Why ‘second-class citizens’ don’t deserve high-speed internet access

internetThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, a federal regulator, is on the hot seat after comments from Liberal MP Marc Garneau, who stated that high-speed internet must be a part of the CRTC’s “basic service objective” or else those without access will become “second-class citizens.”

I cannot agree with a statement that suggests those without internet are second-class. This may possibly become a reality far, far down the road, for reasons other than Marc suggests, but that certainly is not so in the present or foreseeable future.

However, I digress. The real issue I have here is why people believe that all of Canada must be bathed in turbo-charged internet connections, lest we tumble backward into the Dark Ages.

First, consider financial viability. Private-sector internet providers have no interest in this. Internet services functions by area, so the higher the density, the more revenue generated. Delivering internet to remote areas is expensive to implement and lacks anything resembling a justified return on investment. Plus, these areas aren’t even staged for growth – and without any outside incentives, either, who’s to bother?

Second, consider lifestyle. To generalize, there are two types of people in remote areas: those living a more country lifestyle, and those with vacation homes. The former lives where they live by choice, and they reap a host of benefits, none of which are – or should be – high-speed internet. After all, you don’t see Vancouver urbanites complaining that their condos don’t come with an acre of farm-ready land, do you? People live where their lifestyle thrives, and not everyone can have everything they want. It just doesn’t work; comprimising is a natural component of reality. And those vacationing… you shouldn’t even be thinking about the internet.

Besides, do we really want a world where it’s literally impossible to disconnect yourself from the virtual realm? Having a place to truly escape may prove invaluable in a few years.

Third, consider the enviornmental impact. By extending so many basic services to remote areas, urban density is not supported. And as sustainability becomes increasingly crucial as the world over-populates, and expansive suburban sprawls prove to be considerably more environmentally damaging than master-planned highrise communities, shifting more of the population closer to core cities materializes into a major priority.

People without high-speed internet aren’t second-class, they’re just people without high-speed internet. And if they really, truly want it, I say come get it – we’ve got plenty here.