Category Archives: internet

Canada’s third-world upload speeds visualized

canada-uploadsIt’s more fun with maps today as we visualize Canada’s broadband upload speeds, which is perhaps a timely effort given that rural and remote infrastructure will be part of the federal government’s budget announcement on Tuesday. In the map above, I’ve matched the average upload speed that internet users receive in each province or territory with the corresponding average upload speeds of individual countries. All of the numbers come from Ookla’s Net Index, which ranks Canada’s national upload speed average of 5.2 Megabits per second poorly at 53rd overall. That’s below the the global average of 7.5 Mbps and the G8 average of 8.7 Mbps. As the map above indicates, Canada is very much a developing country when it comes to upload speeds. Upload capability is important for everything from cloud services to sharing photos and videos on Facebook and YouTube. In the remote parts of northern Canada, poor upload speeds essentially mean that business simply isn’t happening on the internet.


Posted by on February 10, 2014 in internet


Mapping Canada’s internet speeds

net-speeds-canadaA really quick post today – just the above image, actually, which is part of something bigger I’m working on. Students of geography will recognize this as a map of Canada; I’ve added in average download and upload speeds from Ookla’s Net Index. On its own, it’s an interesting snapshot of what kinds of speeds Canadians are experiencing around the country. More on this soon…

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in internet


It’s 2014: Why is hotel wi-fi still so terrible?

    Novotel St. Kilda in Melbourne has some of the worst wi-fi in the world, according to Nearly $30 a day, with a data cap and throttling if it's exceeded.

The Novotel St. Kilda in Melbourne, Australia has some of the worst wi-fi in the world, according to Nearly $30 a day, with a data cap and throttling if it’s exceeded.

If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel, you probably know that hotel wi-fi is uniformly atrocious despite sometimes costing a relative arm and a leg. Last month during the Consumer Electronics Show, for example, I stayed at a hotel on the Las Vegas strip where my connection topped out at 256 Kilobits per second. That’s right – kilobits. In 2014. And that’s despite paying a “resort fee” of $19.99. I travel a lot and I only wish I could say that was unusual. Unfortunately, it’s commonplace.

West-coast news site Marketplace recently touched on the issue, asking why some luxury hotels charge for wi-fi while more down-market chains don’t. The simple answer is because they can, but it really has more to do with price sensitivity.

“The type of people that are going to be staying [at a luxury hotel] are typically there on business, which generally means that someone else is paying for it,” says one expert. “A $20 fee on a $400 room… is probably not a big deal when they’re paying $400 for a room,” says another. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 3, 2014 in internet


Big Data is illuminating the murky world of porn

Lisa Ann is apparently the most popular porn store in the world, according Pornhub searches.

Lisa Ann is apparently the most popular porn star in the world, according to Pornhub searches.

We hear a lot about Big Data, but we don’t usually get many easy-to-relate-to examples of it. Well, look no further: it’s the porn world to the rescue.

Montreal-based Pornhub recently released some thoroughly engrossing statistics about online porn consumption in a number of countries, including Canada. As one of the biggest websites in the world – it generally ranks around the 75th most trafficked according to Alexa, which is more than the Huffington Post, Netflix or even the Pirate Bay – Pornhub is privy to a lot of revealing information, and we’re not even talking about the thousands of free sex videos it hosts.

The folks behind the site have insights on things like what days and months are most popular for porn consumption, who is searching for what, and how… er, long certain people last. According to the site’s blog – which, unlike its main site, is perfectly safe to view at work – Americans and Canadians apparently last the longest, spending about 10 minutes on the site, versus people in Brazil and Japan, who typically tap out around seven minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in internet, sex


A Christmas wish: the internet for all

santa-on-computerWhat do I want for Christmas? That’s an easy one: the ability to identify fishing birds. Not just for me, but for everyone.

My wife and I were on a Caribbean cruise last week – our first ever, which meant the whole experience was new to us. The most novel part, to me at least, was spending several days without internet access. It was available through ship-board wi-fi, but at $29 for 45 minutes of slow satellite connectivity, it simply wasn’t worth it. It was the first time in years I can remember going for more than a few days without, making our cruise something of the truest vacation I’ve had in ages.

The situation was similar in our two Mexican ports of call. With wireless roaming even more expensive than satellite access, we left our phones off. It was only when we found a beach resort in Cozumel with free wi-fi that we were ably to briefly jump online and catch up on what was going on in the world. Over all, the break was kind of nice.

However, it was in Progreso, an unremarkable city on the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, where I really felt the strange disconnection. My wife remarked at the large birds dive-bombing fish in the water, believing them to be pelicans. I was fairly sure they were kingfishers and instinctively reached for my phone to check, before realizing we were on our own. There would be no internet to confirm one way or the other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in internet


Canada Post, CBC could team on Poutine Mobile

Wouldn't you rather get cellphone service from this person?

Wouldn’t you rather get cellphone service from this person?

I have to admit to being as shocked as anyone with Wednesday’s announcement that Canada Post will be discontinuing door-to-door delivery starting in the second half of next year. The postal service will instead require people to pick up their mail from community mailboxes, with nation-wide conversion to be completed by 2019.

At first, it seemed like a step backwards in time, reminiscent of the shared party phone lines of the 1950s (not that I was there, but I read). But on second take, it makes sense and might even be a good thing. The majority of physical mail that most people get these days is probably annoying junk flyers, so this could actually help with that. People also generally expect important stuff, meaning it comes by courier or isn’t too much of a hassle to pick up. As Kate Wilkinson at Canadian Business points out, the coming costs savings could make the postal service more efficient, allowing it to focus on other potential money-making ventures.

It seems like a few stars are indeed converging. If a newly modernized Canada Post is going to be looking at new ways to make money, why not start with that old adage, where if you can’t beat ’em, you join ’em? If it’s really the internet that is killing the postal service, why doesn’t the postal office get into providing internet service? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 12, 2013 in cbc, internet, media, mobile


Canadian broadband slow, expensive: Ookla


This picture will make sense by the end of the post.

The folks at Ookla have released their latest Net Index broadband comparisons, so we all know what that means: it’s time for Fun With Charts (patent pending)! It’s also time for bad news for Canada, which is something that anyone who follows this stuff should be used to by now. But first, a note on Ookla’s methodology.

The Seattle-based company bills its results as more accurate than similar reports because of the billions of tests it has accumulated from broadband users around the world. While other organizations such as Akamai measure the speed and quality of content traveling across internet connections, Ookla says its methods are more fulsome. From its website:

Our download speed results tend to report higher than others for one very simple reason: We use a sophisticated method to completely ‘fill the pipe’ while others do a mere basic replication of what speeds you might see if you download a large file from a web site. This inferior method fails to take into account that even a single computer can and usually is performing multiple downloads of one type or another simultaneously, not to mention that many connections have more than one computer or device utilizing the bandwidth available.

Personally, I’m a fan of Ookla’s various measuring tools. The first thing I do when trying a new wi-fi connection is fire up its Speedtest app to get an idea of what I’m dealing with (I’m a nerd that way). Are its results better than others? That’s hard to say, but as a frequent user I’m inclined to respect them.

So, let’s start with the lone bit of good news for Canadians. According to the Net Index, broadband subscribers here are generally getting what they pay for. Canada ranks 24th out of 64 countries, with 94 per cent of connections getting their promised speed – that’s comfortably above the world average of 87 per cent. But Canada looks even better when compared to peer countries. Among the 32 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development measured, it ranks ninth. Among the six G7 nations represented, Canada is first, although both Japan and South Korea are strangely missing from all but the straight-up speed measures. Check out the chart: Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 3, 2013 in internet