Transcript: Rationing the Internet in Eastern Ontario | Oct 23, 2020

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie.

A caption on screen reads "Rationing the Internet in Eastern Ontario. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

A wall screen behind him reads "Ontario Hubs."

Jeyan says IT'S CERTAINLY NOT FUNNY, BUT FOR MANY IN RURAL ONTARIO, INADEQUATE INTERNET ACCESS IS SOMETHING OF A RUNNING JOKE. THAT'S PART OF WHAT ASSISTANT EDITOR AT TVO.org ASHLEY OKWUOSA FOUND AS SHE LOOKED INTO THIS STORY IN EASTERN ONTARIO. SHE'S WITH US NOW FROM THE WEST END OF TORONTO TO EXPLAIN...

Ashley is in her thirties, with long curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray shirt.

Jeyan continues WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

Ashley says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Jeyan says ALL RIGHT. THERE ARE TWO TAKE AWAYS FROM YOUR PIECE ON TVO.org. ONE, I TAKE MY INTERNET ACCESS FOR GRANTED. TWO, THERE ARE PARTS OF THIS PROVINCE STILL IN THE DIAL-UP AGE. YOU SPOKE TO FAMILIES WHO ARE JUGGLING THE HOME SCHOOLING AND THE WORKING FROM HOME. TELL US WHAT YOU HEARD.

The caption changes to "Ashley Okwuosa. Ontario Hubs Assistant Editor."
Then, it changes again to "Broadband shortage."

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/OntarioHubs. Eastern. Why is getting -and staying- online so difficult in Eastern Ontario? By Ashley Okwuosa."

Ashley says YEAH. SO I SPOKE TO TWO FAMILIES TO A TOWNSHIP IN PETERBOROUGH. SOME HAVE HAD PROBLEMS FOR AS LONG AS THEY'VE LIVED IN THE TOWNSHIP. WHAT WE WERE SEEING WAS THESE ISSUES WERE EXACERBATED BY THE FACT THAT EVERYONE WAS WORKING FROM HOME. SO ONE FAMILY WENT FROM HAVING ONE PERSON WORK FROM HOME MAYBE ONE DAY A WEEK TO FOUR PEOPLE WORKING FROM HOME AND TRYING TO GO TO SCHOOL OR ZOOM CLASSES AND THINGS LIKE THAT FOUR OR FIVE DAYS A WEEK. AND ONE FAMILY THEY ACTUALLY HAVE TO STAGGER WHEN THEY WOULD GET ON THE INTERNET, SO MAYBE THE PARENTS WILL BE DOING CALLS AT ONE TIME AND STUDENTS WILL BE... THEIR KIDS WILL BE GOING TO SCHOOL AT ANOTHER TIME. FOR ANOTHER FAMILY, IF THEY DID GO OVER, LIKE HOW MUCH INTERNET ACCESS THEY HAVE, THEY WOULD HAVE TO PAY ANYWHERE BETWEEN 400 dollars. THIS WOMAN THAT I SPOKE TO, SHE KIND OF MENTIONED THAT SHE WAS RATIONING HER INTERNET. SO IT REALLY IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BUT IT IS A REALITY FOR MANY FAMILIES FOR SEVERAL PARTS OF ONTARIO.

Jeyan says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT BROADBAND IN SOUTHEASTERN ONTARIO. SHELDON, CAN WE BRING UP THIS MAP? ASHLEY, TELL US WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT.

A map of Eastern Ontario pops up with the title "Ontario regional network demand 1 GBPS." The map shows the areas with no demand in white, and coloured bins in shades of blue to pink for areas with increased demand.

Ashley says THIS IS A MAP FROM THE EASTERN ONTARIO REGIONAL NETWORK AND IT'S MAPPING OUT DEMAND IN THE REGION. THERE ARE A FEW PINK DOTS HERE AND THAT SHOWS THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN 20 HOUSEHOLD EQUIVALENTS BETWEEN ONE SQUARE KILOMETRE. BLUE... ACTUALLY, NO, GREEN SHOWS THERE ARE ANYWHERE BETWEEN TWO AND 20 HOUSEHOLD EQUIVALENTS. AND BLUE IS ONE. WHITE IS WHERE THERE'S NO DEMAND. WHAT THIS MAP DOESN'T SHOW IS ABOUT 46 percent OF HOUSEHOLDS IN THE REGION HAVE ACCESS TO 50-10 MEGABITS PER SECOND, WHICH IS THE MINIMUM REQUIRED BY THE CRTC. AND IF YOU ADD URBAN COMMUNITIES IN THE REGION, IT'S ABOUT [indiscernible] PERCENT. IT SHOWS THERE ARE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THE MINIMUM REQUIRED SPEED.

Jeyan says LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT. WHAT EXACTLY MAKES UP A FUNCTIONING BROADBAND CONNECTION?

The caption changes to "What it takes to get online."

Ashley says SO MY REPORTING I KIND OF [indiscernible] UPLOAD SPEED, DOWN LOAD SPEED. UPLOAD AS THE SAME SUGGESTS IS HOW QUICKLY YOU CAN GET INFORMATION FROM YOUR SERVER OR ROUTER TO AN EXTERNAL ONE. DOWNLOAD SPEED IS REALLY THE OPPOSITE, HOW QUICKLY YOU CAN GET INFORMATION DOWNLOADED. A SOURCE THAT I SPOKE TO IN MY STORY DESCRIBED LATENCY AS TRAFFIC. IF THERE ARE A LOT OF CARS ON THE ROAD IT IS HARDER FOR YOU TO TRAVEL QUICKLY. IF THERE ARE FEWER CARS ON THE ROAD, IT'S EASIER FOR YOU TO MOVE. THINGS LIKE UPLOAD, DOWNLOAD, AND LATENCY AFFECT THINGS LIKE VIDEO CONFERENCE. IF YOU DO WANT TO GO ON ZOOM AND WANT YOUR AUDIO AND VIDEO ON AT THE SAME TIME, THOSE ARE THINGS YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT.

Jeyan says IT SOUNDS LIKE A DUMB QUESTION, BUT WHY IS THIS PROBLEM SO COMPLEX? WHY ISN'T IT EASIER TO PUT UP SOME TOWERS?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Ashley says IT'S A COMPLEX QUESTION THAT I THINK A LOT OF SMART PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT. WHAT I DID GATHER IS IT'S REALLY EXPENSIVE. SOMEONE KIND OF MENTIONED THAT ET GOING BROADBAND ACCESS ACROSS THE PROVINCE AND REALLY ACROSS THE COUNTRY WOULD REALLY BE A MULTI-LEVEL PARTNERSHIP AND IT WILL INVOLVE EVERYTHING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, SMALLER PRIVATE PARTNERS AS WELL. AND URN FOR ONE EXAMPLE ESTIMATED IT TO COST OVER A BILLION DOLLARS TO GET ONE GIGABIT PER SECOND TO PARTS OF EASTERN ONTARIO. THE PROVINCE HAS PUT FORTH A FIVE-YEAR INVESTMENT OF HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND THEN THERE'S THE UNIVERSAL BROADBAND, WHICH IS AT 1.7 BILLION NOW. IT'S REALLY EXPENSIVE AND IT JUST DOES REQUIRE A LOT OF PEOPLE TO COME TOGETHER TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Jeyan says ONE THING THAT WE'VE SEEN WITH THIS PANDEMIC IS SOME CALL IT AN EXODUS, SOME ARE CALLING IT A MOVEMENT OUT OF THE BIG CITY INTO THESE RURAL COMMUNITIES. WHAT IS HAVING A GOOD INTERNET CONNECTION DO AND HAVE FOR THESE MUNICIPALITIES WHEN WE TALK ABOUT AN ECONOMIC EFFECT OR IMPACT?

The caption changes to "Pandemic needs."

Ashley says I THINK THAT DID COME UP WHEN I WAS TALKING TO ONE OF THE COUNCILLORS AT. BEFORE THEY MAKE THAT DECISION INTERNET IS SOMETHING THEY'RE TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION. BEFORE PEOPLE MOVED INTO COMMUNITIES, THEY WOULD SAY I WONDER WHAT THE SCHOOLS ARE LIKE HERE. NOW PEOPLE ARE DOING THAT IN ADDITION TO SCHOOLS AND OTHER THINGS, THEY'RE SAYING I WONDER WHAT THE CONNECTIVITY IS LIKE HERE. THIS DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO THE STORY BUT I SPOKE TO SOMEONE FROM THE ONTARIO COTTAGERS ASSOCIATION WHICH REPRESENTS COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS ACROSS THE PROVINCE, HUNDREDS OF MUNICIPALITIES ACROSS THE PROVINCE, AND THEY ESTIMATED THAT THESE WATERFRONT COMMUNITIES OR COTTAGES IN RURAL PARTS OF ONTARIO BRING IN ABOUT 75 BILLION dollars IN PROPERTY TAXES. THINKING ABOUT THAT NUMBER BEING AT STAKE BECAUSE OF INTERNET CONNECTIVITY IS PRETTY SIGNIFICANT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says VERY BIG NUMBER. ASHLEY OKWUOSA, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THIS SHOW TODAY. THAT'S ASHLEY OKWUOSA, ASSISTANT EDITOR AT TVO.org. THANK YOU AGAIN.

Ashley says THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: Rationing the Internet in Eastern Ontario