Low-income B.C. group calls for $10-per-month Internet 0
Anti-poverty activists were set to picket the Telus office in Burnaby Thursday to protest what they call unaffordable Internet rates, suggesting telecom companies duplicate a Toronto project to offer $10-per-month service for the disadvantaged.
B.C. Acorn spokesman Scott Nunn said Wednesday most high-speed Internet access rates are in the range of $40 to $70 monthly and that amount is far above what low-income residents can pay for life essentials such as job searches and connecting with the outside world.
The housing advocacy group surveyed 284 of its members across Canada — about 20% of them in B.C. — and found one in three people say they’re paying $100 more on their cell and Internet contracts each month than they’d expect, and that 22.7% of its members had their service cut from non-payment.
Nunn said it’s not unreasonable to expect reduced rates for the poor. According to numbers the group compiled from Statistics Canada, about half of those earning $30,000 or less don’t have Internet at home.
Additionally, Rogers announced in June a project in Toronto targeted at students and low-income residents with Internet plans for $9.99 monthly. At the time, Rogers had also urged its competitors and partners to do the same.
Telus spokeswoman Liz Sauve said her company has been discussing similar ideas. She said Telus has donated millions since 2005 to support the digital literacy of at-risk youth.
Bell spokesman Jason Laszlo said its charity focus is on mental health through its Bell Let’s Talk program, and that it already provides a range of competitively priced services.
“More and more government services are getting accessed online, (being) explained online, job searches and the like. Having to go to the library one hour a day isn’t really sufficient,” Nunn said.
“We pay our taxes into government services, but as states cut back and cut back (putting services online), you can’t really access those services.”
The group is also calling for the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission to implement rules requiring telecom companies provide low-income Internet rates.