It’s no secret that the world is increasingly becoming tied to the internet. Everything from entertainment to work to finances has been making the move online and school is no exception to the move onto the world wide web.
“The amount of online courses are becoming more and more prevalent,” said Alex Howarth, a third-year history student at Carleton University.
Howarth added that even courses that are based offline have begun to add in digital content, such as posting the syllabus and schedule of a course to the net. That’s not getting into doing research for classes.
“I would say a good 95 percent of the research I do is online,” said Howarth.
There has been a lot of talk about how the internet in Canada is lagging behind the pack when it comes to the price we pay versus what we get.
“We’re definitely behind,” said Alex Dawson, creator of the iOS game Aliens Above. “And I don’t think it’s just because we’re a large country, although that’s definitely a large part of it.
Canada is, compared to other countries, it’s very, very large and very, very sparse. You don’t have a huge amount of population density like in the United States or Europe.”
“We’re behind the United States, but not by much,” said James Wilson, interim leader of the Pirate Party of Canada. “But we’re behind a lot of Asian countries. Korea curb-stomps us when it comes to internet access and there’s a few reasons for that.”
One of the reasons Wilson provided was that Canada is made of local monopolies or oligarchies where a small number of companies control all the infrastructure.
“In New Brunswick you have Rogers or Bell Aliant. Other than them, there’s not a lot of competition so it does raise the prices quite a bit,” said Wilson. “Plus, because Canada has a lot of rural areas there’s not a lot of incentive to expand the network.”
These rural areas can wind up with lesser and at times insufficient internet service in an era where we’re dependant on the internet to do research.
“Because a lot of rural areas don’t have the same internet access it actually leaves them behind,” said Wilson. “So really if you’re living in a rural area or you’re a student your options really are to go without, which does affect your education, or to move to a more populated area, which if you’re still in high-school isn’t an option and if you’re in university you probably already have done.”
There are smaller companies that offer faster internet for lower prices, but these don’t own any of the lines, instead they rent out lines from the bigger companies, when and where they can.
“The best that they can do is own shares in data centres,” said Dawson. “They’re going to be paying the large ISPs for access to the network. Rather than being just direct competition like you would expect from two businesses in any other area, they’re customers because there is this monopoly.”
Smaller ISPs can’t always get lines though, and it comes back to how all the lines are controlled by a handful of big companies that hold all the cards in this poker game of internet provision.
“They have a monopoly on internet providers,” said Howarth. “So they don’t have any competition so they can afford to charge as much as they want.”