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ISPs in Canada delivering faster Internet speeds than advertised, CRTC says

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has revealed based on a new study of broadband speeds in Canada that the internet service providers in the country are delivering faster Internet speeds than advertised.

Carried out in collaboration with SamKnows, a company specialising in measuring broadband, all major ISPs except Sasktel, and 4808 volunteers, the study to measure broadband performance in the country is first of its kind in Canada. The study found that download speed across all ISPs was consistent between peak and off-peak hours, with the majority of ISPs delivering speeds above their advertised rates, regardless of the access technology in use.

The project found that all access technologies met or exceeded the advertised download speed on average, demonstrating that the access technologies themselves are capable of supporting the advertised services. FTTH services delivered 121 per cent of advertised download speed during peak hours on average, with Cable/HFC services delivering an average of 105 per cent and DSL services 103 per cent.

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The study involved measuring broadband performance at customer levels using measurement devices, known as Whiteboxes. SamKnows deployed 4,808 Whiteboxes to Canadian consumers for the purposes of this project. The Whitebox is a consumer-grade device that is installed in a user’s home network between their home modem/router and their devices. The Whitebox’s core function is to measure the quality of the user’s Internet connection.

Data was collected from over 3,000 volunteers and to ensure that privacy of the volunteers is guaranteed, no information about their online activities was collected. The speeds that were measured for the project are the ones that are delivered to homes by the ISPs and not the speed that the consumers get in their homes. The primary reason behind not measuring in-home speeds are factors such as large number of devices used at the same time, faulty equipment and poor Wi-Fi connectivity may impact user performance.

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The results measured in Canada compare favourably to those measured in other countries, including the United States. The findings are in stark contrast to what is normally observed in other countries where the ISPs almost always either offer below advertised speeds or just meet with their promises.

CRTC says that the data collected through this project will enable them to better understand the Internet services being offered in the country as well as facilitate future broadband policy-making while also allowing ISPs to address broadband speed issues and better serve their customers.

The CRTC will be launching a second phase this fall, and will be working with Distributel, Nexicom, Primus, Teksavvy, VMedia, and Xplornet on top of the phase 1 ISPs for the phase 2 of the project.