Internet access: a hard drug

Were you a victim the widespread failure of Rogers in this week? How scared was you? How many times have you turned your phone off and on again hoping to see the four small bars that make up the new reading of our oxygen saturation?

I can tell you that this enforced collective disconnect showed me once again how dependent I am on my phone. The duration of this blackout was long enough for me to analyze my addiction and understand its intricacies.

First of all, the withdrawal symptoms were very little related to my inability to take or make good old phone calls and more to my inability to access information quickly or even immediately. As if the phone call were a remnant of the past, a habit of another generation. I also curse every call that could have been a text and every message in my voicemail that could have been an email.

It’s not the forbidden desire to belong and be available that troubles me. The object of my frustration was therefore something else.

I wasn’t expecting any special news and I knew I wouldn’t be getting urgent emails. Nothing of the same. But knowing that I might miss some media news or announcements (e.g. on social media) made me feel stressed out of proportion to the context. Especially since I had promised myself I would be on vacation and had sworn to those around me that I would take the opportunity to “switch off”.

Our relationship to technology, to what are now extensions of our arms and head, is therefore more complex and profound than we care to admit. Access to reliable and comprehensive networks is no longer a luxury but a non-negotiable requirement of consumers who always need a dose of connectivity. All the more so when we are severely penalized for poor selection of suppliers, for example in comparison to Europe or Asia.

Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne rightly wants to ensure that such mishaps do not happen again, since they also hamper trade. But isn’t it time to expand the topic and make it easier for new players to enter the market? It seems to me that a little competition in telecoms wouldn’t hurt anyone.

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