The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Quel surprise. The Ottawa Citizen has come out strongly against a new City of Ottawa plan to make broadband access available to every household within five years. Recall the hue and cry the Citizen and the National Post raised over a similar national plan last year. The Ottawa situation is just a microcosm of what transpired nationally. It led to Brian Tobin’s resignation from politics, and threatens to happen again if broadband providers and content partners don’t take action now. In a November 28 editorial, Citizen scribes wrote that the cost of providing high-speed access to everyone simply isn’t worth the cost, and they’d be right if they were at all on the same page as government officials. The problem, of course, is that they’re talking through their hats. Ottawa is a freshly amalgamated city of 750,000 people that encompasses a wide range of urban, suburban and rural areas. It is true that the city already leads the country in Internet use with 62.5 per cent of households connected (Toronto has 57.9 and Montreal 46.6). As far as arguing against a strategy to bolster broadband access, however, the numbers don’t break down how many of those households have high-speed, or reflect the reality of a digital divide between rural and urban (and even new suburban) areas. It is irresponsible of the Citizen to ignore that divide or to minimize the difference between always-on broadband and dial-up access. Ensuring everyone in Ottawa has access to broadband is not the same as providing everyone a connection, or paying DSL or cable Internet bills for every citizen in neighbourhoods such as Centretown or Hintonburg. A strategy that puts the needs of rural users on par with those of urban dwellers is fair and within the mandate of councillors to develop. Broadband providers would do well to lobby for the adoption of the broadband strategy – working at every step to suggest ways they can help city staff in Ottawa and elsewhere accomplish their goal of universal access. The rest of Canada will be watching.