Internet Usage Stats

Since Scott was concerned about the Internet usage data, I thought I would repeat it again. I have shown a variation of this chart before. Don’t rub your eyes, you are reading this chart right. It’s Statistics Canada data. New Brunswick was fourth in Canada among the provinces for Household Internet usage in 1997 (the year Frank left, coincidentally) and now we are dead last. In 1997, we were less than one percentage point behind the national average and now we are nine percentage points behind. We were five percentage points behind BC in 1997 and now we are a whopping 17.3 percentage points behind.

Why is this important? The answer should be obvious. If you recall the mid 1990s, the Internet was going to ‘save’ places like New Brunswick. People could work ‘anywhere’. Rural communities were going to flourish. Telework would abound. Eureka, they said.

Further, New Brunswick in the mid 1990s was called the ‘Living Lab’ for telecommunications innovation. It was the first province to have a Minister in charge of the Information Highway.

Now, look how far we have come.

And don’t think you will hear or read about this in the media. I have never seen these figures on the pages of a New Brunswick newspaper. Apparently, this little stat doesn’t interest the folks in charge.

But, you will read this stuff here as I do consider it important.

And for those of you that are trivia buffs, I’ll ask you a quick history question. What was the goal of the eNB initiative launched with great fanfare by Premier Lord almost six years ago?

Sigh.

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0 Responses to Internet Usage Stats

  1. vivenewbrunswick says:

    Part of the problem is that so much of NB is rural with only dialup. Unfortunately, now there’s Aliant instead of NBTel, which really pushed internet infrastructure. It was fairly new then, and that gave NB a lot of publicity. Now it’s old hat.

    NB has just gotten weird with the internet, the province is so poor that I think the ‘powers that be’ started looking at how the net was being used to organize and publicize against many government activities that they really got scared. Somebody like Irving certainly isn’t going to want to see more people turning to online information sources.

    Couple that with an aging population and you can see why the push ‘died out’. My parents now have high speed internet which they got for my sister, who has since moved out. Now they pay $40 for it and they literally don’t know how to check their email.

    Aliant also recently passed on V over IP, the biggest thing right now in telecommunications, which makes the province seem like even more of a backwater.

    As they get tougher on illegal downloading though, they see a corresponding increase in the number of students ‘tuning out’. I suspect kids are far bigger into their music, podcasts, and phones than the net. Apart from porn, buying junk, and informational sources the net really doesn’t have the meat that speaks to people. If I didn’t do research I probably wouldn’t bother, and am even starting to see the limits of that.

    THat brings us to economic development, which COULD be a focus of education, if both the ‘tools’ were being taught and the facilities made available.

    A rural town could set up a central ebay location (meaning distribution) and products be made available on the web. Specifically things like organic foods, which are huge worldwide. Take for example a common NB weed-mustard seed. Specialized mustards have one of the highest grossing profit margins of any product on the grocery shelf.

    Things like processed fiddleheads and mushrooms are also huge potential industries, fiddleheads are now being cultivated in Ontario. Southern Ontario is literally a testing pot for various products, with all the multicultural areas, people there will try anything.

    That doesn’t even get into the ‘indpendant’ industries, for example ten grand could build a small music studio, while an abandoned barn could be a video studio. The entertainment/documentary markets out there are huge and most don’t involve moving. I know a writer in Cape Breton who writes TV movies for a living which are made in Hollywood although he’s never set foot there. Virtually any television product can be made anywhere. A NB company just signed a deal to make 30 second documenataries that can be downloaded to your phone.

    That’s just off the top of my head, so you can imagine a community of people putting their heads together. Trouble is, as you’ve mentioned, local industry is not real receptive to new participants, and most people don’t even know what kind of markets exist.

    It isn’t exactly Toyota, but could make a huge difference in a dying rural town with few resources. But without decent net access it’s a pretty tough go.