We need more data

Statistics Canada has released its latest edition of the “Canadian Internet Use Survey”, providing data from 2018. I wrote about its last report, released in 2013 with data from 2012.

Some interesting data emerged by examining Tables 22-10-0081-01 and 22-10-0113-01 together.

2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey
Household Income Quartile Has Home Internet Access Internet Users
Accesses Internet (Any location) Accesses Internet (At home)
Lowest 80.9 % 97.1 % 90.7 %
Second 95.1 % 97.9 % 94.0 %
Third 98.9 % 99.0 % 95.4 %
Highest 99.6 % 99.1 % 95.5 %
Total Canada 93.6 % 98.3 % 94.1 %

I have asked Statistics Canada to clarify some of the anomalies that appear.

It is worthwhile noting that 80.9% of households in the lowest income quartile now have a home internet connection. At the time of the last Internet Use Survey six years ago, there was an internet connection in only 58% of those homes. This 40% increase is a testament, in part, to the focus of an industry led initiative, Connecting Families, to make affordable connected computers available to low income households. It also indicates that more households are coming online, even those in the lowest income quartile.

What are the factors that are standing in the way of universal adoption or internet services?

As recently as last week, I have written about the need to do more research to help us build a better understanding of digital economy issues:

I have often written about the need to understand all of the factors that have inhibited universal adoption of broadband and mobile services, such as in “Understanding the digital divide”. In “Do we know what we don’t know?”, I asked, “Is Canada doing enough research to explore the nature of its digital divide?”

The price of connectivity is just one of the elements. How can we find solutions for a problem that we may not fully understand?

It should be embarrassing to Canada’s policy makers that it has been 6 years since the last Internet Use Survey. How is Canada supposed to be engaged in evidence-based policy making when there is so little information being gathered about who is online, how Canadians are using the internet and perhaps most importantly, who isn’t online yet and why not?

We need more data. We need to do better.

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