While many people are satisfied with their internet connection speed, the cost of internet might not be so agreeable. Canada has amongst one of the world’s slowest internet speeds and highest costs around the world. According to the OECD Broadband portal infographic, Canada ranks at 19th while Korea* sits in first place with the highest speed and lowest cost of $0.33 per mbps. Comparing the prices of internet in Quebec, the average monthly plan runs from $40-100 depending on the bandwidth provided. The majority of Internet users in Quebec use either Videotron or Bell and pay premium pricing for little broadband usage. Although Canada’s internet speed falls behind many countries it’s not the speed that’s the main problem. Most of us are able to access the information we want fairly quickly. The main problem is not that the internet speed isn’t fast enough, it’s that we are paying astronomical prices for low bandwidth compared to other countries around the world.
While there seems to be more services that offer streaming music like Spotify, Grooveshark, 8tracks, and itunes, it’s important to consider the data usage when streaming and/or downloading music. According to Videotron,60 GB gives you approximately 100 hours of browsing, 200 videos, download 300 songs, playing online for 55 hours, and listen to the radio for 30 hours. For instance, if you stream a 2 hour HD movie on Netflix, that brings you to about 3600MB which converts to about 3.5 GB.*That means if you have a 60 GB data allowance, you can stream around 17 hours worth of movies/songs a month. While that may seem like a fair amount, that doesn’t include regular browsing, uploading, downloading on a day to day basis. Of course if you’re sharing your bandwidth with housemates then the bandwidth limit will be hit much faster.
But why are internet prices so high here in Canada? According to the Berkman Center “regulatory hesitation and an over-reliance on competition between telephone and cable companies are the causes of Canada’s poor performance. While the CRTC did institute open-access rules that require network owners to share their expensive and hard-to-replicate infrastructure with smaller competitors, it has only done so half-heartedly” (CBC). In other words, lack of competition amongst ISP providers cause unfair distribution of broadband infrastructure (favoring large telecommunication companies over smaller independent service providers), and finally little to no interference from the CRTC to regulate prices are some of the fundamental reasons why Canada sits at the bottom in terms of pricing.
So what are some possible solutions to bring internet prices down? One of the best ways is to stay informed with changes in telecommunication policies. Visit Openmedia.ca and sign up for their updates to keep up with current news and participate in their strategy plans like their current proposed plan. Another similar organization is Openwireless.org, a project by the EFF. (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Other ways include subscribing to independent service providers such as Tekksavvy, or Radioactif who offer lower and more affordable prices for the same amount of bandwidth as other larger competitors.
Alternatively, support and get involved with nonprofit organizations such as Ils Sans Fils “a non-profit organization (NPO) that aims to provide free public wireless Internet access in Montreal”(À PROPOS).
Internet prices of Videotron, Tekksavy, Radioactif and Bell:
At $42.95 you have a 60 GB Bandwidth cap
*At $39.99 you have a 300GB bandwidth cap
*Factual error corrections: (1)In the previous post, it was written that Canada ranks 23rd,but it was outdated. The updated version of Circa‘s 2013 Factbook for their 2011 infographic is now posted.
(2)In the previous post, it said 2 GB. Thanks to some readers who pointed out the mistake, the post is now updated.
The original post for Open Media at Mcgill can be read here.