Bell’s Sunny Broadband Claims

Bell offers its perspective on UBB in a debate with TekSavvy in the pages of the National Post (a similar debate occurs in the Globe – Waverman vs. Beers).  The Bell response includes the claim that Canada is a broadband leader:

At the same time, Canada has increasingly become a world leader when it comes to broadband. When it comes to actual download speeds, Canada ranks third in the G20, behind only densely populated Korea and Japan. And prices are low — in fact, for higher-speed services, lower than in both the U.S. and Japan.

I’m not sure where these claims come from – Canada does not appear in the top 10 on Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report for Internet speed and no Canadian city makes Akamai’s top 100 for peak speed. The OECD report ranks Canada well back in terms of speed and price as does the Berkman report.  The NetIndex report ranks Canada 36th in the world for residential speed. Moreover, the shift away from the OECD to the G20 has the effect of excluding many developed countries with faster and cheaper broadband than Canada (while bringing in large, developing world economies that unsurprisingly rank below Canada on these issues). While there is probably a report somewhere that validates the claim, the consensus is that Canada is not a leader.


  1. Paul Arbour says:

    Where’s the proof?
    How odd that I can comb the internet and see thousands of real world tests and pragmatic results from real users on bandwidth test sites, visit a site like: which is based on real user benchmarks, not some academic study of ‘available’ bandwidth etc…

    And again we muddy the debate, the concern of late isn’t about SPEED of the connection it is about how much we pay per GB. I am waiting for a Bell exec to come out with “If we don’t take care of the Gigabytes we have we will leave behind a burden on our children”.

  2. Paul Arbour says:

    And another thing
    We can rank wherever we want in terms of speed, heck everyone in Canada could have a 10Tb/s connection to their homes, but if you consume all of your allocated bandwidth in 60 seconds, that connection isn’t of much value.

  3. Cherrypicking results
    Bell’s claims probably come from cherrypicking results of simple tests like I know my Bell/Aliant FibreOp connection (70/15) typically places my results just below South Korea’s in terms of speed. But a raw number doesn’t tell the whole story. They certainly avoid talking about caps, per GB incremental costs, etc., where Canada ranks very near the bottom compared to both the OECD and G20.

  4. Backwards, we’ve been going backwards
    Bell is still living in the 90s. Back then, their 3mb/800kb DSL service was considered state of the art. It’s quick rollout across Canada saw Canada rapidly rise to leadership in the “High Speed Internet” arena. Sadly, 1998 is not 2011. Their 3mb/800kbs DSL is still the same, but others are deploying ADSL2, FTTH, DOCSIS3 and other technologies that make this look like, well, the late 90s tech it is. Poor Teksavvy are stuck piggybacking on this, because, well, they have no choice, if they want to be in customers’ homes.

    Canada got to the 50m line first, but then stood there and watched while everyone else carried on with the race..

  5. Keep in mind that it’s easy to twist numbers.
    If Bell were to publish numbers, I’d be very suspect of the methodology behind them.

    As an example of a way you could come up with flawed data, many of us across the country who are on rural wireless high-speed are subject to what’s known as “burst”. A short test will indicate 5-10 times what the true sustained rate is. On top of that, traffic over certain ports tends to be throttled severely.

    You could easily pull my “best case” numbers and they’d look somewhat reasonable – around 5Mbps. Video streams that pause-and-cache, and the fact that downloading a backup from my VPS (or an online game through Steam) takes many more hours than it should would tend to disagree though.

    Even if the above doesn’t apply in Bell’s case, there’s also the matter of what numbers Bell would use to prove their case. What if they include dial-up and cell-phone-internet in their “average monthly usage” numbers? What if they then only include broadband speeds at non-peak hours to come up with their “average speeds”? Are they using true speeds, or the maximum-theoretical included in the package to come up with their data? Are they adding business speeds to those numbers?

    We have no way of knowing.

    Because they have an agenda, I’m very suspect of what methods they use to come up with their data. There are many variables and it’s very easy to pick and choose what you use in order to twist things to look much better than they really are.

    Data sent out by companies like Akamai is likely some of the most reliable. Not to say they don’t have an agenda of their own, but there isn’t the same conflict of interest.

    I’d suspect our numbers are lower than the NetIndex data, since it uses data from, and as I said before, my “burst” gives me really high scores there, If the test were a 5-10 minute test (or heaven forbid used a tool running over a non-standard port), I think us rural customers would severely reduce the numbers they’re getting.

  6. It upsets me greatly
    If Bell ever honestly showed the numbers to back their claims, I’d have a look and accept them if they were true. Why won’t they ever just show numbers? They’re either assuming we’re stupid enough to accept a lie, or they themselves are the idiots for not providing numbers. Either way, all this would be sorted out simply if they provide their proof.

    But I suppose that would be too easy. This whole debacle has gone on for years too long, and I’m really starting to tire of it.

  7. Honestly, the audacity of Mr. Bibic in trying to spread bold-face lies through the media is so brazen that it’s startling. I mean, honestly, who does he think he is? It’s an insult to Canadians and our intelligence. I wish for nothing more than this whole fiasco to be a complete public relations disaster for Bell. To see their stocks plummet would make me a very happy man.

  8. Jason Sichkaryk says:

    Broadcast false or misleading news
    If only there were some sort of organisation in this country that regulated the broadcast of false and misleading news. Perhaps they could investigate these claims and ask Bell to provide supporting evidence in the future.

  9. Call Bibic Out in Public
    I think you should call Bibic out for a public debate on this issue on the CBC Michael. This nonsense of writing editorials back and forth in the papers is counter-productive. Force Bell to dodge rocks on live National television and put an end to this once and for all please.

  10. Facts and not words
    Weird that Italy is not mentioned at all. For the type of job I do I’m able to connect remotely with computers in Italy. If I download the same file from here it takes 10 times more. I know here there is lot of filtering, but the filtering counts in the overall internet speed service which makes Italy faster (and cheaper) then Canada in terms of internet connection.

  11. If Bell really wants to back up their numbers, they should allow a third party access to all their data on how they came up with the numbers to see if they come to the same conclusion. Chances are they wouldn’t since there are already third parties proving Bell wrong that I think are a whole hell of a lot more impartial than Bell is.

  12. Canadian Consumer says:

    BELL are EXPERTS in DECEIT billing.
    What is with the constant lying and misrepresentation by Bell? Nothing that comes from this company should be trusted or taken at face value. Have you read you Bell bill? You need a masters to balance out the credits, promotions and digital charges. They are experts at obfuscating the truth and stealing from your pockets.

    Bell only wants to rip off Canadians. In 25 years they have never made mistake in my favour, but in that time they plenty in theirs. This company should be raided and investigated for consumer fraud.

  13. Please call Bibic out in public
    On CBC. Wherever.

  14. Canadian Consumer says:

    I think this is a good opportunity to help out Bell and Rogers by taking the complexity out of their business and buying out the LAST MILE for every Canadian. They can than focus on their core services like Sportsnet and CTV and let other companies who are more FOCUSED on connectivity, build the networks for the 21st century. BELL can focus on CTV, Rogers can focus on Sportsnet.

    It must be difficult spanning such diverse interests, where providing reliable connectivity on one side can compromise a division on the other. The best thing we can do for these giants is to relieve them of their conflict of interests. Than each sector will be able to gallop on its own stride un burdened by potential.

    This is really simple guys. Very easy solution to the entire mess. Where everyone in Canada wins, including the corporate sector which now has more incentive to be innovative and efficient in its chosen field, instead of politics and regulation.

  15. I left Bell
    The reason I left Bell is because the reality does not live up to their Internet claims. Take just one claim, their claim of “fiber”. For me, they used the usual copper all the way from the local central office to my modem. By their logic, their use of fiber between (but not always within) cities would also mean that my cable provider is really a “satellite” company because they get their feeds from satellite, before delivering to me on cable. It’s just absurd. It’s not satellite unless it’s on your property, and it’s not fiber unless it’s on your property. The most generous thing you could say is that Bell is being misleading. I view it more harshly than that.

  16. Sébastien Duquette says:

    Canada in Top 3 ? Oh please…
    I’m in France since 2 weeks. Here I have 30mpbs Internet with Numericable for 33 euros a month (roughly 45$CAN) AND it comes with digital TV and a fixed telephone line with which I can do international calls to 60 countries including Canada. They also offer 100Mbps for 43 euros (56 $CAN). I paid more in Canada even with Teksavvy for 5mbps and this is only for the Internet. And I have no bandwidth limit nor throttling.

    I’m really fed-up with the big telcos (Bell, Rogers) telling us that the Internet prices in Canada are great. The truth is that they totally suck. Yes Canada is a large country with a small population per square-mile so it is to be expected that the costs are increased, but this doesn’t allow Bell to outright lie to our faces saying we have the best service in the world.