Understanding the Benefits of Broadband: Insights for a Broadband Enabled Ontario
online resourceposted on 21.05.2021, 16:18 by Catherine A. Middleton
This paper reviews the international literature on broadband network developments and assesses the claims of social and economic benefits attributed to broadband initiatives. The paper reveals a current disconnect between societal level goals for increased citizen participation in the knowledge economy, and individual broadband usage that is centred around communication and entertainment activities. The paper points to the crucial, and often overlooked role that communal level broadband initiatives can play in extending services to citizens, and in improving interactions between governments and their constituents. It is noted that the clearest beneficiary of global broadband deployments is the commercial sector. Although broadband technologies are being widely adopted by consumers, and heavily promoted by governments, it is observed that their impacts to date are subtle, rather than spectacular. It is difficult to identify a set of applications or services that would be essential to a broadband enabled Ontario, but given the perceived importance of broadband as an enabler of competitiveness and productivity, it appears that an agenda to increase broadband capacity and services in Ontario is a reasonable one. The paper concludes by presenting a number of issues to be considered in the development of a strategic vision and agenda for ‘broadband enabling’ the Ontario economy.