Broadband is fine – until somebody trips over the chord.

One of the promising environmental benefits of the new information society is the increased efficiency of communication. There are people who used to commute to an office everyday who now work at home. Some businesses are also moving to cloud computing and using servers and applications which run more efficiently off site. Even a normal home user benefits by being able to shop on-line and do other chores which used to require physical transportation. It’s an energy saving world.

It sounds good when you talk about it, but there’s a bit of a disconnect with the real world. Just as a small example: I am sitting here for the umpteenth time without an internet connection and I can’t even check my e-mail. Here we are at the end of March, and according to my records I’ve been down about 60 hours so far this year – and I’m not counting the time that I was asleep. Using those figures my downtime would average out to 240 hours in a year, or about thirty 8 hour days. That’s not the kind of loss that a business could tolerate. Obviously a connectivity dependent concern would not be viable here.

In an effort to bring Canada on-line, wireless internet has now been installed in many small communities across the country. This was part of a larger plan to bring Canadian connectivity up to snuff and more on par with the rest of the world. Supposedly we can now shop on-line, download movies, and keep abreast of what’s happening at the office. To me it looks like rural connectivity is still an urban myth.

If the new information economy is considered important and rural connectivity is supposed to be part of that, then there’s something wrong. Does the information highway actually pass by here, or does it pass us by? I think that if we can’t even answer our e-mail in a timely manner then it’s time to ask for federal aid. At the very least they should tape down the chord so someone doesn’t trip over it.

~ Ole Juul

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