A new report has found that there is a growing “digital divide” between Kingston’s urban and rural areas. The report by Limestone Analytics finds that rural Kingstonians are likely to pay $15 more per month for high speed broadband internet than their urban counterparts.
For a rural resident with 10 mbps (non-Fiber to the premises) download speed and 2mbps upload speed (non-FTTP), the average consumer will pay $78 per month. For an urban resident who has a 40 mbps download speed and 10 mbps upload speed, the average cost will be $63 per month. The results were gathered through a study which surveyed Kingstonians on their internet speed costs over a five year period.
The digital divide in the city is exacerbated by two factors. First, there is a lack of high quality internet options due to slow rollout of new technologies. Second, high-quality internet is not affordable thus making it difficult to access.
Some of the blame is directed at the “over-simplified’ definition of high speed broadband connectivity which Limestone Analytics states does not meet the current needs of internet users.
“Broadband Internet should be seen as a spectrum of quality along which different network architectures can be categorized from ‘poor’ to ‘best.’ FTTP is the best broadband architecture available, and the only architecture capable of providing service that will meet society’s current and future fixed broadband needs,” the report said.
In order to close the gap between the city’s urban and rural internet connectivity, a conservative estimate finds that establishing the proper infrastructure will cost between $23 million and $87 million dollars.
However, the report finds that establishing the infrastructure will yield residents a value of $88 million or over $12,000 per household.
While there will be a significant benefit for households, companies won’t experience the same benefits. As a result, the report is suggesting that some government funding be used to supplement this cost.
City Council will be taking up this issue given that COVID-19 has made internet connectivity a more pressing issue in recent months. A motion has been tabled that asks city officials to investigate the report further and provide a financial analysis of the situation, including any funding available by the Federal Government.
In November, the Trudeau Government announced that they will provide $750 million in funding over a five year period to close the “digital divide” in Canada.