The internet – Essential service or equal right?

In the last couple of months there has been much news about the Canadian Radio -Television Communications Commission (CRTC) review on whether broad band internet service should be considered an essential service. The review is based on questions about what telecom services consumers rely on the most, if there should be a basic cost applied regardless of one’s location and more importantly should there be a minimum standard of internet service with a focus on rural areas.

As I discussed in the past the ability to engage in social media is strongly based on the internet access an individual has.

Lower income individuals may not have internet access at home and therefore rely on the ability to access it at a nearby library or other public venue. When we question the access of the internet in remote areas, which we have a lot of in Canada, is it fair to hike the cost of broadband access due to the area you live in? Also, in light of growing reliance on the internet and social media outlets by organizations, private and public, to broadcast new information, new product and services and as a way of hiring staff, accessibility becomes an important question. Should equal rights to the internet be administered into law as equal rights to education, to accessibility due to one’s disability or to gender equality?

I don’t agree with the idea that broad band should be considered an essential service. When I think of essential services I think of “do or die” type of services. I would hate to think that we are comparing the internet and information and or opportunities it brings to an individual, to the paramedic we call upon to save a life, or a police officer that intervene in a dispute, or the vast number of medical services used on a daily basis to save lives. The internet, not quite that essential. That said, access to the internet should be more readily available and affordable. I think we should review the question of equal rights to the service and opportunities internet access provides as a way of improving the economy and supporting communities that may otherwise be very separated from businesses and organization that support the community and the families in that community’s needs.


2 thoughts on “The internet – Essential service or equal right?

  1. I think so many people today think that internet, TV, cellphone use and driving for that matter, are an essential service. It seems that we have almost lost touch with what is essential to living.

    When you go anywhere you would think that a smartphone is an essential service considering that everyone is usually glued to their phone, not speaking to each other at the dinner table or walking into a wall because they weren’t paying attention.

    I agree that access to the internet provides a lot of opportunities to an individual and as a society we should be looking at how we can make internet more accessible to everyone. A lot of places are now allowing free WiFi, but that is no help if you don’t have a device to connect to the WiFi.

    We should be exploring ways to bring down the cost of broadband, because of all our bills that always seems to be the most expensive. It seems silly that I pay so much to go on Facebook, or watch YouTube videos, then I do to heat my house or feed my family. Something certainly needs to be done.

  2. Interesting topic and I heard the news report as well. The internet is definitely not an essential service, however it should be affordable to everyone. Schools allow elementary school children computer lab times, there is free computer access at libraries, so there are ways in which people can access the internet. I definitely agree they should be doing more to lower the costs of these services for everyone, regardless of their income.

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