16February 2022

Canadian ISPs Telecom 101

Internet Service Providers in Canada (ISPs) offer various different packages. In this article we will go back to basics and go over the main Canadian internet providers for residential customers.

The first thing to know is that residential packages for internet in Canada cost way more than in many other developed countries.

One reason for this is the sheer breadth of Canada. Canada’s internet providers can cost a lot to maintain a network that operates in separate and far apart locations, and this cost is spread to users across the country.

Why is internet so expensive in Canada?

The second reason which might be the biggest reason is that most of the internet infrastructure in Canada is owned by 5 or 6 major telecom companies: Bell, Rogers, TELUS, Cogeco, Videotron, and Shaw. It has also been suggested by some people that Canada’s biggest internet service providers are using their internet customers to recoup falling revenue from their TV offering, as more and more customers ditch traditional cable TV. But that’s a whole different topic and we will do a deep dive into cord cutting another day.

When you’re moving into an apartment, check which internet service providers are already operating on the premises. Some apartment buildings have special deals, and some tenant agreements will have service from ISPs in Canada already included in the cost.

Since Bell, Rogers, Telus, Cogeco and Shaw are among the bigger ISPs in Canada offering packages even if you order internet from third-party internet providers such as Teksavvy, CanNet Telecom, Vmedia, Comwave or Primus, you will still be using the incumbent’s internet infrastructure

Availability will also depend on your location. For instance, Bell and Rogers are the big internet service providers in Ontario, while Shaw and Telus are the main players competing in western provinces.

Furthermore to show the big Telecom’s dominance in the market the following companies are owned by the big guys. Fido is owned by Rogers, Virgin Plus is owned by Bell, Fizz is owned by Videotron.

It seems customers simply cannot escape the big telecom no matter how bad they want. The only thing they can do is live life without telecommunications but we all know that it is not possible in today’s society. The big guys simply operate in an oligopoly without anyone able to stop their chokehold on the Canadian consumers. They are the ones to blame for these ridiculous prices for internet, phone and television services.

Which internet provider in Canada is best for me?

There are a number of factors to consider, including download and upload speeds, data caps, company ethics, and cost.

Why cable internet is the best option for Canadians

Don’t be shy about asking internet service providers for detail on these, and explaining to them how you typically use the internet. It’s their job to ensure you’re informed about the package you’re buying.

If there’s anything the person you’re speaking to seems unsure of, feel free to politely ask them for an answer.

Download/upload speed

Any data that comes from the internet to your device relies on your downloading stream to get there. The higher the speed, the faster this data is likely to get to your device.

You can get by with very little if you’re doing some light web browsing. Examples would be checking email, reading articles like those on news sites, and looking at some photos on Facebook from time to time.

Other activities require more data to be transferred. A common example would be video, and in particular, avideo that has a very clear picture.

Netflix, for instance, recommends download speeds of at least five megabits per second (Mbps) to watch HD video, and 25Mbps to watch Ultra HD (very high-quality) video.

Any data that goes to the internet from your device relies on your uploading stream to get there.

Every time you type in a web address or search something on Google, you’re sending data from your device to the internet. These are relatively simple tasks that don’t require a very high upload speed.

More intense activities would be a Skype call, for example. When you’re streaming live imagery from your web camera to another web user, you’ll need a strong upload speed to send video that’s of a viewable quality.

Skype recommends an upload speed of at least 1.5Mbps.

You can check your internet speed here

Other issues to consider:

  • Your patience. Slower download/upload speeds mean data will transfer more slowly. If you want web pages to load more quickly, then pay for a higher speed from your Canadian internet provider.
  • How many people / devices will be connecting to the internet? If you pay for a 10Mbps download speed, and six people are all connected to it at the same time, you’ll end up with some very slow internet indeed.
  • Will you be connecting over the wireless, Wi-Fi connection, instead of directly to the modem with a cable? The advertised speeds apply to wired connections. Speeds weaken over Wi-Fi, and deteriorate the further you go away from the router. You may need to pay a little extra to get yourself some wriggle room.

Data caps

A lot of Canadian internet plans still have a limit to how much data you can upload and download in any given month. Data caps should not be a thing anymore in 2022. That’s why we only sell unlimited usage internet plans.

You will usually be able to check how much you’re using on an online tracker. If you’re otherwise happy with a package, but are concerned you might breach the data cap, it would be a good idea to try it for a month, monitor your usage, and upgrade later if needs be.

Let’s say there are two of you in the house. You both work from home and watch Netflix and stream some live TV for an hour or two a night. You also look at Facebook, and check news websites emails on your desktop and your phone. You both FaceTime for about two hours in total per week and you like to play video games. It is likely that you would definitely sign up for an unlimited plan.

Other factors to consider

It’s impossible to answer these factors conclusively in an article such as this, so don’t be shy about discussing these when you’re talking to companies providing internet in Canada.

  • How big is your house/apartment/condo? Will the wireless router they provide cover all areas? Have a look at where the wall outlet for internet service providers is located in your home and tell them whether it’s centrally located.
  • Is there a rental charge for the equipment? Canada’s internet providers vary in this respect. Some will add a monthly fee for their modem, others won’t.
  • Is their technical support good? Wi-Fi operates on a range of signals, and in apartment blocks where lots of Wi-Fi networks operate, these signals can sometimes interfere with each other. If you’re not technically proficient, you may need to give them a call, so ensure you go with internet service providers who are ready to help.
  • Is there a charge for technical support call-outs and how fast is the support?
  • Are there any network problems in the area you should be aware of? Occasionally, internet service providers in Canada will have issues providing full service to all customers in a particular area. It might occur at the evenings, for example, when the majority of its users are all attempting to download lots of data at the same time.
  • What extras are included in the cost? Of course, a good salesperson will tell you this without being asked, but lots of internet service providers in Canada include some nice extras in the cost. Be sure to make the most of your hard-earned loonie.
  • Is the company ethical? Do they care about the internet and access for all users in Canada? How do they position themselves on the market? Make sure to vote with your wallet.