A Rogers Communications initiative will help “bridge Canada's digital divide” by providing residents of Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) with low-cost Internet access.
Rogers' president of communications, Rob Bruce, announced the company's pilot program, Connected for Success, on Monday.
"It's unfathomable that Canadians are living without internet access today because they simply cannot afford it. With Connected for Success we've taken the first step to connect youth and we urge our competitors, our partners and communities to work with us to bridge Canada's digital divide," he said, according to a press release.
For $9.99 a month, those who qualify can get a broadband connection with a speed of 3Mbps and a usage allowance of up to 30 GB. Rogers’ cheapest Internet package offers a download speed of 6Mbps and a usage allowance of 20 GB for $41.49 per month.
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TCHC, which serves about 164,000 low and moderate-income tenants, will set the criteria that decides who qualifies for the program, according to The Globe and Mail, and around one-third to a half of TCHC’s households will likely participate.
Bruce said roughly 20 per cent of those in Toronto's community housing have Internet access, compared to 80 per cent of Ontario homes, according to the Financial Post.
Tech journalist and blogger Peter Nowak called the project a positive development, but noted on his blog the Internet speed offered is “slow by today’s standards and doesn’t qualify under most definitions of broadband, which generally start at 4 Mbps (the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is aiming for a minimum of 5 Mbps by 2015).”
A Rogers spokesperson said the company will probably improve the speed in the next year or two, he added.
For $150, program participants can also get a computer outfitted with software, thanks to support from Microsoft and Compugen.
Connected for Success will begin in August and Rogers plans to analyze whether the program can expand to other cities, The Globe reported.