What would we do if we didn’t have the internet? I know myself, I would likely not be able to function. Internet access is not available for everyone. Especially in Canada. In a recent decision the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission) ruled that internet access should be considered an essential service. But what does that mean? In Canada, the CRTC regulates all things related to TV, radio, internet, and phone services. And when I say regulate, I mean, they set the rules. So when the CRTC says that internet is now an essential service, what does that mean for consumers? For people living in cities, it doesn’t mean much. But for those rural folks, this is a big deal. Internet Service Providers will now start working on ways to deliver internet services to less populated areas, and boosting speeds for everyone else.
People in rural areas still rely on landline internet access, but the CRTC ruling will help with that. Which means, basic internet access just got a boost. Well… kind of. The infrastructure in many rural areas doesn’t exist to support high speed internet. In order to make this a reality, a lot of work will need to take place. Including, getting buy-in from many stakeholders to be able to use the land and run the lines. This is still great news!
This decision means access to internet for those in the rural areas, but what about the urban areas? Faster speeds. Full stop. While this is great news for all of you heavy internet users out there, this also has some other amazing implications. More cities in Ontario are starting to offer free wifi in downtown areas. My city, for example offers free outdoor wifi for a specific area of the downtown. Hopefully drawing people to the core, where they will spend more money. It’s a win-win. This may even draw new businesses to open up shop in an area they may not have considered otherwise.
A near-by town (can you say the hometown of Justin Bieber?) has taken this to the next level – participating in a pilot project to test driver-less cars on the road. Amazing right? Without the infrastructure, this wouldn’t be a possibility. What’s even more amazing is the support from the town itself to put time, money and resources into building this type of system.
In a city just outside of Toronto, you can access free wifi at select transit stops. And there is one city in eastern Canada that now offers free wifi on all its buses. Again – without the infrastructure, this wouldn’t be a possibility. In a nation as progressive as Canada, the CRTC estimates that approximately 18% of households don’t have access to download speeds of 50 Mbps. So why has it taken so long for a service like this to be deemed “essential”? The short answer is money and infrastructure. The longer answer is likely political. All of that aside, this is a time to embrace the changes. Time to usher in a new way of thinking and be as progressive of a nation that the rest of the world thinks we are.