All gassed up and ready to go! You've finally cleared a day away from the office. You've picked out some landmarks to visit, some friends to pop in on and you'll even be able keep tabs on work while on the go ... or will you?
Soon enough you'll discover Canada's great digital divide - a huge variation in broadband access in Canada that will limit your Internet access during your trip, and could also be limiting your user's access to your website right now. It's a trip that will highlight the importance of website optimization and why file size still matters.
Outside the city
Your first stop is to a couple of old friends who live an hour or so outside the city. You pull out your laptop to check in with the office, but wow is it slow. Why? Because 15% of rural Canadians don't have access to broadband and have to rely on dial up Internet, according to a CRTC Communications Monitoring Report.
A report from the School of Environmental Design & Rural Development at the University of Guelph shows that those in rural areas who do have access to broadband, pay an astonishing $33.33 per megabit, while city dwellers pay an average of $3.33 per megabit of bandwidth.
The Library Hotspot
Just passing through a small city and you drop by a library hot spot to check your email. But it's just as slow as in the country? That's because 23% of libraries have broadband at or below 1.5 mbps - 7% are below 1.5 mbps, according to the Information Policy & Access Center. When you then split that up between all the employees and visitors at the library, it comes to a crawl. That's why 42% of libraries report their bandwidth connection does not meet their patrons’ needs.
And who is using the library for Internet these days? The Ontario Library Association (OLA) reports that public libraries and other community agencies are the sole broadband point for 25% of Canadians. According to the OLA, in 2012 Community Access Programs in libraries and community centres provided Internet access, training and support to more than 34,000 small businesses, farmers and non-profits.
Home at Last
We don't have to worry about bandwidth in the average suburban household, right? Wrong. Our usage habits are changing, and we're using our bandwidth to download multiple streams of content all at the same time. Many of us are watching TV, scanning social media and even making phone calls over the same Internet connection at the same time. Even our appliances are starting to come Internet enabled. Check out our article How We Consume Media is Changing to read more about this fascinating and important trend.
Don't think it’s time to give up optimization of download times on your digital projects. Keep your site quick to download and you could improve loyalty among those Canadians that your competitors may be overlooking.