CBC rolls out low bandwidth site in aim to make news more accessible

·2 min read
Hundreds of thousands of people in Canada lack basic, high-speed access. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)
Hundreds of thousands of people in Canada lack basic, high-speed access. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)

CBC has rolled out a low-bandwidth version of its website aimed at making its news content more accessible to those using dial up — and those in remote communities, like the North.

For some, dial up means waiting 30 seconds per page to download, which can lead to long wait times to load multiple pages. It can also make pages with video and audio streaming inaccessible.

Cole Boudreau, a data scientist with CBC Digital, says the low bandwidth, text-only site means loading CBC pages will be faster.

"It's about making sure that the news is accessible to all users," Boudreau said.

"Before these kinds of services, users were often going to kind of external sites in order to get a lower bandwidth version of CBC content.

Here's an example of the CBC Lite version of our website. Simple. Just the news.
Here's an example of the CBC Lite version of our website. Simple. Just the news. (CBC)

He says that includes people getting it through Facebook or other social media platforms.

"Facebook — we don't know if the news will always be available there," Boudreau said.

"I think it's a much better experience if users can read within the platform that has created the content."

Rural areas lack basic broadband

Boudreau says the idea of CBC Lite came up in December 2019 when a group looked at whether it was needed.

According to figures from the CRTC, about 46 per cent of households in rural Canada have access to basic broadband (defined by the CRTC as 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload), compared to 87 per cent per cent in urban areas.

The low bandwidth site is meant to bring text-based content to users in a low data usage format.

He says Monday was the official public launch of the site and as of 2 p.m. MT, it had about 425 unique visitors.

CBC Lite offers trending and standard CBC section content in a text-only format, and lets people see more stories though embedded links.

The pages are smaller and easier to use too.

"Hopefully this gives them an opportunity to be able to get [the news] in the smallest package possible and streamline the availability of news," Boudreau said.

You can access CBC Lite at www.cbc.ca\lite