Yet Another Global Study Finds Canada Lagging on Broadband

Research teams from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo’s Department of Applied Economics (supported by Cisco) have released a new study on global broadband quality.  Researchers analyzed approximately 24 million broadband speed test records from from May to July of this year.  The Canadian rankings are lousy given that the country aspires to be viewed as a global leader.  Canada ranks:

  • 17th for broadband leadership (which combines speed and access)
  • 30th for broadband quality (down from 26th in 2008)
  • 30th for download speeds
  • 31st for upload speeds
  • 25th for broadband quality as measured by stage of economic development

The speeds in countries such as Korea, Japan, and Sweden far surpass Canada, as they are countries deemed "ready for tomorrow." 


  1. Great
    Another study proves that Canada is weak at the broadband level.

    And our gouvernements officials wont do a thing to correct the issue.

    The Conservatives think that “The Holy Economic Hand” will fix the problem.
    The Liberals wont do a thing because they will be more focused to gourge Quebecers with another ad related scandal(all in the name of “Unity”.
    The NPCs will never get elected but they have more pressing mathers anyhow.
    The Bloc wont get elected, but I doubt that they even know what the internet is.

    And finally the CRTC should be renamed to: Canadian Bureau of Patetic Telecomunications because they wont do anything either.

    PS: yes i am sarcastic… but I’m sure no parties will try to do anything to improve broadband in Canada… because it’s not an issue at the election, never was, is not and may never will be.

  2. ishmael daro says:

    But what about all the propaganda?
    Although this isn’t entirely shocking, I seem to remember hearing that “Canada has one of the best broadband networks in the world” as recently as three or four years ago. I had no reason to doubt that claim at the time, but this study sure torpedoes that idea.

  3. Desmond Cox says:

    You CAN make a difference!
    I’m not sure if this was already mentioned on your blog:

  4. To be Fair
    All three of those countries (Korea, Sweden, Japan) would fit into Ontario alone, with 25,000 square kilometers to spare. Given the vastness of the landmass involved in a Canada wide network, and the dollars required to match the broadband density of these other countries the comparison isn’t exactly apples to apples is it.

  5. To be fair
    Sorry Kevin..
    Although the geography does play a part in the numbers, the fact that there are zero locations in Canada that can compete with the speeds and quality of internet access in those countries tells a different story.
    They widespread geography might mean a greater disparity between large centers and smaller ones. It shouldn’t mean that all locations should see the approximate same speed and quality regardless of population density. There is something very artificial about the ISP limitations and “speeds” we are seeing in Canada.

  6. Population Density

    We still lag behind when pop density is factored. So, it can be an apples to apples comparison.

    What we lack, that the aforementioned three nations have, is an effective broadband policy. Expecting the private sector to see past their self-interest is not working.

  7. Population Density
    I wish people would stop downplaying these numbers because of geographic size. That’s a red herring and you darned well know it. There should be absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have 15-20M speeds in metropolitan areas, but we DON’T. In suburban areas, we should have 8-10M, but we DON’T. When countries like Lithuania, Latvia Romania and Muldova show we aren’t even on the racetrack, much less trying to race, that makes us a disgusting pitiful excuse in telecommunications. Notice Korea and japan weren’t even mentioned?

    The only way this will become an election issue is if we MAKE it one. If we can’t be bothered, we get what we deserve.

  8. CloudWOmega says:


    in suburbs you can get 10M (i do). but really the numbers should be much higher, the possibility for 100M is here, and the work “SHOULD” have already started to change from coaxial/twisted pair, to optical. but it hasn’t happened, this should be a priority. but what i see is the more troubleing fact is the download limits we are given, they are outrageous, internet is not a resource that can be sold in such a way! internet companies make enough money to support their lines without this, in fact if they spent more on getting us better internet then it would make their jobs easier and cost less! in japan it costs $40ish to get a 100Mbit… but it can cost us up to $100 for a 10 Mbit… can you see the problem?

  9. I have 20/10 Mb in Vancouver(well actually Burnaby) and can get 60/60 Mb
    Luckily my building is serviced by Novus who provide completely unthrottled internet(up to the max on the plan which start at 110 GB down AND 110 GB up – ie. counted separately). As they have fibre to the building, i have no doubt they could easily do 100/100 but even at 20/10 I rarely can get up past 10 mb download as quite simply a lot of the internet cannot serve me fast enough. I have maxed it out on regular downloads as well as bittorrent(although my d-link wifi router has difficulty handling all the connections for bt).

  10. 20/10 Mb?
    Holy crap! In my rural area the best high speed service is via wireless internet at 3 MBps. Cable is non-existent. Bell doesn’t even offer the “Bell Internet Essentials Plus” plan much less higher speeds. The phone lines are so long, and so many splices, that the highest speed I’ve EVER seen on landline is 33,600 bps (my neighbour gets that sometimes, I’ve never had that).

    For those folks that claim that geography isn’t an issue, it does play a part. Much of the landmass of the country that has access to high-speed is via wireless, meaning line of sight from a tower. If you don’t have that you just ain’t getting it. The alternative is satellite. Speeds of up to 1.2 MBps download, 200 kbps upload all for the low, low price of $79.99 per month, (plus $199 for the gear, plus $99 activation fee on a 3 year contract)… For the wireless I mentioned above, up to 3Mbps up/download, cost is $40 per month plus $10 for equipment rental, setup of $200 – $400.

    The biggest issue with copper/fibre high-speed is that the customer density isn’t high enough that the phone and cable companies are willing to spend the money to build up their infrastructure. The telecom infrastructure in Canada is privately owned (although for phone it had received public subsidies to set it up). What incentive is there for the owners of the infrastructure to expand the high speed infrastructure to low density parts of the country? There may be no physical reason why it can’t be done, but that is only part of the picture. There is no particular economic reason as the return on the investment isn’t high enough. Who supplies the infrastructure for countries with high high-speed penetration through out the country, like Lithuania, Latvia Romania and Muldova?

  11. Broadband Policy

    We’ve gone about as far as the private sector can take us. They’ve laid the infrastructure twice (copper/cable), and in same places, three (FTTH) or even four (wireless) times. What a terrible waste of resources. You can hardly blame them for wanting to maximize revenues by charging three ways (speed/cap/usage) for the service.

    We’ll never get beyond a third world telecom if the public sector is not engaged. Hydro, water, gas, sewage, etc. is a public responsibility in most parts of the country. It may be time the provide incentives to municipalities to manage the last mile for telecom service.

    Have the incumbants compete at the headend for services. Open the market to competition. Have the municipalities maintain the last-mile infrastructure.

  12. @MarcR
    While it may not have appeared in my previous post, I can’t agree with you more. I’d further argue that the public sector should be doing the backbone, not just the last mile. The private sector buys bulk from the infrastructure operator and resells it to customers of their own, and offering additional services that don’t require infrastructure support, such as call answer. Not only the wireline telcos, wireless should be run this way. The infrastructure operator, whoever that is, deals with only a few customers (the resellers). This occurs already with electricity (to a point) in Ontario. After the breakup of the Ontario Hydro megacorp, we have Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One Networks and a third which deals with things like water heater rentals.

    The point of them laying the infrastructure more than once will never go away; as they migrate to new technologies they’ll be laying new infrastructure (my apologies if I misunderstood your comment). Some of the migration is unavoidable. The Canadian market is so small (on a global scale) that it isn’t feasible to keep using the old tech. For instance the old analogue cell phone service went away; will LG or Nokia or Motorola keep making them just for Canada? I doubt it. There is parallel setups as well; we have parallel cell systems in place, GSM vs CDMA(?), not to mention the migration to 3G.

  13. @Josephk
    The reason it will never be an election issue:
    Canadians are usually sheeps, they follow what the Big Media Corp tells them to. If the Big Media Corp tells them that Broadband speeds are not an issue, the sheeps will follow.

    Who owns the Big Media corps? usally the same ones that own ISPs.

  14. Downtown isn’t always great either…
    Lest you think being in Toronto makes things great – I have a preference not to switch to cable internet. My DSL, however, is limited to 1.7 Mb/s down and 384kb/s up. That’s not an artificial limitation – I’m actually paying for 5 Mb/s (the lowest plan my ISP offers) but the line won’t support a higher speed. It’s probably too far to the wire centre (I roughed it out – looks like about 12,000 feet).

    This isn’t Scarborough, either. This is right near Danforth and Coxwell. Almost all my services are easy walking distance, but the DSL is lousy.

  15. Downtown isn’t always great either…
    @Chris S:

    Chris, you just proved my point exactly. Korea blows Muldova out of the water, and Ontario’s Capital city just can’t compete with Muldova (a small Eastern Block country), speedwise. BTW, Muldova is has a lesser population, and approx. 20x the land area of urban Toronto.

    With our supposed resources, Toronto should be right up there with Japan & Korea.

    The answer: how about expropriate the infrastructure from the ALL the telcoms and put it under public control. An indie can start up, have access to the infrastructure, start up shop and thrive (or die) as to how they operate their business?

    And don’t try to BS me that the there were no tax dollars spent to make the infrastructure. Wasn’t there a “grant” from the feds (read: tax dollars) to Bell to “expand suburban broadband coverage” (read” infrastructure”)announced within the last month or so??

  16. Geist have been had by the University of Oxford’s non “academically sound” report!
    over at the blog of the no.1 apologist for the big 3 telcos, the verdict is that all these broadband reports are hogwash, and that all those [including prof. geist] who believe canada is lagging in broadband, are being duped by these less “academically sound” reports by Oxford, OECD etc.

  17. Geist have been had by the University of Oxford’s non “academically sound” report!

  18. Nobody is talking about having 100Mbit in the NWT.

    Southern Ontario and southern Quebec alone probably have 2/3 of Canada’s population. Forget talking about Asia. How is it that Sweden which has less the population of Southern Ontario, yet is more about 3 times the size has the broadband infrastructure that it does?

    Must have something to do with hobbits & fairy’s.

  19. says:

    Yet Another Global Study Finds Canada Lagging on Broadband
    It agree with the last statement.