Futures 2016

The Van Horne Institute is pleased to host its next Digital Futures symposium on March 9 & 10, 2016 in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

This symposium focused on the CRTC’s Basic Telecommunications Services Public Hearing and Rural broadband issues in Alberta.

About the Symposium
The Van Horne Institute is pleased to announce that Digital Futures symposium was held March 9 and 10, 2016 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Launched in the fall of 2013, Digital Future meetings and symposia have become must-attend events in Canada for rural municipal leaders and decision makers responsible for broadband enablement in their communities. This event was held in conjunction with the Local to Global Forum that is hosted by the Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor.

Digital Futures Program

Dr. Michael McNally and Dr. Rob McMahon from the University of Alberta provided broadband basics and backgrounders. As well as, policy updates on the CRTC’s Basic Service Objective, wireless policy, and other topics.
Broadband Basics & Policy Updates

This session was led by Bob Dyrda from Alberta SouthWest, which provided an overview of Five Community Broadband Strategic Business Models concepts and provided details for attendees
Five Broadband Business Models – Which is Best for Your Community?

Strategy Session: Broadband for Economic and Community Development

This session was led by David Basto and Monique Nesset from the City of Calgary.
The 21st Century City is a highly connected City that will rely on a backbone of well planned and sustainable communications infrastructure, in advance of any technology. This connectivity is the foundation to Intelligent Traffic Systems, Machine to Machine Communication, Remote Sensing and everything that makes up a “Smart City”. Yet there are many issues that create barriers to the deployment of this infrastructure.
For Municipalities, building the business case for establishing this foundational infrastructure is challenging and complex. This presentation will reveal how The City of Calgary presented its case for sustainable communications infrastructure resulting in unanimous Council approval and why it’s NOT about Broadband.

Next steps and closing remarks


Digital Futures Symposium for Rural Broadband Enablement

October 15 & 16, 2015

The Van Horne Institute was pleased to host its next Digital Futures symposium on October 15 and 16, 2015 in Olds, Alberta. Launched in the fall of 2013, Digital Future meetings and symposia have become must-attend events in Canada for rural municipal leaders and decision makers responsible for broadband enablement in their communities.

Representatives of the Alberta government – including SuperNet, Agriculture, and Innovation and Advanced Education – were attendees. Dr. Linda Vennard, Commissioner, Alberta and Northwest Territories Region, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was a guest speaker and a timely respondent to recent Commission rulings and undertakings regarding broadband in Canada.

Topics to be covered

  • Get communities up to speed – in learning about broadband opportunities and experiences, with special presentations and a guided tour of O-NET in Olds.
  • Assessing broadband development/deployment on a regional basis – the emerging importance of REDAs in guiding and enabling broadband development.
  • The evolving role of the provincial government – cross-ministry GOA supports in the areas of financial, technical and informational/leadership capacities; where broadband fits in emerging areas of strategic importance, including economic diversification, environmental sustainability, and innovation/ICT strategy
  • Policy issues – addressing the urban-rural divide, including strategies for overcoming limitations to regions and distant rural communities; recent CRTC hearings/rulings and their impact on and import for rural communities specifically.
  • Communication strategies – lessons from Olds and the United States on creating momentum and the conditions for coordinated and sustainable change at all levels of community engagement.

Sponsored by Olds Institute, O-Net, the Calgary Regional Partnership, DataHive, and LightCore Group


Thursday, October 15

Welcome, opening remarks and Introductions

Municipal/REDA/GOA Roundtable I

The game for rural broadband is changing quickly, and in Alberta, Regional Economic Development Alliances are beginning to tackle the broadband issue head on. What do REDA’s need from the provincial government to help them get traction in thinking through the complexities of broadband development? What role do individual municipalities play within the REDA footprint? What does the GOA need from REDAs and municipalities to help them help communities?

Municipal/REDA/GOA Roundtable II

Lunch Keynote Speaker – Dr. Linda Vennard, Commissioner, Alberta and Northwest Territories Region, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

CTRC Video

The Case of Olds and O-NET (Joe Gustafson and the O-NET team)

Members of the O-NET team present different principles for network ownership and design, the need for triple-play, and a quick overview of how you can start delivering services to your customers. An overview of the history and evolution of the O-NET project.

Communications workshop: lessons from Olds and the US on community engagement, and what municipalities need to do to create conditions for coordinated and sustainable change. (Mark Wolfe)

Hospitality and Demo Night: Fine Arts and Multimedia Centre

Digital Futures registrants were invited to the Fine Arts and Multimedia Centre at Olds College on October 15th for a hospitality evening and opportunity to learn a little more about O-NET and have a gigabit experience. Registrants will have the opportunity to meet some of the O-NET and Olds Institute team over a glass of wine, cold beer or non-alcoholic refreshment while enjoying hearty hot and cold appetizers. The hospitality evening will commence at 6:30 pm.

Friday, October 16

Overview of recent and pending CRTC decisions on communities considering broadband developments in their regions

CRTC intervention workshop: how municipalities/REDAs can generate an online portal to share information and resources

Lunch – The Potential for Regional Broadband: Paul Nelson

Panel discussion – Issues and Next steps for Rural Broadband Enablement Moderator – Mark Wolfe (University of Calgary)

  • John Andersen, Senior Program Officer, Government of Alberta
  • Wayne Kelly, Project Coordinator, Rural Policy Learning Commons, Rural Development Institute
  • Dr. Michael McNally, Assistant Professor, University of Alberta
  • Paul Nelson, President, Crystal Downs Inc.
  • Art Price, CEO, AXIA
  • Holly Salou, Director, SuperNet Operations, Government of Alberta
  • Dr. Linda Vennard, Commissioner, Alberta and Northwest Territories Region, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Plenary session: what we heard and next steps and Symposium closing remarks

Digital Futures 2015

March 26 & 27, 2015

Held for the first time in the fall of 2013, this multi-stakeholder engagement on all things rural broadband has become a premiere national event in Canada around broadband policy in the main, with emphasis on advanced rural network development in particular.

Digital Futures 2015 – was held on the University of Alberta campus at Alumni House, (11515 Saskatchewan Dr NW, Edmonton, AB), on March 26 and 27, 2015 – it focused on our increasingly complex regulatory environment in Canada, in addition to providing key updates and perspectives on where new models for community-based development are emerging in the rural domain.

Representatives from industry, academia, regulatory authorities and key rural developments groups such as the Rural Development Institute at Brandon University and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium attended.

Digital Futures 2015 was hosted by the Van Horne Institute in Partnership with Master of Arts in Communications and Technology (MACT), Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta and the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, with the assistance of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study, University of Alberta.


Alberta Digital Futures Symposium 2013

March 26 & 27, 2015


Next-generation centres of creativity and innovation

As Alberta’s province-wide fibre optic network approaches its first official decade of operations in 2015, it remains something of an inconvenient truth that the majority of rural communities in the province have yet to leverage connection to the “SuperNet” in a way that solves the “final mile” problem: viz. the provision of advanced digital services to all or most residences and business in community.  At the same time, some rural communities in the province have decided not to wait on government or traditional telecommunications providers to service their areas with true broadband capacity.  The result is an uneven distribution of broadband capacity at a time when many rural communities desire and need to attract businesses and well-educated workers and families in order to emerge as next-generation centres of technical and socio-economic creativity and innovation.

Purpose of the symposium

This symposium brought together selected representatives from rural communities, industry, government and the research community for two days of intense workshops and panel discussions on rural broadband issues and challenges, with specific focus on ways and means rural communities can advance their broadband capacity in order to fully participate in the digital economy.

Aim of the symposium

To identify approaches, best practices, applications, and processes around technology readiness and culture of use that rural communities in Alberta can use in assessing the business cases and social factors involved in advancing broadband development in their local socio-economic contexts.

Workshops focused on three thematic areas:

Technical issues and applications – what are the common barriers rural communities face in approaching the digital infrastructure question?  What are the options and where is the technology going? What applications have helped drive digital infrastructure investment?  How does a community source expertise in these areas? Are there ways to effect coordination and economies of scale to enable final-mile projects across the province?

Governance – what are the key elements in an effective governance structure and approach aimed at developing and driving uptake of advanced digital services?   How does a rural community recruit and sustain talent and commitment in a technology-related but socially complex project?  What are the key leadership elements and qualities required to effectively guide decision-making around digital infrastructure and the culture of use required to sustain the business model?

Socio-economic considerations – how and when do you effectively engage a community regarding technology planning?  How do you assess a community for technology readiness?  Are there emerging business models of relevance to the Alberta rural context?  What are the financial barriers – and solutions?

Who attended?

View the Symposium attendee list >