Posts Tagged ‘internet’
I was very surprised to see on the Cavendish Boardwalk last month a pay phone with the insignia of Island Telecom. Since amalgamated into Bell Aliant, Island Tel was effectively the local telecommunications monopoly on the Island since 1885. (Dave Hunter’s history of the telephone on Prince Edward Island is worth reading.) Previously, I mentioned it here when I linked Peter Rukavina’s post on the early days of the Internet on Prince Edward Island.
Dismebarking Monday evening at Dundas station, I was surprised to see this sign announcing the impending installation of Wi-Fi there. The TTC has been offering wireless Internet for a year at its St. George and Yonge-Bloor locations on the Bloor line, and service has just been added to the Bay station that lies between the two. Dundas, though, is several stations south of the Bloor line, several stations south of Yonge-Bloor. Will Wi-Fi be added to more of the stops on this line, on a shortened time schedule, too?
Torontoist’s Peter Goffin reported that public libraries in New York City and Chicago are now lending WiFi hotspots to their clients. This has relevance for Toronto, of course.
Last week, the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Chicago Public Library (CPL) were among 19 winners of a grant competition seeking to fund projects that “strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.” Both received money for programs that allow library patrons to borrow Wi-Fi hotspot devices in the same way they borrow books—NYPL for its “Check out the Internet” project, which offers free internet services and media literacy education to low-income families; and CPL for “Internet to Go,” a similar program operating in six neighbourhoods where less than 50 per cent of the population has internet access.
NYPL has conducted a survey of people who take advantage of the free internet and computers in libraries around New York. It found that 55 per cent of them did not have internet access at home. And among library internet users whose household income fell below $25,000, 65 per cent were without the web.
So why does this matter? And why is it worth awarding a combined $900,000 to the NYPL and CPL?
Consider this: the internet is the world’s primary means of learning and communication, and a significant venue for social interaction. Several countries have declared internet access a human right, because it facilitates so many other rights, including to free expression, education, peaceful assembly, and access to healthcare. To be without the internet today—when everything from job applications, to apartment listings, to access to social services can be found online—is to ride a horse in the Daytona 500. Those who can’t afford access are doomed to fall behind.
As of 2012, 42 per cent of Canadian households with an income of $30,000 or less lack internet access, compared to 2 per cent of households with an income of at least $94,000. In Toronto, a whopping 80 per cent of public housing units are without a web connection, while just 20 per cent of homes province-wide lack access.