If you are reading this article online, then it means that you have access to Internet services. However, this is not the case with many people in Canada. Canada still has a large population, especially the rural and indigenous people, which does not have access to Internet services. This reality became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people had to rely on the Internet for education, work, business and other everyday activities. Almost 1 million Canadians at that time had no access to internet connection, causing a digital divide. This is when the role of internet service provider (ISP) came into picture. ISPs are the companies providing access to the internet to their customers. They provide high-speed internet facilities at an affordable cost which helps close the digital gap.
But before we talk any further about it, let us understand the concept of digital divide.
What is the Digital Divide?
The digital divide is the gap between those with and without access to modern internet connection technology. However, this term was first coined in the 20th century, and simply described the ones who had cell phones and those who were devoid of it. But as the communication sector evolved, the term also started changing its meaning.
Now in most developing economies, the term the digital divide means the ones who have access to the internet and those who are devoid of it. However, in the case of Canada,, the digital divide means the ones who have access to high-speed internet vs those who are devoid of it. There are big effects of this division on many areas of life, such as schooling, jobs, health care, and social interaction. Infrastructure problems, social and economic inequality, and problems with learning how to use technology all play a role in this divide. Addressing the digital divide is essential in ensuring everyone has equal access to chances and reducing differences.
What are the causes of the Digital Divide in Canada?
There is often a digital divide between urban and rural communities because rural areas need easy access to reliable and cheap internet services. However, geography problems, low population density, and a lack of infrastructure are some other issues that contribute to this issue.
Here are some other issues that contribute to the digital divide in Canada:
Cost of the internet:
According to Statistics Canada, the income gap is a determining factor in Canadians’ access to online connectivity. The data reveals that 97.7% of households in the highest income quartile have access to High Speed Home Internet Plans, while only 58% of households in the lowest income quartile have internet access at home.
Moreover, numerous high-speed internet packages available in Canada come with data caps, setting limits on online data consumption. Additional charges are applied to the user’s monthly bill when these limits are exceeded. In Canada, data caps can be as low as 20GB, significantly lower than the United States’ minimum data cap of 150 GB. These data caps contribute to the digital divide by discouraging online usage, as users fear incurring overage charges for any bandwidth consumed beyond their data cap. This poses additional challenges for low-income families and minority groups, making it harder for them to afford and fully utilize high-speed internet access at home.
In Canada, urban areas enjoy high-speed internet availability, while rural regions lag behind with a low accessibility rate. Many remote locations in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Iqaluit face challenges in establishing high-speed broadband networks due to geographical complexities. The hurdles to broadband infrastructure development are heightened by the lack of motivation for Internet Providers to invest in northern regions. The high costs and limited population density make these areas less financially appealing for ISPs.
The disparities also emerge in the quality of networks accessible to Canadians residing in various parts of the country. Urban dwellers, particularly those in newly constructed or renovated condominiums, are more likely to have access to Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) internet connectivity. In contrast, residents in older neighborhoods often rely on infrastructure based partially on legacy telephone or cable technologies.
With over half of the people living in some Canadian cities being born outside of Canada, immigration is another thing that needs to be considered when looking at the digital gap in the country. Immigrants who have lived in Canada for a while and those born in Canada are more likely to use the internet than immigrants who just moved to Canada.
Finding the difference between who among men and women in Canada have internet access has become increasingly challenging. However, variations persist in the extent and nature of online engagement between genders. Broadly, men in Canada tend to utilize the internet more actively than women. They engage in a greater variety of online activities and generally demonstrate higher involvement levels than their female counterparts.
The level of education achieved by Canadian citizens significantly influences their internet usage patterns. Those who have completed high school go online compared to those without a high school diploma, and individuals currently attending school exhibit an almost five-times higher online access rate in comparison to those lacking a high school diploma. Education levels not only impact the frequency of internet use but also determine the extent of engagement in various online activities. High school graduates tend to participate in more online activities than those without a high school diploma, and university graduates engage in a wider range of online activities compared to individuals with only a high school diploma. Moreover, when it comes to social networking, current students tend to utilize social media services more frequently than those not currently in school, while individuals with less than a high school diploma use social media more often than university graduates.
How do local ISPs bridge the digital divide in Canada?
For this gap to be bridged, everyone must have the same access to educational resources, health care services, job prospects, and social networks as those living in cities. Here are certain ways in which Internet Services provider in Canada help in bridging the digital divide in the country:
Better knowledge of local network:
Local ISPs have a unique advantage in knowing how a community’s digital life works because they know a lot about its traits and technology. This special place lets community-based internet companies see how complex community changes and technological needs affect each other. They are skilled at more than just finding specific connection problems. They can also create and customise networks to meet the needs of the people who live in the area. This includes ensuring that routes, server links, and other technical parts are optimised so the community has a personalised and smooth online experience.
Choosing a neighbourhood business wireless internet service providers is an active way to improve your community. If you pay your internet bill to a local ISP, a large part of your money will stay in the neighbourhood. This can then lead to changes in infrastructure, help pay for local events, and give money to community projects. In addition, helping out your local ISPs indirectly creates jobs in your town or city for everything from techs to customer service reps, which makes it easier to find work close to home. By a simple search with the keyword, an ISP near me will get you information on all the ISPs in your locality.
Provides competitive pricing:
Consumers usually get better deals and lower prices when there is more competition, especially when local ISPs join the market. There are generally only one or two big players in a market, so costs and terms can be set without worrying about being undercut. Adding a new player, especially a local ISP, changes this scenario by increasing the number of internet service providers, which makes prices more competitive. This gives customers more options, but it also usually means they get more data for their money. This also means a place where companies are encouraged to develop new ideas and improve their services, ensuring that people get the best services possible.
In conclusion, it turns out that local ISPs are more than just the competitors in the internet world. Most of the time, they have a big effect that can compete with even the heavyweight winners. They offer fast services with a personal touch.
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