Butt: Behind the Times

Last night I phoned my sister who lives up in Prince Rupert. We don’t talk that often, so between her family, raising two children, and my pursuit of higher learning, talking on the phone is like catching up with a long lost relative. So we talked for a while: 110 minutes to be exact.

One of the themes that we talked about was her reluctance to join the wired, or wireless community on-line. She has a computer, the bare essential for connecting to the on-line world, and she has the know-how because she was once connected, but the problem seems to the service.

The quality of service is what seems to be driving a lot of people who live up in Northern communities from not participating in the on-line experience. Service from the smaller monopolies who supply the community with their telecommunication needs are far more ridged with their customers than the areas of the country that have competition, where people can choose from more than one provider–as a consumers should. This is my right-wing concept for today.

For my sister and her family, the on-line experience is just a “known but untapped reality.” Her children do have access to the Internet at their school, and they can go to the public library to send emails, so the question is are they socially disconnected from the rest of society compared to the the Southern populations of the Provence? For my sister, they have the income to buy the connection to the on-line world, but they refuse to pay their Internet Provider their money because of the policies that the telecommunication company has adopted.

One example of the poor costumer policy practice is how fast the disconnection can occur during a mistake. Last November there was a billing error made with the telephone from which the money was not taken and cleared from the financial institution until 48 hours before the due date. On the 31st of the month their phone was disconnected. When she contacted the telecommunication office, they told her that once a problem occurs, they cut service first, then clear it up and money issues second. Not only does this prompts the customer in finding the mistake, but their is a re-hook-up fee also–what a deal! In her case, the money was paid but because it takes the telecommunication company several days to process the cheques, service was cut, so many costumers will find disruptions to their service as a result.

For my sister and their family the choice was to fully disconet themselves from the network altogether, and use what little services they can get from the Mainland. Regratebly, Canada’s CRTC rules make it very dificult for competitive companies to over lap their services in mremote communities, such a phone networks–to prevent competition in spars areas. My sister uses a Cell phone that is only 50 percent connected, but is 60 percent cheaper than the local product available to her. This choice is a common delema amoung the Northern populations who wnat to be connected to the rest of the world, but are “paying far more for far the less service” than the populated areas of the country.

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