Cross Country Checkup

Is Internet access now an essential service for all Canadians?

Internet for all: The City of Calgary is launching a new, free public Wi-Fi service in parks and public places.  It is not the only place to try to make the Internet accessible to everyone wherever they are.Is Internet access now an essential service for all Canadians? Should it be free?With guest host Lorna Dueck...
  Internet for all: The City of Calgary is launching a new, free public Wi-Fi service in parks and public places.  It is not the only place to try to make the Internet accessible to everyone wherever they are.
  Is Internet access now an essential service for all Canadians? Should it be free? 

With guest host  Lorna Dueck


Guests & Links      Twitter & E-Mail      Download mp3 (right click, choose 'Save Target As')   



Introduction

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.


Guests


  • Naheed Nenshi
    Mayor of Calgary
    Twitter: @nenshi



  •    
  • Rita Trichur
    Reporter, The Wall Street Journal Canada Bureau.
    Twitter: @RitaTrichur



  •    
  • 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.
    Twitter: @pomeranian99



Links

CBC


Canada.com


National Post


Globe and Mail


Huffington Post


Calgary Herald


Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management


Mother Jones


Twitter & E-Mail


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