Internet Service Providers in Canada Compared

As we all become increasingly addicted to online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime, it’s a good time to review the Internet Service Providers that provide us with the ability to binge watch 20 episodes of The Good Wife in an evening, or (heaven forbid!) download the two most recent seasons of Game of Thrones. Is there a difference between them other than price? Do we have an actual “choice” when it comes to who delivers us our evening’s entertainment of hatewatching Scandal, or worse, Riverdale?

The ISP space in Canada is highly regulated by the CRTC. They want to offer just enough competition to give the consumer the illusion of choice, without penalizing the players who paid to have the cable, phone and fibre lines installed. Shaw and Telus run western Canada, Rogers, Bell and Telus eastern Canada, Videotron gets Quebec, Cogeco gets to play in both Ontario and Quebec, Eastlink and Bell Aliant gets the maritimes, MTS has Manitoba and Sasktel has Sakatchewan.

When reviewing the pricing of Canadian Internet Service Providers , one can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of collusion going on as they seem to be taking a page from WestJet and Air Canada as  there seems to be very little difference in the offerings. Looking at the cheaper plans from Shaw, Rogers, Telus and Bell that have data caps (which is lame), there is not much to separate them speed, usage and pricewise.

Provider

Speed (Mbps)

Usage

Monthy Price

Shaw

30

300GB

$75

Rogers

30

250GB

$70

Telus

25

300GB

$73

Bell

25

350GB

$75

The regional IPS’s of MTS, Sasktel, and Eastlink understand their customers unquenchable desire for 5 hour marathons of Breaking Bad, and offer unlimited usage  – albeit at a higher price than the capped usage offerings from the national providers.

Provider

Speed (Mbps)

Usage

Monthly Price

Eastlink

30

Unlimited

$79

MTS

25

Unlimited

$72

Sasktel

25

Unlimited

$80

Of the seven providers, Manitoba’s MTS has the best offering with $72 a month for unlimited usage, unless you’re in Quebec and can go with Videotron. Videotron offers 120 Mbps and unlimited usage for $74.95/month.

But of course, don’t forget to read the ***FINE PRINT*** as plan pricing is often only fixed for 12 months or less before it’s subject to change.

Consumers can shift back and forth between the two big players in their region every year to capitalize on the incentive offers, and it almost seems worth it until you factor in new modems, returning modems, lost connectivity, and the endless hours on the phone with customer service. The ISP’s are counting on our general laziness and apathy.

A new competitor, however, has clawed its way through the CRTC’s muck and mire recently –  TekSavvy.

TekSavvy offers DSL and Cable service using Bell lines in Ontario and Quebec, Telus lines in Alberta and BC, Bell Aliant lines in the maritimes, and cable lines from Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and Cogeco.  TekSavvy gets access to the lines at wholesale prices and then sets their own pricing that seems to be substantially cheaper than the big guys. Their pricing is a little bit all over the map as they have different plans and prices based on the regions that they are in – and, one can assume, based on the deals that they have made with the line owners.

The table below shows some of TekSavvy’s offerings for BC.

Teksavvy (British Columbia)
Cable/DSLSpeed (Mbps)UsagePrice
DSL25400GB$45
Cable30400GB$40
DSL50Unlimited$60
Cable60400GB$63

Clearly these plans are much cheaper than the big communication companies and that has those companies up in arms!

Bell appealed a 2015 CRTC ruling that they had to offer wholesale pricing of their fibre networks to companies like TekSavvy. They lost that appeal in 2016. The CRTC’s goal is to create a competitive telecommunications market so that Canadian consumers can have internet access at “just and reasonable prices”.

Hopefully we will begin to see competition from companies like TekSavvy drive down the prices from Rogers, Telus, Bell, and Shaw – or at the very least giving us unlimited usage at the same price as now. Those 6 seasons of Downton Abbey can’t watch themselves!

PS: This article didn’t really touch on the fibre internet offerings as many of us in Vancouver, Toronto, etc., still can’t get them … though you might have better luck if you live in a smaller city.   That said, some of the names of them are so great and/or ridiculous it was worth noting them (as well as the names that lacked imagination). PureFibre, UltraFibre, HybridFibre – seriously, folks!

Canadian Fibre Optic Services & Providers
FiONMTS
EdgeEastLink
HybridFibreVideotron
UltraFibreCogeco
PureFibreTelus
FibeBell

 

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