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Kenny Yum

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Canada's Digital Divide

Posted: 11/14/2013 5:36 am

What is it like to be a citizen in a digital age? And what type of nation are we in a digitized world?

Many of us can't look away from our screens -- second screens, TV sets, mobile phones, desktops. Spend any time in a commuter train and you'll see tablets held in place of books, phones where newspapers once were. We're increasingly disconnected from each other, but we're hyperconnected through tweets, Facebook updates, messages and emails.

Today we launch our Digital Divide series, and we start by asking, who are we leaving behind? Is access to broadband internet and literacy in technology crucial? Do we need to redefine what are basic needs?

The divide -- borne of inequality -- does hit all Canadians. Consider your telecom bills. Many Canadians are paying more for service in an uncompetitive landscape. We fight for two-year contracts, we bemoan the pricing for internet access. First world problems, right? Except when you're not getting First World internet.

We are a nation that's cutting the cord. A survey of almost 1,000 HuffPost readers, though by no means scientific, shows a revolt against the status quo. Half of respondents told us they have already abandoned the land line, and 40 per cent have cut traditional cable and satellite TV. If our readers are early adopters, then consider this: The people who have yet to eject are considering cable and satellite (49%) and phone (39%).

Price and quality of service is a huge concern. Eighty seven per cent of our readers who were asked said they believe they're paying too much for telecom services. Most Canadians (69 per cent) want to unbundle and pick their programming. It's not a surprise that 39 per cent of the readers we surveyed told us they use Netflix and 17 per cent said they purchase entertainment through iTunes. CanCon does not matter to Canadians when it comes to Netflix programming (7 per cent) and 82 per cent want to abolish mandatory carriage funding that powers basic digital cable.

"Telecoms have become an essential part of our individual functioning in the market, yet are under-regulated and create cartels," one reader told us. "The consumers end up paying with very little choice.

Today we start with a piece on Canadians who are on the fringes of the digital society, where access itself is an impediment. They are not a small group -- 20 per cent of Canadians haven't used the internet in the last year, Angelina Chapin reports.

We'll also tackle wireless rates, cord cutting, the Netflix revolution, the urban-rural divide and the role of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. Also, we'll be listening to you. It was your interest in our stories on wireless competition, telecoms and digital privacy that sparked our series. Please add to the conversation.

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  • The Top 5- Canada's Favourite Cellphone Companies

  • 5. Mobilicity

  • 4. Public Mobile

  • 3. WIND Mobile

    Pictured: Wind Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera

  • 2. Virgin Mobile

  • 1. Koodo Mobile

  • The Bottom 5- Canada's Least Favourite Cellphone Companies

  • 5. SaskTel

  • 4. Fido

  • 3. Telus

  • 2. Bell

  • 1. Rogers

 

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