With the lockdown brought on by COVID-19 more and more people are reliant on internet access and its speed and quality.
Tenuous at best in many parts of Mono and Dufferin during normal times, internet bandwidth is now stretched. According to a CBC report, Bell is experiencing a 60% growth in daytime usage while nighttime usage is up by 30% and that was almost one month ago.
More critically, the CRTC estimates that only 40.8% of rural households even have high speed internet. Due to the way this is measured, the percentage is actually much lower.
All this will take time as many of us in Mono to struggle with substandard speed and service.
Suddenly the demands on our internet have hugely increased due to working at home, students faced with more online learning, more demand for home based entertainment and a huge increase in our reliance on the internet to keep us connected with our friends.
Businesses have seen their employees can be just as productive if not more so operating from home. Presently, many home businesses are rejecting rural Dufferin as a suitable location for them to operate
Governments have discovered they can effectively conduct business by way of Zoom, GoToMeeting and other platforms while at the same time allowing public access to and participation in meetings.
Even as we climb out of our present circumstances, it will only get more challenging.
There is no going back. These issues and the internet infrastructure need to improve dramatically to meet the demand and challenge.
So what can we do in the mean time?
In no particular order:
- If you are experiencing slow or irregular internet service, try unplugging your router, letting it sit for 20 seconds and then plugging it in. This may clear the ‘cobwebs’ out of your connection.
- If your modern is more than two years old you may benefit from an upgrade. Contact your provider to see whether they will provide a newer modem. Often, they will without debate.
- Shop around for other providers of internet service and different products. There are too few choices, but they do exist.
- If you believe you have been ‘gouged’ by an internet service provider or have substandard service, here’s what you can do:
-Write to MP Kyle Seeback — Kyle.Seeback@parl.gc.ca and MPP Sylvia Jones — firstname.lastname@example.org and the Chair of the CRTC Ian Scott — email@example.com
-File a complaint for gouging in times of COVID crisis. Use the 'other' category on the form and describe your circumstances
The inadequacy of our rural internet access was highlighted by COVID-19. The economic, educational and recreational demands for high speed internet will not go away.
Here in Mono we’ve formed a Task Force to examine ways of improving local service. Discussions have taken place with large providers and startup entrepreneurs. We are looking at encouraging local, small scale high speed wireless solutions.
In short, we believe it’s time to stop dithering around and seize the moment to find solutions.