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Internet service providers largely “meet or exceed” advertised speeds in Canada: CRTC

Canadians, it turns out, are getting pretty much what they pay for from their Internet providers. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released results of a first-ever national broadband study it commissioned last spring. The results confirm that Internet service providers (ISPs) “largely meet or exceed” their advertised download and upload speeds. The study included all the major service providers in Canada, except Sasktel. Participating ISPs were Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Rogers, Cogeco, Eastlink, MTS, Northwestel, Shaw, TELUS and Vidéotron.

More than 3,000 volunteer households were supplied with measurement devices known as Whiteboxes, which collected broadband performance data over a period of one month, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The data reported on included the technology used—DSL (digital subscriber line), Cable/HFC (hybrid fibre coaxial) and FTTH (fibre to the home), as well as the ISP and the “speed bucket” or advertised access speed. Testing did not include satellite or fixed wireless technologies.

The testing methodology was that used by SamKnows, a global leader in broadband measurement. Results presented in the report were taken from the peak use period, defined as 7–11 pm local time. The speeds measured were only those delivered to the home, not within the home. The CRTC points out that factors inside the home such as a large number of devices used at the same time, faulty equipment and poor Wi-Fi connectivity could impact user performance.

download-speed-technology-dsl-cablehfc-ftth-crtc-isp-canada-condo-ca
Source: CRTC

One significant finding was that download speed across all ISPs was consistent between peak and off-peak hours. Most ISPs delivered speeds above their advertised rates, regardless of the access technology in use. One service, Bell Aliant’s 7×0.64Mbps DSL, however, underperformed, delivering speeds at 77 per cent of advertised. TELUS’ 6x1Mbps DSL plan and Bell Aliant’s aforementioned 7×0.64Mbps DSL plan were the only ones to reach less than 90 per cent of their advertised rates, achieving averages of 85 per cent and 77 per cent respectively.

All access technologies met or exceeded the advertised download speed on average, demonstrating that the access technologies themselves are capable of supporting the advertised services. Not surprisingly, FTTH services delivered the highest speeds, at 121 per cent of advertised download speed during peak hours on average. Cable/HFC services delivered an average of 105 per cent and DSL services 103 per cent.

download-isp-speed-technology-dsl-cablehfc-ftth-crtc-isp-canada-condo-ca
Source: CRTC

As for upload, ISPs largely met or exceeded their advertised speeds. Bell Aliant DSL underperformed, achieving 81 per cent of its advertised upload rate. Most individual plans slightly exceeded their advertised speeds, including two plans each from TELUS and Bell Canada. TELUS’ 6x1Mbps DSL plan and Bell Aliant’s 7×0.64Mbps DSL plan delivered 81 per cent of their advertised upload speed in the 5-9Mbps bucket. On average, all access technologies exceeded 100 per cent of advertised upload rates, although as noted earlier there were individual DSL plans that did not meet this.

A second phase of the CRTC study will be launched this fall. The chairman and CEO of the CRTC expressed his gratitude to the thousands of Canadians who volunteered for measurement project, and to the ISPs themselves. The results, said Jean-Pierre Blais, provide valuable insight into the real-world performance of internet services in Canada.

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