Canada’s Internet

As noted in the previous ranking, Canada continues to be among the most wired countries in the world with an 88 per cent penetration rate in 2015. As many in Europe and across the G8 deploy more fibre and mobile options, however, Canada experienced a drop in international rankings.

Canada’s connectivity at a glance:

This is a simple data table
Connectivity Type Quantity

Source: International Telecommunications Union

Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 44%
Mobile-cellular telephone subsriptions per 100 inhabitants 82%
International Internet bandwidth per Internet user 135,496
Percentage of households with a computer 85%
Percentage of households with Internet access 87%
Percentage of individuals using the Internet 88%
Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 36
Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 56

Mobile broadband penetration

Chart showing data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that show Canada ranking 28 in terms of mobile penetration.

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Mobile prices in Canada are notoriously expensive and recent OECD data shows that Canada lags behind most of its OECD counterparts in terms of mobile broadband penetration (28th position).

Understanding Canada’s digital divide

Canada is one of the most connected countries on the planet, but connectivity within Canada is not equally dispersed. There are several persisting divides that exist across the country.

In April of 2016 CIRA released the first report from the newly launched Internet Performance Test, a crowdsourced set of data on Canada’s Internet performance.

After collecting over 100,000 tests the program reported an average download speed of 18.86 Mbps and an average upload speed of 7.26 Mbps.

The data also showed a disparity between urban and rural connectivity.

The data also showed a disparity between urban and rural connectivity
Region Download speed
(average Mbps)*
Upload speed
(average Mbps)*

*Data is from April 2016. It is important to note that since this data is crowdsourced, it includes only users with some connection speed and the distribution of the sample is not perfectly random.

National 18.86 7.26
Urban 19.80 7.66
Rural 14.81 5.96

In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) held a marathon set of public hearings with a mandate to review what constitutes basic telecommunications services, understanding that “reliable, affordable and modern telecommunications services are now important for daily activities, such as health care, banking, education and government services.”

The Government of Canada has earmarked $500 million over five years to implement a national broadband strategy, indicating that it will prioritize underserviced parts of the country.

Broadband availability at a glance

Placeholder caption
Download speed (Mbps) Large population centers Medium population centres Small population centres Rural areas HSPA+ and LTE

Source: Industry Canada and CRTC data collection

1.5-4.9 100% 100% 100% 87% 11%
5-9.9 100% 100% 99% 75% 11%
10-15.9 99% 98% 93% 37% 0%
16-24.9 99% 98% 88% 32% 0%
25-29.9 99% 97% 83% 29% 0%
30-49.9 99% 96% 80% 28% 0%
50-99.9 97% 95% 73% 26% 0%
100+ 96% 93% 69% 25% 0%

Small population centres: 1,000 and 29,000.
Medium population centres: 30,000 and 99,999
Large population centres: greater than 100,000
Rural areas: less than 1,000 or fewer than 400 people per square kilometre.

CRTC data for 2014 shows that broadband speeds of up to 5Mbps are available universally in urban centres. Just 87 per cent of Canadians in rural areas have the same access. At higher speeds, the discrepancy in access is more pronounced. All urban dwellers have access to up to 10 Mbps download speeds, but just 75 per cent of rural occupants have the same access. In cities, 96 per cent of users have access to speeds of 100Mbps, while only one quarter of rural users have this option.

Importance of high-quality/ high-speed Internet

Chart showing that 95 per cent of Canadian Internet users say that high-quality Internet is important. 91 per cent of Internet users say that high-speed Internet is important.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Canadians place a high-value on their Internet connection’s speed and performance, with near universal agreement that Internet quality and performance were important.

Three quarters (73%) of Canadians would go as far as to say that they would be unlikely to purchase a home that does not have access to high speed Internet, with more than half (54%) saying that they would be “very unlikely” to do so.

Would you purchase a home without access to high-speed Internet?

11% are likely to buy

73% are unlikely to by

Annual growth of fibre subscriptions, June 2014 to June 2015

Chart showing that Canada ranks tenth in terms of annual growth in fibre subscriptions.

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

There is some indication that users would like to see more competitive rates. Only half of Canadians feel they are getting good value for money from their monthly Internet service packages. The majority (62%) say they would consider switching Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Despite this, among Canadians who are aware of their data packages, 78 per cent are satisfied with the service they receive.

Canadians pay among the highest rates in the OECD for mobile broadband

Canadians’ satisfaction with home Internet connection speed and bandwidth

Chart showing CIRA data on customer satisfaction with their Internet Speed and bandwidth.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Canadian Internet users are generally satisfied with Internet connection speeds in their homes. More than 80 per cent of those surveyed said they’re satisfied, although just 34 per cent claim to be very satisfied with connection speeds.

Over three-quarters (78%) are satisfied with Internet bandwidth included in their home package and half are ‘very satisfied’ with the amount of data.