A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Is Internet an Essential Service?

I have previously ranted here about the difficulty faced by many rural residents to get any affordable internet connection to their home let alone a 'high speed' one. For those who do not have a 'line of sight' to an internet suppliers transmitter tower they are left with just two options (dial up internet now being all but useless except for email use due to 'heavy' content of almost every site) those being satellite connection or Cell phone connection, both being expensive and with low volume thresholds. In some cases the physical location negates even these options.
For those who take their connections for granted or those who think an internet connection is an unessential frill I offer this clip from a letter to The Owen Sound Hub from one Shane Patey,

The last few years have seen a major shift toward content held exclusively online by outlets that would have previously delivered the same content through both print media and television. The area is enjoying a major increase in new year round residents. Living here should not mean that we can not access the same information as our city based counterparts just a few kilometres away.
This move to online content and other resources for engaging citizens (learning portals, health supports, and more) is not happening alongside similarly robust development in physically situated and accessible by the public resources, and far and wide is replacing many that have previously been physically accessible. Also, recognizing the challenges of engaging many who feel marginalized and vulnerable related to various physical and mental health experiences, publically funded entities like NGOs and community health outlets are being funded specifically to deliver content and education online by both federal and provincial funding bodies including but not limited to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Longterm Care, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Funding arrangements are continuously evaluated for their reach and impact and the last year and a half has seen the addition of evaluation criteria specifically pertaining to an organization's capacity to engage stakeholders via traditional online outlets, and social media.
Shane is of course correct, government is increasingly 'centralizing' services and seems to think that making these services available online make them available to those distant from those urban centers where face to face service is available. Unfortunately many rural residents do not have, and often cannot get, reliable affordable internet connections and given the difficulty of servicing some areas with either cabled service or wireless service this will not change much in the foreseeable future despite all the hype about bringing “high speed internet' to Grey County. Some of those in community's already served by such connections may well get improved service but those away from major arteries will continue to struggle to get any reliable (affordable & unlimited) connection.

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