Report finds Canadian broadband slow, expensive

Geist-48X68.jpgPosted by Michael Geist
In recent months, much of the discussion about high-speed Internet service in Canada has focused on two key issues — net neutrality and the need to bring broadband access to the remaining underserved areas in rural Canada. Both of these issues are now squarely on the public agenda with the CRTC conducting hearings on net neutrality next month and the government committing millions toward rural broadband initiatives in this year's budget.
My weekly technology law column notes that missing is a third, fast-growing concern, however. According to a new OECD report, Canada has one of the slowest and most expensive consumer broadband networks in the developed world. The OECD report, widely viewed as the leading global benchmark on broadband networks, compared Canada with 29 other countries on a range of metrics. These included broadband availability, pricing, speed, and bandwidth caps.
At first glance, the numbers do not seem that bad, with Canada ranking ninth out of 30 countries for broadband penetration. While that represents a sharp decline from years ago when Canada prided itself in standing second worldwide, its current position is unchanged from last year. Yet the situation becomes far more troubling once the OECD delves deeper into Canadian broadband pricing and speed.
Canada is relatively expensive by OECD standards, ranking 14th for monthly subscription costs at US$45.65 per month. By comparison, Japanese consumers pay an average of US$30.46 per month and consumers in Britain spend an average of US$30.63. The relatively high prices may help to explain why there are still many Canadians with access to broadband networks who choose not to subscribe.
Not only is the Canadian Internet relatively expensive, it is also comparatively slow, ranking 24th out of the 30 OECD countries. Internet users in Japan, Korea, and France enjoy a genuinely different Internet experience, where the far-faster speeds allows for applications and services that have yet to make their mark in Canada. Moreover, the speed gap between Canada and most of the OECD appears to be growing. Click here to read more of Michael's post.

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