People need faster internet, but it’s not just for streaming Netflix. Fast and affordable internet access will be this generation’s greatest leveller, providing better opportunities for education, business, and health. Fiber internet has the ability to empower communities and provide a platform for growth but as of right now, only 42% of rural households have access to high-speed internet.
Jobs & Economic Growth
There are many benefits of fiber internet when it comes to business. Better internet means better business opportunities, both for individuals and for companies. Brain drain is the migration of intelligent people from certain areas, especially rural communities, because there are no opportunities that match their skill set.
According to the Government of Canada, lack of internet access is the number one issue preventing economic growth in rural areas. Smart people move away because of the lack of opportunities, but businesses struggle to operate in rural areas because of the lack of internet infrastructure.
Improved internet access through fiber internet can provide opportunities for businesses big and small. Better internet means almost anyone can open a small online business for very little start-up costs and larger companies can save too. Faster internet speeds can save larger businesses thousands of dollars per year by improving efficiency and operations.
Fiber internet has immense potential to improve education, especially in rural areas. Education is a pillar of sustainable development and the internet has the power to make education much more accessible.
In many developing countries, lack of internet is preventing better education opportunities. Even in developed nations like Canada and the US, poor internet access in rural areas has a big impact on students.
72% of public schools don’t have fast enough internet connections to take advantage of online learning opportunities. With faster internet, there is a wealth of online resources to help teachers educate students.
Online resources can make lessons more engaging and improve communication between teachers and students. The internet gives teachers and students access to the most up to date information on a subject and resources outside their school. Online education can make a big difference in continuing education, too, with 9% of Canadians completing their education online.
News & Communication
The internet has become an essential part of how we communicate and share news. From video calling family members to sharing breaking news, the internet is a huge part of both.
Even if you get your news from traditional sources like newspapers, there’s a pretty good chance you’re viewing that news online. 44% of Canadians rely on the internet for news. Those traditional news sources rely a lot on the internet too, not only to share information, but to get information.
The internet helps news sources identify what stories might be news-worthy. This is especially important in rural areas that might not have a dedicated news outlet and in countries that don’t have freedom of the press.
Internet access and social media platforms have played crucial roles in the overthrowing of authoritarian governments around the world, including the Arab Spring. People use social media to organize protests and to share information with the world.
On a smaller scale, the internet can empower rural communities that might not have the same infrastructure or programs to share information. Emergency warning systems, local news, and even buy and sell groups can be improved with the internet.
70% of Canadians search online for health information, making the internet an important resource for patients and doctors. Both can get an idea of what a health problem could be through using a wealth of online resources.
Online databases can give doctors instant access to the latest diagnostic and treatment information as well as better training opportunities. And while most people still visit their doctor in person today, that could be changing pretty quickly.
Telehealth is an emerging field that allows people to be treated by doctors without actually visiting a doctor. Through a video chat, you can speak with a doctor and receive a diagnosis. This idea will greatly impact people in rural communities where the nearest doctor could be over an hour away. As access to faster internet like fiber internet improves, telehealth has the potential to replace 75% of doctor’s visits.
More and more Canadian Provinces are looking to provide “healthcare equality” meaning that the quality of healthcare must be equal regardless of whether the patient lives (rural or urban). For example, today, a cancer patient in Pincher Creek, Alberta may have to go to Calgary for treatment. This means one day of travel each way, plus a day to meet the doctor. The patient not only has to pay the travel expenses but has also spent three days doing what should only take one. With fiber internet, the patient could get a blood test at their local clinic and then have a video call with their doctor to discuss the results. Not only does the patient save time and money, but the doctor saves time and can see more patients.
Ready for the Future
In order to get the growth internet promises, Canadians need access to better internet. Rural Canadians are the most in need, with many relying on cable and satellite internet. Fiber internet can provide internet speeds of 1,000 Mbps, which is more than fast enough for internet demands today and tomorrow. If you’re interested in fiber internet for your community, fill out our interest survey.