The Plan for Improved High-Speed Internet Access in Canada

The Plan for Improved High-Speed Internet Access in Canada | Comwave
date img Mar 5 2023 auther iconNathan Thomas

It’s no secret that everyone needs internet access, especially at home. After all, it’s what makes working from home, streaming, staying in touch on social media, learning, gaming, and more, possible.

In fact, the internet has become so integral to everyday life that the United Nations declared internet access a human right in 2016. And while Canada’s biggest cities mostly have access to reliable, high-speed internet, it’s not true for everyone—particularly low-income families and seniors—nor across the country outside urban areas.

In light of this, the Canadian government has committed to making high-speed internet more accessible and affordable for everyone. Through the Connecting Families initiative, more people, particularly disadvantaged populations, can get fast and cheap home internet, without paying notoriously expensive prices.

Do you need fast and cheap internet? Learn more about the Connecting Families initiative, and how you can get the best deal for home internet with a trusted provider like Comwave.

What is the Connecting Families initiative?

In August 2021, Canada’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development unveiled a plan for implementing the UN’s declaration on the right to internet access. Connecting Families is an initiative designed to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families and seniors access affordable, high-speed home internet by 2022.

Historic Strides in the Digital Age: The Importance of the Connecting Families Initiative

By rolling out the Connecting Families initiative, the Government of Canada shines a spotlight on current internet inequity across the country. 

With monthly internet bills skyrocketing to upwards of $100, the government recognizes that most high-speed home internet services are far from affordable and accessible. And while there have been increased calls to legislate internet access as a public utility, Connecting Families takes the first step by making home internet cheaper and more accessible to those who need it most.

The Connecting Families initiative also builds on lessons coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more job, learning, and training opportunities shift online, disadvantaged groups, particularly low-income families and seniors have been at the highest risk of missing out. Increasing access to fast and cheap home internet makes it possible for them to participate in online and digital ways of working, living, and connecting with their community.

How does the Connecting Families initiative work?

The Connecting Families initiative has officially launched, with access codes mailed to eligible households. Since its announcement in 2021, the initiative has now expanded to its second phase.

The initiative is a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and 14 internet service providers to make fast and cheap home internet accessible to low-income families and seniors.

Here’s how it works:

  • Participating families and seniors pay a $20 monthly service fee
  • Participants will be able to access high-speed internet, defined by the Canadian-Radio Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as speeds of at least 50 Mbps for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads (50/10)
  • Participating households will be allocated up to 200 Gb of data usage monthly, an increase from the previous 100 Gb allotment.

Bridging Canada’s Digital Divide: Geographic and Income-Based Internet Inequities

In broad terms, the “digital divide” refers to gaps in internet and ICT (information, communication, and technology) access among populations. 

On a global scale, this divide often refers to varying levels of advancement in the internet and communications infrastructure of some countries over others. But even in countries considered to have advanced infrastructure and widespread internet access, the digital divide can still exist. Canada is one of these countries.

Urban vs. Rural Internet Access

In Canada, the digital divide is mostly seen in urban vs. rural areas, and in terms of affordability. According to the CRTC, 91.4% of Canadian households have access to high-speed internet, thus meeting the 50/10 ratio. However:

  • Only 62% of rural communities have access to high-speed broadband internet
  • Only 49.3% in the northern Canada have high-speed internet
  • And only 43.3% among First Nations reserve areas are covered.

With over 81% of the Canadian population living in cities and over 95% within 160 km of the Canada-US border, the connectivity needs of rural communities have been underserved. The sheer volume of Canada’s population in urban areas has pushed many internet service providers to continuously boost the fastest available speeds there, but not so much in rural communities. As a result, many homes in northern Canada, especially First Nations and Indigenous communities suffer from a lack of access to affordable high-speed internet.

The High Cost of Home Internet Plans in Canada

In terms of the affordability of high-speed internet in Canada, the biggest barrier that low-income populations face is price. Canada is notoriously ranked among countries with the highest prices for home internet.  This means, lower-income families have trouble accessing fast and cheap internet, putting them at a severe disadvantage when looking for new jobs and trying to join the growing remote workforce.

This also isn’t helped by the fact that Canada’s internet service provider industry is dominated by Bell, Rogers, and Telus, dubbed as the “Big Three”. As a result, Canadians have few choices for fast and cheap internet across the country, especially in rural communities where there are even fewer internet service providers.

Get Fast and Cheap Home Internet from Comwave

At Comwave, we have always been committed to bringing fast and cheap internet to more communities in Canada, especially to vulnerable groups. As an independent home internet provider, we’re committed to keeping our prices low and accessible to more low-income families, seniors, and other groups that have not been able to participate in Canada’s growing digital economy.

Even prior to the Connecting Families initiative, Comwave has consistently offered some of the fastest and cheapest internet plans across Canada. All Comwave home internet plans not only come with the fastest speeds at the cheapest prices, but unlimited data as well. More importantly, we’re committed to bringing the same fast and cheap internet to more rural and urban communities, so everyone in Canada can access unlimited high-speed internet.

Are you looking for affordable home internet? Browse Comwave’s home internet plans, and discover the fastest and cheapest internet for every need and budget.

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