As of late March 2020 most Canadian provinces and cities have closed schools, restricted the movement of people, and forced non-essential worksites to shut down. Millions of people now rely on the Internet to work, study, buy medicine and stay connected, but for many people in low income and rural communities that lack affordable high speed Internet access, that is simply not a viable option.
People that have reasonable service now are also at risk. With hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, it’s likely many will not be able to pay their utilities and Internet bills in the coming weeks and months. But people who are navigating the economic downturn will still need to use the Internet to access health information and educational and training opportunities - let alone to stay connected with their community.
While this is a systemic issue that will require government intervention and funding, ISPs can and should step up immediately to do their part and ensure anyone who can access their networks is able to do so. We are asking all companies to end data caps, commit to not disconnect people due to financial difficulties, open up their existing WiFi hotspots, and consult their local municipal authorities to identify useful and appropriate new publicly available WiFi locations they could provide. By doing so they will help to ensure more people have Internet access during the crisis.
Some companies have already stepped up, while we are waiting for others to take further action. You can see what different ISPs have done to date in the charts below. Make sure you send a tweet to the ISPs in your region, calling on them to act now!