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 (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that issing 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.