[Chronique d’Alain McKenna] Canada, the global idiot of the Internet at home

Without addressing the astronomical cost of the wireless connection, Canada has a bad price for the high monthly cost of its high-speed Internet for the home. Compared to other OECD countries, the Canadian home Internet is the second most expensive, with a quality of service that ranks only twelfth. And it won’t improve in the short term …

In early March, the British price comparison service Uswitch compared the average monthly cost paid by consumers living in the 38 OECD member countries. He then highlighted the most recent data available to this international organization on the average per capita income of each of these 38 markets.

Result: To access high-speed cable Internet in Canada, you have to pay an average of about $ 95 a month. With an average per capita income of nearly $ 4,000 a month, this means that every month, the average Canadian consumer spends 2.4% of their budget on their Internet connection.

From that angle, it’s not that bad. But when we compare … we find that consumers living in 32 other OECD countries spend proportionately less on their own Internet. The five consumers who need to spend more of their budget on the Internet live in Greece, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

Uswitch concludes, therefore, that Canada ranks sixth among OECD countries where the Internet is the most expensive each month. But looking at the numbers from a different angle, one can draw a completely different conclusion: because in the OECD, it is only in Norway where the price that consumers pay each month for Internet access ($ 100) is higher. higher than in Canada.

Therefore, it can be argued that the Canadian Internet was in early March the second most expensive among the 38 markets compared by Uswitch.

Not too fast! Because at the same time, the English comparator compared the average time required in each of these same 38 countries to download a 1.5 gigabyte video file as established by the specialized online service Speedtest.

And there, too, Canada does not shine for the quality of its results. It’s 12 o’clocki Faster Internet Range It takes an average of 2 minutes in the country to download this famous video file, which, in a 4K format typical of movies that can be rented these days on subscription platforms, is equivalent to a 4-minute sequence. Norway, the only country where the home Internet costs more than Canada, reaches 8i rank.

Paying more than 37 countries out of 38 for an Internet service whose quality ranks only twelfth is not exactly very encouraging news for the Canadian consumer. In fact, we do not run the risk of advancing on too thin an ice by claiming, based on Uswitch data, that Canada is arguably the global fool on the residential Internet.

Pay twice?

That’s not all. Because the cost of the home Internet for the average Canadian consumer is actually much higher than what appears at the bottom of their monthly bill.

Between 2016 and 2021, the federal government has invested $ 2.3 billion in various programs to accelerate the expansion of high-speed Internet networks by private providers to encourage them to connect rural communities and areas. further away from the large centers. In Quebec, the Legault government promised last November, with a total investment of $ 1.3 billion, to guarantee access to all high-speed homes in Quebec before the end of the fall of 2022.

To explain the high cost of access to their networks, the providers explain that the deployment of the infrastructure is in itself very expensive, given the extent of Canadian territory. The aid provided by the two levels of government in recent months should normally reduce these costs and therefore provide a more affordable service to its customers. Or at the same price, you should ensure that your networks achieve first-class quality of service.

But right now, Canadian consumers don’t get either. The data shared by Uswitch indicates that the Canadian Internet is, at best, of very average quality, albeit to the fullest. Enough to widen this digital abyss that governments are trying to close with their billions of dollars, laments Canadian OpenMedia spokesman Matt Hatfield.

“Thousands of households can’t afford internet at home. Many young people in Montreal and Toronto have to go to the local library to do their homework or to attend their distance learning courses. The Canadian economy is suffering. This is a very serious problem at all levels. »

OpenMedia has been criticizing the lack of competition in the Canadian telecommunications market for years and lacks some suggestions to correct the problem, apart from directly asking us to get rid of the CRTC, the federal agency that nevertheless has to regulate this problem. industry. “We no longer have any confidence in the CRTC. “Because it will not improve in the short term,” warns Matt Hatfield. “The acquisition of Ebox by Bell and the government’s approval of Rogers’ takeover of the west by Shaw will do nothing to improve the situation. On the contrary, there was already too little competition. , and there will be even fewer. ”

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