What’s with Canada’s slow wireless speeds?

25 Apr

TURTLESAkamai is back with another State of the Internet report (free registration required) and perhaps the most notable result from it, at least as it pertains to Canada, is another dreadful showing in mobile network speeds.

The data for the one Canadian wireless provider tracked shows it to be way behind much of the world, posting an average connection speed in the fourth quarter of 2012 of just over one megabit per second, with a peak of 2.7 Mbps. Those speeds are almost dead last among the 82 providers in 54 countries tracked. (One Austrian provider is tops in average speed at 8 Mbps while a Spanish carrier wins out in peak speeds with 44 Mbps, by way of comparison.)

With all three of Canada’s big providers having rolled out super-fast LTE, those figures must surely be wrong, right?

I asked David Belson, the report’s editor, if he could clarify. While Akamai – which serves up a good chunk of the web’s traffic – doesn’t want to reveal the specific carriers monitored in its regular report, Belson did confirm that he considers the Canadian carrier in question to be a national incumbent.

He also acknowledged that the results don’t necessarily look right.

“It is surprisingly low given what we believe their subscriber-ship is compared to similar providers in other countries.”

What’s possibly happening is that the carrier’s mobile traffic isn’t on one of the particular autonomous network systems that Akamai tracks. It’s fairly complicated, but the basic explanation is that this carrier may be mixing its mobile traffic with fixed traffic, which is not necessarily unprecedented.

“It may be the case that we are examining an autonomous system from this given provider that is more limited in nature,” Belson says. “It may not include their LTE deployment, depending on the way they’ve structured their network infrastructure and routing.”

Akamai is in the process of shifting to a new way of identifying mobile networks, which should give it better clarity in identifying these autonomous systems. Belson says he expects to see some big differences in the next batch of quarterly results.

Elsewhere in the report, Canada posts some rather hum-drum results in wired connectivity. As the chart below shows, Canada is 12th in average connection speed (6.8 Mbps) and 15th in peak speeds (28.7 Mbps). Both measures are behind the United States and trail respective leaders Hong Kong (9.3 Mbps) and South Korea (49.3 Mbps). Canada’s results aren’t terrible, but they’re certainly nowhere near tops either.


Canada has done fairly well in getting people onto basic broadband, which is defined these days as at least 4 Mbps, ranking seventh on that measure and ahead of the U.S. But, as the chart below shows, it hasn’t done as well in getting people onto faster speeds, coming in at just 15th in the percentage of users above 10 Mbps, which ranks below the U.S.



Posted by on April 25, 2013 in telecommunications


2 responses to “What’s with Canada’s slow wireless speeds?

  1. Marc Venot

    April 25, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Don’t starve is a (very) canadian video game that has been released today.

  2. I can send smoke signals faster

    April 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I know first hand that our telecartels are not investing in infrastructure. Just now I just ran a sample using my iPhone inside my home from the exact location where 18 months ago I had sufficient bandwidth to tether in case of Rogers Internet outages.

    89% slower than the rest of Canada at a pathetically slow 1.07 Mbps down, 0.21 Mbps up. Oh, and this is a good day because I was blessed with two bars of 3G instead of the usual Edge.

    Without moving the phone a cm I ran a second test, now with 1 bar of 3G and got “No Internet connection available.”

    Rebooted the app, ran a third test, 0.01 Mbps up, 0.00 Mbps down.

    Is Rogers still making the false claim that they have the most reliable network?

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