The Internet needs to be more than a privilege

Yesterday, if you had a kid in school in the Halton, Niagara and southern Ontario region you were faced with wide spread disruptions to your online experience.

There has been a number of times personally during this pandemic that it’s become painful that internet access in this country is very much an embarassment. Living in the 905 region of Ontario, it is thought that we would have fast and effective broadband internet. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that that is painfully not true.

On my podcast The 905er, we use a web based program to record our interviews with our guests. The number of times we’ve had difficulties in establishing a reliable connection to people in the GTHA is astounding. With the increased number of people working from home, it’s feasible that our internet broadband services are overwhelmed.

This problem isn’t necessarily the fault of any current government or business. It has been the accumulated consequences of years of treating internet like a luxury. When internet first became to Canadian households in the 1990s, it was seen as a fun thing to have in your house. I don’t think that attitude has really changed. Broadband access to internet is thought of as something akin to a luxury expense of the household.

As the pandemic has raged on, the need for reliable internet access for us to remain connected has become apparent. The gaps that currently exist in this country in ensuring speedy access to the internet is appalling. COVID-19 has forced much of the economy to go online. Depending on people to communicate and place orders online for businesses to remain functioning. We have become irrevocably dependent on the internet in all aspects of our lives. In order to keep our economy and society functioning and efficient the time has come to shift our thinking of the internet from a luxury to a utility.

Treating the internet akin to a water or electrical grid is something policy makers and business leaders might want to consider as we start to look at a post COVID-19 world. We’d still have to pay for it, but the gaps in service would be unacceptable. We expect proper electrical grids, sewers and roadways to all corners of this country. We should include internet broadband access in that list from now on.

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