Many Canadians view Internet as a necessity

Rural residents paying a hefty price for service

The internet has become a staple of Canadian life.
The Internet has become a staple of Canadian life.

Access to the Internet has become a staple in almost every household across Canada, but for those living in rural areas, the cost of staying connected can come with a hefty price tag.

Andrew Henderson, who works as a mechanic in Toronto, owns a cottage in Muskoka and finds the difference between his two Internet bills hard to swallow.

“Here in Toronto I pay around 50 bucks for unlimited Internet at a good speed,” said Henderson. “At the cottage I’m paying 80 bucks for a three gig download limit and pathetic speed. The price difference is insane, but I cant live without it. It’s how I stay connected with everyone.”

Recently the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) started hearings to debate whether online service should be considered a basic service and whether Internet speeds should be regulated.

While it’s unlikely for a decision to come soon, it does open up the discussion about Internet speeds across the country.

A survey by the CRTC showed that 96 per cent of Canadians have access to downloading speeds faster then five megabits per second. However four per cent of the population, a number which is in the hundreds of thousands, remains stuck with slow service.

According to social media specialist, Sebastian Werner, slower online connections will eventually be unable to keep up with modern forms of social media and online communication.

“If you look at Facebook feeds today they are mostly comprised of pictures and videos, social media is using and the internet are becoming heavily video and picture based,” said Werner.

“Slow Internet speeds wont be able to load your Facebook feed and if you have a small bandwidth usage limit you are almost dooming yourself to overuse charges if you spend more than half an hour using Facebook and Twitter.”

The CRTC is holding a public hearing in Gatineau, Que., throughout a two-week period, ending April 29.

The hearings will be part of a review the CRTC is conducting on its basic telecommunication systems, which does not include high speed Internet services, but does include low-speed services.