One of the CBC reporters said something to me yesterday that was rather an epiphany. I said to him, “I want internet access to be able to work. It’s not like I’m asking to do Netflix marathons.”
And do you know what he replied?
“This is the 21st century and we’re in a developed country. Getting on Netflix shouldn’t be an issue.”
He made me realise that I’ve been mad at the wrong people, like Google and Apple, for creating services that don’t take into consideration that not everyone on the planet has super duper high speed internet with unlimited bandwidth. They’re not the problem. The problem is ISPs. And in Canada, that means the problem is the government because it has given telecom monopolies all the power to set rates and service levels.
Not only does the Canadian government have a measure of disdain for this vital resource that the United Nations declared in 2011 as being as basic a human right as access for fresh water, but so do the people who decide who can and who can’t get the service. Whenever I’ve called SaskTel, they have been flummoxed by why I could possibly need internet that badly, wondering what the hell I do with all that bandwidth every month. It’s none of their business! I have an ‘unlimited’ data plan and I pay my bill each month. What I do with the service, as long as it’s not illegal, isn’t their concern and should have no impact on their decision to give me service or not.
It’s interesting that even after 20 years of internet coming into our collective consciousness, it is still regarded as a frivolous thing by so many people. Whine about no access to television? That is a big deal. Whine about no access to internet? You’re an addict who needs to get a life.
It’s funny that things people consider to be necessities. I’ve lived long periods of my adult life without running water and electricity beyond what I could generate for myself and I have never had television. People think I’m nuts to live without those things. But I get by fine without them.
The only thing I need to have a quality of life, I have been denied at every step. When I had my house in Quebec, it was the exact same bullshit as here. I briefly had good hard wired internet in a rental house before going RVing, as well as during my Campbell River and Lethbridge winters and many other stops along the road (thank you, lovely hosts!), but otherwise I’ve struggled with mobile bandwidth being cost prohibitive. Internet access has been, and remains, as much a struggle for me as it is for folks in Nepal.
It feels like I’m getting close to the future the internet promised me so many years ago. Finally, finally, I have an unlimited data plan at a rate that is fair at this time and in this place. Right now, in this country, my plan is the pot of gold at the end of the telecommunications cable. Yes, it slows to molasses speed after I use up 10GB, something I will address in a future fight, but for the first time ever I’m not worried about how much bandwidth I use and I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it!
SaskTel pissed off the wrong customer. They thought that by ignoring me, they’d get rid of me. How very wrong they were. I’m savvy about the issue, understand the technology, know my way around government red tape, and am used to speaking publicly. I am also tired of dealing with this crap. Now that I’m living somewhere I’ve decided to grow roots, I will not back down until I get satisfaction.
I still believe in the good things I’ve said about SaskTel in terms of how much they’ve improved telecom in Saskatchewan in just a few years. But they have dropped the ball here with their stubbornness to rectify an obvious mistake and by treating me like I’m an idiot. I don’t live in the middle of a desert island in the high arctic, so stop telling me that I should go with satellite service.
I want 21st century internet speeds! I want to be able to sync my devices, do security updates, and send emails without any drama!
And being able to stream Netflix would be nice, too, thank you very much!