Atlantic Time Zone – An Advantage?

While I am not sure how much it is promoted, the Atlantic Time Zone provides a subtle advantage over other jurisdictions – particularly in an age of VoIP where the cost of telecommunications is not as distance sensitive.  From New Brunswick, a company can provide customer support in both the UK/Europe and the west coast of the United States in  a reasonable working day.    If a company keeps its customer contact centre open from 5 AM to 10 PM in New Brunswick, it covers the vast majority of the working day across North America and in much of Europe and the UK.    This is a subtle but interesting benefit from our location between the population centres of Europe and the United States.

There may be another interesting time zone-specific advantage.  There is growing interest in the idea of Internet searches being routed to the data centre that is paying the least for electricity.   At peak times during the day, the typical data centre will pay a lot more for electricity in Europe and North America.  The concept is to route Internet requests automatically to the data centre in the cheapest time zone and that would require a large firm like Google or Yahoo or Microsoft or Amazon to have their data centres dispersed in various time zones.    New Brunswick could be part of this mix.  When Europe is at peak electricity usage, New Brunswick is at its low end use.   There is a similar effect with the West Coast of the US.  You can see by the chart in the article that the cost of electricity in the U.S. can swing from 22 bucks to 80 bucks per MW depending on the time of day.

There is a guy over at ACOA thinking about this stuff a lot and he flips me articles once in a while.  It may be a little esoteric but every little niche needs to be explored.  If a few of the big data centre companies take up this time zone approach, they would be wise to have data centres in the Atlantic time zone.

There may be other ways where being centrally located from a time zone perspective has other advantages.

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4 Responses to Atlantic Time Zone – An Advantage?

  1. Frederic S. Gionet says:

    I would love the transport and logistic sector perspective on this one. I have always been an advocate to adopt the Eastern Time Zone as a way to reduce potential (perceived or real) barriers between us and our major markets (East USA, Ontario, Quebec).

    As you mentioned, there are some niche opportunities to be pursued based on our 1-hour gap, but as a whole, I believe aligning ourselves with the rest of the eastern North American business environment would be a better move.

    The real impact is debatable, and should be studied, but even if potential gains in trade, productivity, and GDP points would be minuscule, the shift in collective entrepreneurial thought that we are part of large trading region instead of being isolated would make it worthwhile.

  2. Tim says:

    I like it. We need more thinking like this. It is through identifying unique regional attributes and translating them into some tangible benefits – that we can find sources of natural advantage that are difficult for others to duplicate -> natural advantage = durable advantage.

  3. Fred, good counterpoint. Not 100% sure I agree, though.

  4. Mark Wallace says:

    The advantages the article listed are not in labor intensive industries. Having almost completely unmanned routing centers just to get the electric will do nothing to create jobs in Atlantic Canada.

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