U.S. broadband plans highlight Canadian problem

23 Jul

A couple weeks back, I wrote about how a new CRTC report found Canadian internet services to be lagging other peer countries in several measures. With low-end plans specifically, the authors had trouble making a proper comparison because a few of the countries didn’t even have the sorts of low speeds offered by Canadian ISPs.

That’s what made the recent news from Charter Communications, one of the big four cable companies in the United States, that much more interesting. The company is doing away with its two slowest and cheapest plans – those at 3 and 15 megabits per second – and is instead offering only 30 and 100 Mbps plans, according to Multichannel News. It’s amazing that the slowest speeds available from the company are now 30 Mbps, while many Canadian ISPs are still selling services in the 3 Mbps range.

What’s even more interesting are the prices Charter is charging. The 30 Mbps plan, which has an upload speed of 4 Mbps and 250 gigabytes of monthly usage, is $30 for 12 months and then $50 afterward. The 100 Mbps plan, with a 5 Mbps upload and 500 GB of usage, is $90 for the first year and $109 after.

Naturally, I wondered how that compares with what major Canadian cable companies are offering. In that vein, I made up the handy-dandy chart below, based on the most comparable packages available from the three biggest, Shaw, Rogers, Videotron, and Charter, using non-promotional prices:

(A few notes: Rogers doesn’t actually have a 30 Mbps plan, so I used its 32 Mbps offering instead. Rogers and Videotron don’t have 100 Mbps plans, so I used their respective 75 and 120 Mbps services instead.)

A few things stand out in the comparison, with the first being the dramatically lower usage limits on Rogers and Videotron. Conversely, the two cable companies also have significantly higher prices than Charter on the 30 Mbps service. Rogers’ is actually cheaper on the higher-end plan, but let’s not forget that it’s also giving up a full 25 Mbps in speed. The other thing that’s notable is that Shaw compares favourably in both measures.

Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from such a limited comparison? Obviously, yes – that Rogers and Videotron are generally more expensive and stingy in monthly usage when compared to one of their big U.S. counterparts.

The more telling fact, however, is the difference between the three Canadian cable companies – Shaw clearly has better plans. Why? The common denominator between Rogers and Videotron is that they share a common main rival – Bell, in Ontario and Quebec, respectively – while Shaw competes mainly against Telus in the west. If there’s anything that the above numbers seem to suggest, it’s that Bell’s presence in a market results in worse internet plans.

I’ll do afuller comparison of all U.S. and Canadian cable companies when I get back from vacation.


Posted by on July 23, 2012 in bell, internet, rogers, shaw


5 responses to “U.S. broadband plans highlight Canadian problem

  1. nowhere3

    July 23, 2012 at 12:31 am

    “The 30 Mbps plan, which has an upload speed of 4 Mbps and 250 gigabytes of monthly usage, is $30 for 12 months and then $50 afterward. The 100 Mbps plan, with a 5 Mbps upload and 500 GB of usage, is $90 for the first year and $109 after.”

    I read that as $30/year and $90/year and almost moved to wherever Charter offers Internet.

  2. obmx

    July 23, 2012 at 5:33 am

    60s x 60m x 24h x 30d = 2,592,000 seconds in 30 days
    1Mbps* / 8 bits per byte** = 0.125 megabytes per second
    0.125MB/s x 2,592,000s = 324,000 megabytes in 30 days
    324,000 / 1024 = 316.40625 gigabytes per month at 1 megabit per second

    So 500GB/mo is equivalent to 1.58Mbps of monthly average throughput, which is absolutely pathetic. It’s more of an overage-charge-generator than it is an internet service. At least it’s more than one single, measly megabit though, which is more than you can say for any capped plan available in Ontario.

    Some Ontario plans with same units for bandwidth and throughput/cap:
    Down: 175 Mbps / Up: 175 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.948 Mbps
    Down: 25 Mbps / Up: 10 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.395 Mbps
    Down: 15 Mbps / Up: 10 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.237 Mbps

    Down: 75 Mbps / Up: 2 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.790 Mbps
    Down: 32 Mbps / Up: 1 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.474 Mbps
    Down: 28 Mbps / Up: 1 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.379 Mbps

    Down: 10 Mbps / Up: 0.512 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.395 Mbps
    Down: 20 Mbps / Up: 0.512 Mbps / Monthly Cap: 0.632 Mbps

    The way they advertise these plans ought to be illegal. It’s gross deception plain and simple. There’s no such thing as a decent capped plan on a landline.

    * 1000Kbps in the base-10 units used by networking gear
    ** in the base-2 bytes used to correctly define the size of binary data (1024 of which make a kilobyte, 1024 of which make a megabyte, 1024 of which make a gigabyte)

  3. Jonathan Blaine

    July 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Also of note, US broadband providers often have deeply-discounted 6 to 12-month “introductory” or bundled offers (with video and phone) that lower these rates dramatically, which is also a rare offering in Canada. There are also no contracts in most instances (save for the phone companies, and there are often no-contract offerings there, too), so these prices (or similar) are often extended if the customer threatens to bolt to the competition.

    • BT

      July 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      While not Cable Internet, Bell most definitely offers deep intro discounts. They’re currently offering the 15 and 25 Mbps plans at half price for 6 months. Rogers doesn’t advertise them, but you can often get some kind of intro deal by calling in and negotiating.

      And deep discounts are available from most Canadian providers by threatening to leave. Not necessarily half off (unless you’re good at negotiating), but easily in the 20-30% range from one simple phone call to customer support.

      • Jonathan Blaine

        July 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        Understood, but these rates certainly do not last throughout the contract, and good luck getting any reduction of rates (or any service at all, for that matter) without a long contract in Canada. Want to cancel cable service in the US? Call a day before, not two weeks or a month ahead like in Canada. What BT is writing is certainly “glass half full” and not the whole story.

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