Is Internet access now an essential service for all Canadians?
With guest host Lorna Dueck
Today we want to talk about Internet access. Calgary recently announced plans to provide free Wi-Fi Internet service in many public places in the city ...that includes parks and several public spaces. It is not the first time a city has attempted to expand their citizens' access to the Internet. Several cities have tried it with varying degrees of success. This announcement comes soon after Parks Canada announced it would provide Wi-Fi access in some of the buildings in its wilderness parks. Both moves have raised questions about how important is easy Internet access? Is it fundamentally different from other services such as the simple telephone? Should it be free for everybody? Do we need to be connected everywhere?
When the Internet first started to gain wider attention and use in the mid-1990's, it had developed from a rough network used mainly by the military and academics to exchange text information. With the advent of the World Wide Web and its graphic interface, it rapidly became a popular way to create and obtain information on a wide range of activities and subjects. There was talk of it transforming society because information would become democratized and readily available to all. It is this idea that still drives attempts to broaden Internet access.
While businesses have thrived on being able to present their goods and services online and sell them there too ...governments have increasingly looked to the network as a means to connect with citizens ...a way to convey large amounts of information, provide forms and access that previously could only be done by seeking out and lining up in government offices. There is also considerable pressure to move the ultimate democratic activity online ...voting.
The Canadian government has been in the forefront of providing online services ...e-government as some call it. In 2002 Canada was ranked first out of 23 countries delivering services online. That ranking has fallen somewhat over the succeeding 12 years, as more countries have boosted their offerings.
As the 'virtual' relationship between government and citizens grows, does it become incumbent on governments at every level ...federal, provincial and municipal ...to ensure that all citizens have easy access to the Internet? Some say, 'no ....why spend public money on something that is used mainly to download movies, update Facebook, post selfies, and twitter on about nothing much.'
We want to know what you think about this?
Our topic today: "Is Internet access now an essential service for all Canadians? Should it be free and everywhere?"
I'm Lorna Dueck ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Naheed Nenshi
Mayor of Calgary
- Rita Trichur
Reporter, The Wall Street Journal Canada Bureau.
- Linda Vennard
Professor Department of Communication and Culture at University of Calgary and organizer Digital Futures Symposium.
- Clive Thompson
Writer for Wired magazine and the New York Times magazine. Author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better.
- Free Wi-Fi now at 4 Calgary parks: Hot spots also planned for some LRT stations
- Cisco picks Toronto as one of 4 global innovation hubs
- Wireless spectrum needs to be used, Ottawa warns telecoms
- Why Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow wants free wifi in public spaces
- Wi-Fi in the wild: Canada's national parks plan to add wireless access in some locations
- Embrace the WiFi miracle, by Chris Selley
- Parks Canada's Wi-Fi in the woods means you can take your daily stress with you, by Kelly McParland
- With Fiber and balloons, Google building Internet services that may challenge telecom industry
Globe and Mail
- Users of city's free public Wi-Fi must give phone number, address to Shaw
- City-wide free Wi-Fi coming to parks, arenas and LRT stations
Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management
- How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer : Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? There's a cure for that.