Tech Times: Rogers Expands Low-Cost Internet Program For Low-Income Families In Canada

Rogers' cable Internet subscribers in Canada below the low-income belt can now avail fast Internet connections at a reasonable price.

"Connected for Success," the program's name, was previously started back in 2013 in the Toronto Community Housing district and had received "tremendous" success during its initial stages, according to Chief Customer Officer of Rogers Communications, Deepak Khandelwal. He believes that the Internet isn't just a "nice to have" but a necessity in the current era wherein kids would connect to the Internet after school or seniors catch up with peers through the Web among other services they can access, like banking and government services. 

For people living in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador, the discounted internet subscription will offer download speeds of up to 10 Mbps and uploading rates at 1 Mbps for $9.99 per month. About 533 non-profit housing agencies will be part of the program which will launch in Ottawa together with Rogers partners' Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation and two others. The launch will include an estimated 1,100 residents in rental houses owned by the three non-profit housing groups.

Not many are thrilled, however, as advocacy groups criticize the slow speed at which Internet companies provide Internet services for the entire country, especially those under the low-income measure (LIM).
Ipsos-Reid had previously reported that 91 percent of the country's population have access to the Internet but the statistics decline to 70 percent for families that have an annual income below $25,000. Statistics Canada's figures back in 2013 concluded that Canadian residents fall under the (LIM) if an individual's annual income is $20,933 and $41,866 for families consisting of four members, after taxes.
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a low-income advocacy group, has been said to be lobbying the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to oblige "Internet providers to provide high speed, affordable internet service to anyone living in poverty." Blaine Cameron, a member of ACORN, echoes Khandelwal by stating that the "[Internet] is not a luxury, but a necessity. [People] are accessing government services, [and] job searching."
Khandelwal, in response, said that previous tests during the program's launch in Toronto had determined that the offered speed was enough for most people's needs, such as checking emails or looking for jobs. Cameron disagrees, however, and believes that Rogers "can do more." He also adds that "The big three [telecommunications] companies making huge profits... they can afford to look out for the vulnerable in society."
An ACORN survey with 400 respondents conducted last year discovered that 84 percent of their members found internet services to be too pricey. This would cause about 59 percent of these respondents to cut on other basic necessities, like "food, recreation, and rent," to afford an Internet subscription.
Article by Santiago Tiongco for Tech Times

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