Common sense and telephones

It’s kind of funny but sooner or later things that seem to make sense to a few people make no sense to others.

Take the telephone. When NBTel started to make serious inroads into offering home telephone services 70 years ago, the telephone came with the service. You ordered the service and you got the appliance (i.e. the telephone). Back then, nobody would have ever run a wire up to your house and then walked away. The telephone was the service – not the line on which the signal ran.

Now fast forward to the mid 1990s. The Internet was the new telephone. We were told that having the Internet would be critical to a good quality of life and economic success in the future.

Yet nobody thought to combine the signal (line) with the appliance (the computer). I was involved in an effort to get government to find ways to encourage folks to buy computers and the Internet in the mid 1990s. We were going to make NB a hotbed of technology – the ‘living lab’ for new applications.

But very few people had computers and we were 7th in Canada (1998) for households connected to the Internet.

Now I see that Aliant, 10 years later, is now offering a monthly service that combines the cost of high speed Internet with a computer.

I hope this helps. New Brunswick is now dead last among the 10 provinces for the number of households connected to the Internet.

eNB, the PC government’s technology initiative was supposed to ‘use technology to benefit all New Brunswickers. Well, we have dropped from 7th to 10th in the number of households connected to the Internet since 1999. Something is not working.

The government should have an interest in getting people connected and using the Internet. Something like 80% of all new jobs created (not including the retail and wholesale sectors) require a knowledge of the computer and New Brunswickers are rapidly falling behind in this vital area.

I realize this was a bit of a ramble so let me sum up:
1. The computer in 2005 is the telephone in 1950 – everyone needs one.
2. New Brunswick is falling behind – rapidly – in the usage of the Internet.
3. The government doesn’t seem to care very much.
4. This is a big problem.
5. Kudos to Aliant. Their attempt to exploit a profit and market share situation may provide a side public benefit.

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