Week 4 Main Post: City Hall And Digital Divide

I expected formality and professionalism on my first visit to City Hall. And though there were elements of both, it was much more casual than I expected. The meeting resembled a structured conversation where councillors were allowed to speak for an allocated amount of time on a specific issue.

The experience was far from boring. In fact, at times, I felt overwhelmed as I tried to soak it all in. Many individuals from councillors to other members in the audience came and went. I found that my eyes would linger when I saw someone stand to leave.

One day I would like to go back. I think City Hall itself is a fascinating building and an interesting tourist spot.City Hall Meeting
The Digital Divide came up in their discussion.

More specifically, they were going back and forth on a motion of whether or not internet costs should be regulated by the government. It’s a relevant issue, especially as costs continue to rise. Companies like Bell and Rogers are two of the biggest Internet providers. It almost feels like these two companies have a duopoly, meaning Bell and Rogers dominate the Internet service market, which makes it harder for other businesses to compete against them. More importantly, this duopoly means regulation of prices by the government or some other body of power is more difficult.

The divide between those who can access the Internet and those who cannot continues to be a growing concern for all. It’s difficult for those in lower-income neighbourhoods to access technology such as computers or smartphones. And for the individuals who do, the access is limited.

According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), more than 80 percent of Canadian households have access to the Internet. Although that number seems high, it isn’t as high as other countries such as Iceland or Denmark where over 90 percent of homes have a connection to the World Wide Web.

It’s interesting to note the varying rates of access across the country. Statistics Canada did a study on Canadian Internet usage back in 2012, determining the percentage of household access by province. It found that British Columbia and Alberta ranked the highest while New Brunswick had the lowest percentage.

I personally cannot imagine my life without the Web. Regardless I’m still baffled by how much my parents pay every month.

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