Internet in Canada

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Canada ranks as the 21st country in the world for Internet usage with 32.4 million users as of 2014. This is equivalent to 92.9% of the population.[1]

Web use[edit]

According to the CIRA 2013 Factbook, Canadians spend more time online than anyone else in the world—an average of 45 hours a month. They also watch more online video, with an average of 300 views per month in 2011.[2]

The most popular websites in Canada are major international sites such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube.[3]

The most popular native Canadian websites are the major Canadian news media companies, which maintain an extensive web presence. According to a February 2008 report by comScore, the most popular Canadian sites are Quebecor Media, principally, followed closely by CTVglobemedia which includes and[4]

According to Harvard researchers, Canada has some of the lowest internet standards among OECD countries, as a result of high costs and slow internet speeds.[5]

File sharing[edit]

Canada has the largest number of file sharers per capita in the world.[6]

In general, the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted material, whether for profit or for personal use, is illegal under Canada's Copyright Act.[7] However, certain exemptions are made for fair dealing copying of small portions of copyrighted works, for activities such as private study, criticism, and news reporting. Furthermore, the Act allows that the copying of sound recordings of musical works for the personal use is not copyright infringement.[citation needed] This is supported by a levy on blank recording media[citation needed], which is distributed to record labels and musicians, although not evenly. While the unauthorized downloading or uploading of complete copyrighted works such as books, movies, or software is illegal under the Act, the situation regarding music files is more complex.

Fibre optic networks[edit]

Rogers FCI Broadband fiber optic buried in Ontario.

Fibre cabling was already deployed by Bell Canada in Ontario and Quebec using FTTN deployment (Where an optic cable is wired to the neighborhood and then connected to the home via copper cable). On 4 February 2010, Bell Canada announced the launch of Fibe 25 services and Bell's plan to create FTTH or Fibre to the home services, offering speeds of at least 100 megabit/s.[8]

Rogers Business Solutions (RBS), a division of Rogers Communications, provides premium Internet, connectivity, voice, data center and cloud services to a wide range of enterprise, government and wholesale customers. RBS has 9,000 customers, serving hundreds of Fortune 500 businesses and numerous government agencies across Canada. Rogers invested over a billion dollars to acquire the next generation networks and infrastructure of Atria, Blink, Mountain Cable and BLACKIRON DATA. The Blink, Atria and Mountain Cable acquisitions expanded RBS' network reach by adding thousands of on-net buildings and fibre routes kilometers. Rogers owns and operates a nationwide fibre network with over 25,000 km of fibre routes including connectivity to key network access points in the US and overseas.[9]

Bell Aliant, starting in 2009, announced that it would be deploying Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) service in New Brunswick, starting in Fredericton and Saint John, under the trade name FibreOP. It has since been deployed in several other cities and towns throughout Atlantic Canada,[10] offering speeds ranging from 50Mbit/s down & 10Mbit/s up, to 940Mbit/s down & 100Mbit/s up.


The following table summarizes residential broadband offerings in Canada. No provider is nationwide and the chart does not include abilities of customer equipment or the speeds after peer-to-peer traffic shaping. In particular, some products are 'up to' the speed quoted and may not deliver that speed in all areas. Since plans may change at any time, this list is not comprehensive. An up-to-date listing of ISPs and their plans can be found on Canadian ISP.

Consumer Internet Plans Available in Canada
Lowest Tier Highest Tier
Internet Service Provider Type Download (Mbit/s) Upload (Mbit/s) Cap (GB) Download (Mbit/s) Upload (Mbit/s) Cap (GB) Region
CIK Telecom[11] Cable/DSL/FTTB 5 1 1000 1000 All of Canada
Switch [12] DSL/Fibre/Wireless 6 1 10 10000 All of Canada
O-NET[13] FTTH 20 20 250 1000 1000 2048 Olds, Alberta
Coextro[14] Fibre/Ethernet 250 250 500 500 Ontario
Lakeland Networks FTTP 1000 1000 1000 1000 Muskoka
Origen Telecom [15] DSL/VDSL 6 0.8 50 10 Quebec - Montreal
Origen Telecom [16] Fiber 5 5 1000 1000 Quebec - Montreal
Dotto One FTTH/FTTB 40 10 1000 1000 Toronto
Acanac Cable/DSL 11 1 60 10 Ontario and Quebec
Brama Telecom DSL 6 0.78 300 50 25 300 Ontario and Quebec
GPNetworks/GPOptix Fiber/Wireless 20 20 100 1000 200 County of Grande Prairie No.1
Brama Telecom DSL 6 0.78 300 50 25 300 Ontario and Quebec
FibreStream[17] Fibre 50 50 500 500 Ontario
Execulink Telecom [18] Cable Internet 5 1 40 100 5 Ontario
Comwave Cable/DSL 6 0.78 50 4 Ontario and Quebec
8COM DSL/Cable 6 1 325 250 15 Western Canada, Eastern Canada
Internet Lightspeed DSL/Cable 6 1 325 250 15 Western Canada
Shaw Communications[19] Cable/FTTN 5 0.5 65 150 15 1024 Western Canada and Ontario
Rogers Hi-Speed Internet Cable/FTTN 30 5 100 1000 50 Eastern Canada
Vidéotron Cable 5 1 15 200 30 250 Quebec
Cogeco Fibre 15 0.6 95 250 20 525 Ontario and Quebec
EastLink[20][21][22][23] Cable/FTTN 50 5 950 10 All Canadian provinces except Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Bell Internet[24] VDSL2 5 1 15 50 10 175 Ontario and Quebec
Bell Internet[24] Fibre 15 15 75 940 100 Ontario and Quebec
Bell Aliant (DSL) DSL 1.5 0.640 7 0.640 Atlantic Canada
Bell Aliant FibreOP FTTH 50 10 940 100 Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario
National Capital Freenet VDSL2 6 0.8 300 50 10 300 National Capital Region
Nexicom[25] VDSL2 6 0.8 25 10 Ontario
Nexicom[26] Cable 6 1.5 60 4 Ontario
Telus[27] Fibre/VDSL2 15 1 200 150 150 1024 Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec
SaskTel[28] ADSL /vdsl 0.25 0.125 N/A 25 2 N/A Saskatchewan
SaskTel infiNET[28] Fibre 2 1 N/A 260 60 N/A Saskatchewan
Start Communications Cable 10 1 100/∞ 60 10 300/∞ Ontario (Rogers Areas)
Start Communications Cable 10 2 100/∞ 50 10 300/∞ Ontario (Cogeco Areas)
Start Communications DSL 6 0.8 100/∞ 50 10 300 Ontario
Manitoba Telecom Services[29] DSL/Fibre 7 (Rural) 0.768 (Rural) N/A 250 30 N/A Manitoba
TekSavvy Cable 5 1 150 200 10 Various
TekSavvy DSL 2 0.64 75 50 10 Various
VMedia Cable 30 5 120 10 Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta
VMedia DSL 6 1 50 10 Ontario and Quebec
Telehop Cable 3 0.25 300 15 1 300 Ontario
Electronic Box DSL 6 0.8 100 25 10 500 Ontario and Quebec
Electronic Box Cable 5 1 50 60 10 500 Ontario and Quebec
Novus Entertainment Fibre 25 10 250 300 300 N/A Vancouver
Velcom VDSL2 6 0.8 100 25 10 N/A Ontario and Quebec
Yak Communications DSL 6 1 50 10 Ontario and Quebec
Yak Communications Cable 5 1 60 10 Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta
DERYtelecom Cable 3 0.8 20 30 5 Quebec

Regional Canadian ISPs peer through a few major Internet exchange points, the most notable of which is the Toronto Internet Exchange. However, these regional networks usually share the same backbones for longer distance connectivity.

The largest DSL provider in Canada is Bell Internet (formerly Bell Sympatico). Bell owns and maintains physical layer connectivity through a combination of optical fibre networks, DSLAM and Customer Premises Equipment. In British Columbia (BC), Alberta (AB), and parts of Quebec (QC), the incumbent telco is Telus, owning the DSLAMs and fibre, providing many of the same services Bell does.

The other major players offering DSL and IPTV services are SaskTel in Saskatchewan and Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) in Manitoba. Download speeds are up to 25 Mbit/s for average users, though recent upgrades now make HDTV and much higher rates possible.[citation needed]

For cable offerings, standard North American DOCSIS based equipment are used. The largest cable internet providers in Canada are Shaw Communications (Western) and Rogers Cable (Eastern) offering internet speeds of up to 1000 Mbit/s.

Usage-based billing (UBB)[edit]

For a broader coverage related to this topic, see Usage-based billing.

Internet bandwidth limits and caps are considered by many to be too restrictive, due to the increasing popularity of online streaming media services such as Netflix, which require large amounts of bandwidth.[30]

The decision to impose bandwidth caps on smaller independent ISPs[31] caused controversy in 2011 when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada's telecommunications regulator, approved a request by Bell Internet to begin, on 1 March 2011, to apply a bandwidth cap on the users of smaller independent ISPs who use Bell's last mile infrastructure. This new billing structure is called "usage-based billing" or UBB.

Bell pushed for a cap as small as 25 gigabytes of transfer per month, plus a $1–2 CAD surcharge for every GB over the limit. The stated intent was to prevent the customers of independent ISPs from congesting Bell's network,[32] because many independent ISPs offer service with unlimited bandwidth, while most major Canadian ISPs do not. The CRTC was criticized for allowing Bell to use anti-competitive practices to favour its own Internet and television offerings.[33] Bell is also under fire for forcing its own pricing structure and business on its wholesalers. Bell admits that more than 10 percent of its subscribers (at the time of said download cap) exceed their limit, resulting in additional billing.[34]

Many savvy Internet users also accuse Bell of falsifying information to the public regarding network congestion. Network congestion is primarily caused by many users accessing the Internet at the same time (after school/work, 5pm–10pm) and not by heavy users alone. Similar criticism was levied when Eastlink Rural Connect applied UBB in July 2015, which many users reported made peak time congestion worse. See Broadband for Rural Nova Scotia initiative for this and related wireless broadband congestion problems.

On 2 February 2011, industry minister Tony Clement and Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on the CRTC to reverse the decision. The next day, the CRTC announced that it would delay its decision by 60 days.[35]

There are some supporters for usage-based-billing (UBB) at lower rates instead of the current $2/GB. One example is TekSavvy, providing "Lite" cable Internet services (6 Mbit/s down, ¼ Mbit/s up) at $30.95/month with 300 GB, equivalent to around 10¢/GB.[36] Rogers Hi-Speed Internet offers Internet access at the same speed for $41.49/month but with only 20 GB, equivalent to around $2.07/GB.[37] The difference of $1.97/GB between the two providers is one key reason why consumer advocates oppose UBB. Some also claim that it costs the incumbents as low as 3¢/GB.[38]

Supporters also suggest that instead of a penalty-based system (heavy users pay more), a credit-based system (light users be credited back monthly) would be much more consumer friendly and fair.

Access to fibre[edit]

In July 2015, a CRTC decision required Bell, Telus and other major service providers with FTTP networks to open their unlit dark fibre to alternative service providers. This was sharply opposed by Bell in particular, which took the unusual step of trying to reverse it with an Order in Council.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  2. ^ "CIRA Factbook 2013". Canadian Internet Registration Authority. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Top Sites in Canada Retrieved 21 April 2013
  4. ^ comScore. Top Canadian Websites - 2008 Retrieved 21 Apr 2013
  5. ^ Nowak, Peter (2010). "Canadian internet slow, expensive: Harvard". CBC News. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Digital Broadband Content" (PDF). OECD. 13 December 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  7. ^ "Copyright Act of Canada". Department of Justice: Canada. 5 November 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2007. 
  8. ^ "Bell high speed fibre rollouts enable new Internet and TV services". BCE. 4 February 2010. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "CIK Telecom -Top Internet Service Provider in Canada.". Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "High Speed Dsl Internet Connection Plan For Businesses". Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Fiber Optic Internet Connection Plan For Businesses". Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Residential Cable Internet Plans". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "Shaw Internet Plans". Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  20. ^ "Eastlink Basic Internet". Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  21. ^ "EastLink Internet Services". Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  22. ^ "EastLink 40 Internet". Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "EastLink 100 Internet". Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "Bell Internet Access". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  25. ^ "Nexicom ADSL tier comparison chart". Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "Nexicom cable tier comparison chart". Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "TELUS Internet Plans". Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  28. ^ a b "SaskTel High Speed Internet comparison chart". Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  29. ^ "MTS High Speed Internet Plans". Retrieved 26 February 2011. 
  30. ^ Lasar, Matthew. "200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet". Ars Technica. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "CRTC decision 2011–44 on usage-based billing (UBB)". Toronto Free-Net. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  32. ^ "CRTC decision 2011–44 on usage-based billing (UBB)". Toronto Free-Net. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  33. ^ Marlow, Iain (29 October 2010). "CRTC ruling handcuffs competitive market: TekSavvy". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  34. ^ Geist, Michael (6 February 2011). "Geist: The real reason we pay so much for Internet". The Star. Toronto. 
  35. ^ "CRTC to review usage-based billing decision". CBC. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  36. ^ "Affordable Internet". TekSavvy. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  37. ^ Rogers Communications, (2013), Compare Packages, retrieved 30 December 2012
  38. ^ Thompson, Hugh (1 February 2011). "What is a fair price for Internet service?". Globe and Mail. Toronto. 
  39. ^

External links[edit]

  • DSL Reports – Extensive site on broadband with user reports from around the USA and Canada
  • Canadian Broadband Forum – Site on broadband in Canada with user reviews from Canada