Canada's Condominium Magazine

Toronto’s ultra-advanced communications network on the waterfront

Is high-speed Internet access important to you? Would you choose where to live based on having that access? Do you realize that Toronto is ranked one of the world’s “smartest” cities?

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Residents of the new Waterfront Toronto community shown in this rendering will have Internet access speeds up to 500 times faster than typically available in North America.

It was a news item from the UK that caught our attention and got us wondering about the subject of broadband access in Toronto. The UK has relatively slow broadband rates, compared to other countries. Based on numbers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), England’s advertised average broadband speed is 34.4 kbps. Canada’s is 52.02. The world’s fastest is found in Japan, with an average speed of 149.6 kbps.

In England, a recent survey found that many areas had dismal, even “negligible” rates as low as 0.132 Mbps. The differences between download speeds from one area to another are as great as 500 times. In one street, a resident could download a two-hour film in 2 minutes and 49 seconds: that same download would take someone on a different street 25 hours and 15 minutes.

So it’s not surprising that almost one-third of people asked said that good broadband access is important when choosing where to live. Many said they would pay more—as much as 3 per cent more—for a home with good broadband. At current English home prices, that would translate into about $20,000 extra to get good broadband. Not insignificant, by any measure.

It’s very difficult to get a good handle on where Canada stands, in terms of broadband speeds. That OECD report, published in July, 2012, ranked Canada #7 in the world for broadband speed. Only Japan, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Korea and Slovenia were ahead. But Bill Hutchinson, the Executive Director of Intelligent Communities for Waterfront Toronto said a couple of years ago that Canada was falling way behind other countries, likening our broadband access to traveling on gravel roads when the smarter folks were on paved highways. Our networks, he said, were either 1/100th or 1/1000th of the speeds available in the top performing cities of the world: Tokyo, Seoul, Amsterdam, Stockholm.

One Internet authority, Akamai, reported in its State of the Internet for the third quarter of 2012 that average connection speeds had actually declined globally by 6.8 per cent to 2.8 Mbps. Hong Kong, however, remained the city with the fastest peak connection speed at 54.1 Mbps.

But if promoters are correct, 54.1 Mbps will seem rather pokey in the new Waterfront Toronto community, already recognized internationally as groundbreaking and largely responsible for Toronto’s being named one of the world’s seven most intelligent communities by the Intelligent Community Forum.

The Waterfront Toronto community will have a network that delivers Internet connectivity starting at 100 Mbps for residences and up to 10 gigabits per second for commercial customers. The Waterfront group says that broadband of this quality has not previously been available to Toronto residents. Condo residents in the new community will pay for the service as part of their monthly condo fees.

Waterfront Toronto boasts that residents there will have “affordable and unlimited access” to Internet speeds that are as much as 500 times faster than “typical” North American residential networks provide. Every home and business, it says, will be equipped to become “first adopters” of the web-based technologies of the future.

Of course, it’s not just about how fast you can download a movie on your computer. The kind of “smart” IT infrastructure they are talking about for Waterfront Toronto is crucial to the city’s ability to compete internationally.

 

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