Slow internet in 2023 is outrageous

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There is no doubt that much of our world is now lived online – work, socializing, and communicating all often make use of the internet. For many people, entertainment is also delivered via the internet in the form of music streaming services, and content streaming services such as Netflix. The internet is an ingenious invention. While nothing can ever replace the value of face-to-face socializing, things such as working from home are made possible only because of the internet. This also does wonders for the planet, seeing as people who work from home don’t need to pollute by driving into work. 

Lately, I have been hearing from locals that we need faster internet and better internet coverage areas. I could not agree more. The internet is “new” when looking at all of human history, but it is far from new for most people reading this. We had internet at home when I was a young child. Yes, it was dial up, meaning that we had to formally connect and disconnect each time we had to use it, but we had internet. Yes, it was so slow that by the time my basic online computer game loaded, my parents were already making me get off so that we didn’t exceed the bandwidth limit, but we had internet. Yes we would have to log off in order for someone to make a phone call because it was impossible to use the house phone and the gigantic, slow, Windows 95 computer at the same time, but we had internet. 

More than 20 years later, why on Earth are we having to fight for decent internet service? Because of all that we expect the internet to do for us, in terms of streaming services, online gaming, smart home products, and working from home which often includes video conferencing, it is now recommended that every household has a minimum internet download speed of 50 mbps. Keep this number in mind. 

When my wife and I bought our house, there was only one provider that could offer us 50 mbps. It was a wireless internet provider that I shall not name, but suffice to say that many people know them for their horrible reputation. I called with genuine concerns that if I signed up, we would not get the speeds we pay for despite it being a very expensive monthly plan. The salesperson was a smooth talker and he reeled me in. Long story short, the internet from this provider was garbage. We could barely stream one video, let alone work from home or use several different devices simultaneously. I used a website to check our download speed – we were getting 0.9 mbps on the day that I checked. We had waited too long to cancel and had no recourse but to cancel the service with a $200 fee. Could we go after them for not delivering what they said they would? No, because the fine print says that the plan is for a 50 mbps maximum speed, not a guaranteed speed. 

We ended up switching to Bell, who I will name because even though the phone lines on our street will only support a maximum speed of 25 mbps, we have been happy with the service and have had no problems since switching. 

It is no secret that upgrades and advances come to small towns and rural areas very late compared to when these advantages hit big cities. Part of that is the reason why city living is so expensive compared to country living – the cost is for the conveniences and the amenities. But internet is no longer a luxury or a cool new thing. It is intertwined with every bit of our lives, from work to communication to play. It is essential for rural residents just as much as city dwellers, and it is time for governments to step up and make infrastructure upgrades a priority. We deserve at least the minimum recommended speed of 50 mbps in all areas of the Municipality, as does everyone else in Canada. It’s time for governments to stop dragging their feet and get to work!

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