Internet speed tests conducted across Canada last year reveal how a quality Internet service remains a pipe dream for many, including the people of Hamilton.
A Local News Data Hub analysis of testing in 53 communities across Canada found that in 51 locations, including Hamilton, the majority of speed test results did not meet basic service targets for upload and download set by Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
The commission says Canadian households should have Internet connections with access to broadband speeds of at least 50 megabits per second for downloads and 10 Mbps for downloads.
Of the 2,423 tests performed in 2020 by Internet users in Hamilton, however, only 24% met the CRTC’s minimum upload and download service targets. The median download speed, meanwhile, was 28.0 Mbps, and the median download speed was 8.41 Mbps. (The median is the median value between the top half and bottom half of a range of numbers.)
The CRTC says 87.4 percent of households in Canada can access speeds of at least 50/10 mbps, but that figure drops to 45.6 percent in rural areas. Higher download speeds allow users to retrieve online content such as web pages, videos, files, or music faster. Download speed determines the speed at which images, music, and documents can be downloaded and shared.
The Local News Data Hub, launched in January by the Local News Research Project at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism, analyzed the results of 68,813 tests that Internet users took last year using a performance test administered by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. CIRA, a national nonprofit that promotes trust in the internet, launched the test in 2015, and since then people who want to determine their connection speed have taken nearly a million tests.
While CIRA’s test results are not necessarily representative of all Internet services in a community, they highlight the challenges many Canadians faced in a pandemic year in which fast and reliable Internet service. was a lifeline.
In Milton, Ont., A suburban community of over 110,000 people just west of Toronto, only 13 percent of CIRA’s tests met the CRTC’s targets for upload and download speeds. In Regina, Saskatchewan, where the median download speed for all tests performed was 23.555 Mbps and the median download speed of 6.685 Mbps, only 23 percent of the tests met the standard.
Data Hub analysis also showed that even though median speeds exceeded CRTC standards in some major cities, poor test results still indicated problems with access to good quality internet. In Toronto, for example, the median download speed was 55.46 Mbps and the median download speed was 12.74 Mbps. However, only 42 percent of speed tests met or exceeded the CRTC’s baseline standard.
Factors that can affect upload and download speeds include the make and model of the device being used, whether other apps are running in the background, and whether other devices are online at the same time. The type of service purchased from Internet service providers is also a factor. Details of service provider contracts submitted with 11,385 tests, however, showed these users were not getting what they paid for. A comparison of contract details with test results showed that contracted upload and download speeds were only delivered nine percent of the time.
A Burlington, Ont., Tester with about 183,000 people said he bought a download speed of 350 Mbps and a download speed of 30 Mbps. But in comments to CIRA, the tester said it was impossible “even to connect to a Zoom meeting due to poor internet speed despite purchasing the higher plans.” The test results for this user’s location documented a download speed of 27.42 Mbps and a download speed of 6.27 Mbps. Both are well below the CRTC’s 50/10 service targets.
Another customer from Huntsville, Ont., Reported paying $ 200 per month for 70/10 service. The client’s CIRA test, however, recorded a download speed of 5.52 Mbps and a disappointing download speed of 0.07 Mbps. “NO OTHER OPTIONS. Cannot work or study at home,” the tester wrote in CIRA’s comments section.
Only Surrey, BC and Quebec exceeded CRTC standards
Testing in communities of less than 50,000 people fell significantly below the CRTC’s 50/10 standard. The best test scores among these smaller places were in Bracebridge, Ont., But they didn’t have much to brag about: just 23 percent of all tests met or exceeded both CRTC performance standards, the median download speed was 15.56 Mbps and the median download speed was 1.53 Mbps.
âInternet performance in rural and remote areas has essentially stabilized during the pandemic …
Surrey, BC and Quebec were the only places where 50 percent or more of test results exceeded CRTC standards. Compared to what happened elsewhere, Internet testers in Surrey were experiencing a whole different connectivity reality: 55% of tests in suburban Vancouver met or exceeded the CRTC’s 50/10 performance targets. The median download speed was 82.61 Mbps, while the median download speed was 20.09 Mbps.
In Quebec City, half of all tests met or exceeded the CRTC standard. The median download speed was 54.17 Mbps and the median download speed was 11.36 Mbps.
In emailed statements, Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, two of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, both pointed to a CRTC study released last September which concluded that the majority of Canadian Internet service providers are meeting or exceeding prices. maximum advertised download and upload speeds.
Nathan Gibson, a spokesperson for Bell, said in his email that it is “difficult for us to offer a specific comment on your datasets without seeing them.” (CIRA officials have said the detailed test results are proprietary, but they are ready to share them with the Local News Data Hub on the condition that only the scan results are released.)
The maximum speeds for each Internet tier that we offer are advertised as âup toâ as many factors can affect a customer’s actual speeds.– Rogers statement
Gibson added, however, that the CRTC expects 90 percent of Canadians to have access to 50/10 Mbps by the end of this year.
âProviding broadband to the remaining 10% in a country as large as Canada is a challenge,â he wrote, âbut Bell is leading the way in accelerating the roll-out of our residential and rural fiber wireless Internet networks. . “
In its response, Rogers said the company “is committed to providing reliable Internet service to more rural, remote and indigenous communities.” The advertised speeds, according to the release, “reflect the total speed to the house to support multiple devices online at the same time. The maximum speeds for each Internet level that we offer are advertised as” up to “because many factors can affect the actual speeds of a customer experience. “
The federal government has created a $ 2.75 billion universal broadband fund to extend 50/10 Mbps Internet service to rural and remote communities. The CRTC, meanwhile, is raising $ 750 million from major Canadian telecommunications service providers for a broadband fund to improve broadband Internet access in underserved areas.
The Data Hub analysis only included the 53 communities with at least 500 test results. In cases where less than 40 tests were performed from a single location during the year, the results of each test were included in the analysis. In some cases, however, dozens or even hundreds of tests have been performed from one location. To prevent these âsuper testerâ locations from skewing the data, each is represented in the data as a single test result reflecting the median upload and download speeds for all tests from that location. This means that ultimately the results of 68,813 tests performed at 26,677 test sites were used in the analysis.
This story was produced by the Local News Data Hub, a project of the Local News Research Project at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University. The Canadian Press is an operational partner of the initiative. Detailed information on the data and methodology can be found here: https://localnewsdatahub.ca/2021/08/how-we-did-it-internet-speed-story-methodology/