Bridging the digital divide in B.C.

Since 2002, more than 47 new communities in B.C. have been wired for broadband Internet, and more than 65 communities will be added this year. By 2007, high-speed Internet should be available everywhere in B.C.

Rural communities have been the real losers in the high-speed Internet revolution in Canada, as the limited customer base in many communities made it uneconomical for Internet service providers to pay for the installation of broadband infrastructure.

However, thanks to satellite broadband services, lower installation costs and government subsidies, rural Canada and B.C. are catching up to the cities.

B.C. is now the most connected province in Canada with more than 6 out of 10 of its citizens having Internet access. At the end of 2003 more than 89 per cent of British Columbians were in communities that had high-speed broadband services, according to the Premier’s Technology Council.

That’s hardly a surprising figure given that the vast majority of B.C. residents live in the Lower Mainland, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Okanagan regions, but it boosts the province’s profile as a high-tech centre.

The Premier’s Technology Council was created with the goal of making B.C. one of the top-10 technology centres in the world, in the same league as Seattle and Silicon Valley.

In their sixth progress report, released last week, the PTC made 14 new general recommendations to help elevate B.C.’s status as a world technology centre. Most of these recommendations revolve around services that rural communities require in terms of e-learning and e-health, helping people in the remotest locations of the province derive some benefit from a faster connection with the Web.

The e-learning component includes everything from basic high school and university courses to high-tech programs – essentially building a workforce for B.C.’s growing tech sector. The e-health component is about making remote communities more liveable by providing doctors with the tools to provide the same standard of care as their counterparts in the city. In other words, even rural communities will be able to participate in high technology through broadband Internet, while retaining and luring talent through the B.C. lifestyle.

It’s an ambitious goal, but one that will seem a lot more realistic once B.C. becomes the first province to be 100 per cent wired for broadband Internet.

German teenager behind most viruses

Sven Jaschan is in deep, deep trouble. In the first half of 2004 the 18-year-old German unleashed more than 50 per cent of the viruses that plagued the Web, causing billions of dollars worth of damage and lost productivity. And if you count all the variations and versions replicated from his original worms, Netsky and Sasser, Jaschan is actually responsible for 70 per cent of all viruses.


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