Next is now… more than ever

Rogers newest video, “Next is Now … More than Ever” offers a fast paced and often entertaining look at statistics that speak to how much Canadians value the Internet, smart appliances, the multi-screen experience with TVs and tablets, smartphone usage, digital wallets, and the resultant impact on health, government, education, and shopping.

A week ago, in its Rogers Innovation Report, we saw a preview of some of the data behind this video. Be sure to watch it.

Some of the factoids have important market implications. Many of these trends will be explored in depth in various sessions at The Canadian Telecom Summit from June 4-6.

Think about what it means that “54% now watch movies and TV on computers and the majority of tablet owners watch TV and tablets… at the same time.” On June 5, our multi-screen panel will look at this and more with speakers Phil Hartling from Rogers, Paul Brannen from Samsung, Chris Hodgson from Google and Gary Schwartz from Impact Mobile and moderator Mike Abramsky.

Almost exactly halfway through the video, there is a snippet that struck me as most important for Canada’s national digital strategy: “For the first time in history, teens now do homework online as much as offline“.

I paused the video on that frame.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have been troubled by our collective failure to get computers into the homes of low income Canadians, especially households with school aged children.

As a country, we now have broadband service in nearly every home that has a computer; thanks to government initiatives and private sector leadership, we have access to a broadband service in even the most remote parts of the country. Yet half of all households in the lowest income quintile don’t have a computer, and therefore have no need for a broadband connection.

We need One Million Computers to bridge the digital divide. We need a Canadian carrier to step up to offer a program to connect low income households, similar to a program that has been launched in the US. The US has demonstrated that the government doesn’t need to throw money at this; but we need leadership.

Perhaps the Industry Minister will add such a program to the long delayed national digital strategy.

Perhaps the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development can lead with this under training and social services initiatives.

Perhaps the CRTC can explore a program for low income households with children when reviewing public benefits for broadcasting.

Or maybe we’ll find one of the industry participants to take it on themselves because it is the right thing to do – and it may even turn out to be profitable.

As the video shows, there are 20,000 educational apps that some kids can’t access as easily as others; three times more learning apps than colleges and universities in North America. It bothers me that there are kids in our city schools who don’t have access to these technologies. Kids who can’t benefit from these same opportunities that most Canadian households enjoy.

The video demonstrates the vision of continued growth, evolution and development for communications services and information technology providers. More bits, flying faster, with even greater reliance on new technologies and integrated services for work, school, shopping and play time.

As the Rogers video shows, next is now, more than ever. How can we help “next” to come now for all Canadians?

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