AI News

Coffee Briefing Mar. 5 – High speed internet access for 150 NWT households; Canadian small business owners slow in generative AI uptake; Mistral AI open source model now available on IBM’s watsonx; and more

Coffee Briefings are timely deliveries of the latest ITWC headlines, interviews, and podcasts. Today’s Coffee Briefing is delivered by IT World Canada’s editorial team! 

Missed the last Coffee Briefing? We’ve got you covered.

Government of Canada invests over $2 million to connect 150 Northwest Territories households

The federal government has announced an investment of over C$1.9 million to connect 152 Indigenous households in Whatì, a community in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

The investment will go to Northwestel, which will be undertaking the project. Owned by Bell, Northwestel is an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) and long-distance carrier in the territories of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and part of Northern British Columbia.

Another C$480,000 went to SSI Micro, a Yellowknife-based telco that provides cellular access to a repositionable communications shelter, located in hunting and fishing grounds near Fort Providence.

“Connectivity is an essential tool to access education and health care and to grow a business,” said Gudie Hutchings, minister of rural economic development. “It also improves safety and provides peace of mind. Your government is on track to exceed its historic commitment to connect 98 per cent of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026.”

The investments are provided through the Universal Broadband Fund, which seeks to ensure that Canadians in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities have access to reliable internet and mobile connectivity.

GoDaddy launches AI tool to help Canadian small business owners increase productivity

Web hosting company GoDaddy announced that it has launched GoDaddy Airo, an AI-powered solution designed to help small business owners save time and attract new customers, in Canada and the U.S..

The tool will, for instance, recommend catchy domain name options, generate logo designs, create a fully built website, a professional email account, product descriptions, email marketing campaigns, a social media calendar and more.

This announcement comes as GoDaddy released a survey of 500 Canadian small business owners revealing that only one in five of them used generative AI for business-related tasks, despite expectations that AI will reduce costs and hours worked.

The average Canadian small business owner, in fact, estimates that generative AI tools could save them $2,600 and around 260 hours per year, while one in four believes the technology can reduce their workload by 500 hours or more annually.

However, half of the surveyed respondents admit they don’t know how to start using generative AI.

“That’s about to change,” asserted Young Lee, head of GoDaddy Canada.

eCampus Ontario launches AI-enabled tool to address skills gaps

eCampus Ontario, a Toronto-based non profit organization that aims to strengthen Ontario’s post secondary education system through online learning, has launched, a custom GPT, powered by OpenAI to to help learners better understand their skills gaps and find a micro-credential to fill these gaps.

The tool seeks to complement the Ontario Micro-credential Portal, a platform of record launched in 2021 to help learners across Ontario to find short courses to learn the in-demand skills employers need.

Additionally, adds a smart conversational interface that allows visitor interaction and increases their engagement with the platform.

“The new generative AI tool also helps our member Indigenous institutes, colleges and universities realize efficiencies and save money in reaching learners while helping to increase incremental revenue through new program registrations,” said Robert Luke, chief executive officer of eCampusOntario.

Over the next month, eCampusOntario will be testing the new proof of principle interface as part of experimenting with AI tools to empower learners. requires a ChatGPT account to use.

Mistral AI open source model now available on IBM’s watsonx

IBM has announced the availability of Mixtral-8x7B large language model (LLM), developed by Mistral AI, on its watsonx AI and data platform.

“Clients are asking for choice and flexibility to deploy models that best suit their unique use cases and business requirements,” said Kareem Yusuf, Ph.D, senior vice president, product management and growth, IBM Software. “By offering Mixtral-8x7B and other models on watsonx, we’re not only giving them optionality in how they deploy AI — we’re empowering a robust ecosystem of AI builders and business leaders with tools and technologies to drive innovation across diverse industries and domains.”

The Mixtral-8x7B model is widely known for its ability to rapidly process and analyze vast amounts of data to provide context-relevant insights. But IBM says it offers an optimized version of the model, which in internal testing was able to increase throughput (the amount of data that can be processed in a given period of time) by 50 per cent, promising reduced latency. 

This week, IBM also announced the availability of ELYZA-japanese-Llama-2-7b, a Japanese LLM model open-sourced by ELYZA Corporation, on watsonx. More third party models are to come on watsonx in the next months, said IBM.

GSMA and European Space Agency partner to advance new satellite and terrestrial networks technologies

Last week at MWC Barcelona 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) and GSMA Foundry announced a series of initiatives to help the mobile and satellite industries collaborate on developing new, innovative satellite and terrestrial networks technologies.

“ESA is proud to partner with the GSMA on a variety of impactful initiatives in our commitment to advance connectivity solutions, through the integration of satellite and terrestrial networks,” said  Antonio Franchi, ESA’s head of the 5G/6G Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Programme Office. “One of ESA’s aims is to connect everyone, everywhere and at any time, and this powerful collaboration with GSMA is a significant step in advancing the mobile and satellite communications industries.”

The initiatives include:

  1. up to €15 million (around C$22 million) in ESA funding opportunities, to help stimulate innovation and project development.
  2. Expansion of lab network access for Foundry participants who want to collaborate at ESA’s 5G/6G Hub in Harwell, UK and 5G/6G Telecom Lab in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
  3. Launch of a new GSMA advance training course to grow knowledge about, and support collaboration between, terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks.
  4. Launch of the Non-Terrestrial Network (TN-NTN) Community to develop new projects and plot a roadmap for future initiatives and activities.
  5. Ecosystem unification. The GSMA Foundry and ESA will work with and invite the wider industry to unify efforts towards seamless TN and NTN interworking.

More to explore

Is the BlackCat/AlphV ransomware gang self-destructing?

The ongoing saga of the BlackCat/AlphV ransomware gang continues, with a news report that the crew has shut down its servers after a controversial hack of an American healthcare services provider.

Fab wars: Intel, Tata Group, CG Power all launch foundry plans

With competition heating up in the foundry business – India this week approved three new semiconductor plants involving Tata Group and CG Power,, and is looking to achieve dominance in the industry – existing foundries have to up their game.

Canadian police need a search warrant to get your IP address: Supreme Court

How private is your internet address? Very, says the Supreme Court of Canada.

AI usage the highest among Quebec employees: KPMG

In a new report, KPMG has broken down the provincial adoption rate of generative AI across Canada, and found that Quebec led with 26 per cent, ahead of Alberta (23 per cent), British Columbia (22 per cent) and Ontario (20.5 per cent), which nearly tied with Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Atlantic Canada saw the lowest adoption rate.

MWC 2024: A wild Journey to the Future in Hall 6

The future and all that is possible was on full display this week at MWC Barcelona 2024 in Hall Six of Gran Via, the site of an innovation zone that featured hands-on and immersive demos of things ranging from devices that enhance the growing of fruit to what has been described as the “world’s first flying car.”

Love, Collins discuss what it takes to succeed in the channel

A webinar held last week took a deep dive into what it takes to build a successful channel program in Canada.

Channel Bytes March 1, 2024 – Today is the deadline for Top 100 Solution Provider nominations; WLAN market contracting: Dell’Oro; ASCII Group launches AI committee; and more

Staying informed is a constant challenge. There’s so much to do, and so little time. But we have you covered. Grab a coffee and take five while you nibble on these tidbits.

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