For many Canadians, access to the internet has become more of a necessity than a luxury. With the move to virtual learning and work, along with stay-at-home orders preventing in-person contact, the need for high-quality internet access for all Canadians is crucial.
Unfortunately, Canadians who live in more rural areas are disproportionately left with little to no access to this essential service, compared to their urban counterparts.
According to Google, the digital divide is defined as “the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not”.
The Canadian Government has assessed that the amount of rural Canadians with access to broadband is 45.6%, with Canada as a whole at 87.4% overall. That’s a huge difference, and one that puts the rural members of our communities at a huge disadvantage.
A good portion of YQG (Windsor-Essex County) and Chatham-Kent communities are considered rural. That means locally, our communities are more likely to have less access to fast and reliable internet, compared to areas like Toronto and London.
Besides Southwestern Ontario, our northern mostly rural communities experience this divide as well. There are huge swathes of Northern Ontario that are only rural communities, leaving them far more likely to have little to no access to reliable connections.
The Digital Divide was an issue before COVID-19, but one that many found easier to sweep under the rug. A lack of reliable internet at home was less likely to affect the work and education of many Canadians.
Today, with Zoom calls and virtual work, the divide is glaringly obvious and has had serious negative effects on Canadians daily lives.
Online learning has been declared as not viable for many rural communities, a lack of broadband services being cited as a reason many cannot access it. For those who are working virtually, the problem is much the same.
With the problem now too big to fit under the rug, the essentiality of internet access has more attention than ever before...
Since our founding, it’s been our mission to make sure that those in our rural communities have access to the fast and reliable internet. In the past, we’ve outlined solutions for high-speed internet in rural areas, all of which are still viable
There has also been an effort over the years to raise attention to the divide, with news publications such as the Toronto Sun and The Global Mail covering the issue.
The divide is slowly closing, although many feel it’s not closing fast enough.
The infrastructure towards internet access for rural areas still has not reached its full potential, and the solutions largely given are often mediocre at best. The work it would take to bridge the gap would require an all-hands-on-deck solution.
The solution to this has been debated by many over the years, some suggesting an increase in the affordability of internet access as the solution, while others believing that addressing the gender gap in internet access will be what closes the divide, and more others believing that infrastructure changes will close the gap.
However, there is a clear solution. The Broadband Fund, through the Government of Canada, aims at providing up to $750 million over 5 years to make sure that areas in Canada that don’t currently have access to broadband internet get the infrastructure they need.
With the goal of 50 download and 10 upload speeds for every Canadian, it will level the playing field for those who live in rural and under-served areas.
Access for all is something that we at WaveDirect strongly believe in, and providing access to our rural communities will always be a part of our business.
For the local members of our rural community who are struggling with internet access, you can check out our rural packages under our residential offerings, or call our Client Experience team at (519) 737-9283.