Canada’s Internet Quality: Speed Is Good But Costs Are Bad, Study Suggests

Canada is among the world leaders when it comes to internet speed and service, but there’s room for improvement on affordability.

That’s according to a new study from Surfshark, a virtual private network (VPN) provider based in the British Virgin Islands. 

The company says it investigated internet services in 65 countries representing 70 per cent of the world’s population for its first-ever global study called the Digital Quality of Life (DQL).

“People’s physical lives are profoundly affected by our digital [lives],” the report’s lead researcher, Goddy Ray, told HuffPost Canada. “It matters a lot since over half the world’s population is using the internet.”

Researchers looked at internet speed, affordability, cybersecurity, data protection laws, online government services and the availability of electronic entertainment in the digital age.

The factors were compiled for an index, which featured some of the world’s most developed countries at the top of the list. 

Canada shines on mobile

Australia, France, Singapore, Norway and Japan made the top five for highest digital quality of life, in that order. Meanwhile, Canada finished sixth.

“Nobody’s perfect,” Ray said of the countries in the report. 

There were some bright spots for Canada in the report, which said it “stood out globally for its well-developed internet infrastructure (both mobile and broadband) and cybersecurity of the country.” 

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In terms of mobile internet speed, Canada ranked among the world’s best, trailing only Iceland and Norway. When it comes to broadband internet speed, Canada made the top 10, trailing countries such as South Korea, Romania and the U.S. Singapore was far and away the global leader on this, while Canada ranked ninth. 

“More and more social interactions are happening online and we do much more than we ever did before,” Ray told HuffPost. 

Canada was “quite good” in overall performance, Ray noted. She said the country benefits from a well-developed internet infrastructure, which is very important to mobile and broadband performance.

However, the report also identified a “problem area” for Canada, Ray said.

It’s the costs associated with internet services that have Canada outside the top five countries overall. The Great White North ranked No. 47 on mobile affordability, which was below the median. 

“Mobile internet in Canada is much less affordable than in countries that ranked lower in the overall DQL index,” the report said. 

On broadband affordability, Canada came in the 20th position, which the study characterized as “mediocre.”

Surfshark said it also conducted polls in 10 countries, including Canada, which suggested internet affordability was more important to Canadians than it was to people internationally. 

In May, HuffPost Canada reported on calls for more competition in the wireless market to lower mobile costs for Canadians. Across most of the country, 10GB wireless plans range from $85 to $120 per month, but plans are cheaper in provinces where there are strong regional competitors.

Surfshark spokeswoman Gabrielle Hermier suggested there’s more work to be done to improve local competition between telecommunication companies in Canada.

After all, this is a nation where the Big Three (Rogers, Bell and Telus) dominate the mobile market with a 90 per cent market share. 

“Improving the competition will definitely have a positive effect to people’s digital well-being in Canada as the internet would become more affordable,” Hermier said via email. 

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