Internet in Canada
Frequently asked questions
The main types of Internet connections in Canada are DSL, Cable, Fiber optic, Fixed wireless, and Satellite. Note that you may not always be able to choose your type of Internet connection due to your location and your home’s infrastructure. However, if you live in an urban area where there are many to select from, refer to the chart below to determine which one is best for you!
Type of connection
How it works and who it’s good for
DSL Internet uses phone lines to transmit signals. As most buildings have phone lines, you won’t need to worry about a complex installation process. DSL speeds can usually reach a maximum of 100 Mbps and are suitable for the typical household.
Cable Internet uses cable lines that are also used for cable TV. As most buildings have cable lines, you won’t need to worry about a complex installation process. Cable Internet speeds can reach as high as 1000 Mbps, making it useful for mild to heavy Internet users. Cable Internet is typically more expensive than DSL Internet.
Fiber optic Internet uses tiny cables made of glass or plastic to transmit signals at nearly the speed of light. It is the connection that can offer the fastest speeds of up to 2000 Mbps. As fiber optic Internet is recent, installation and monthly plans can get quite costly. It is useful for heavy Internet users that require ultra-fast speeds.
Fixed wireless Internet uses radio signals to transmit data. It is useful for remote rural residents and requires an antenna to be installed on your roof. It is known to be more expensive than satellite Internet, yet faster and with less latency (lag/delay).
Satellite Internet uses satellite dishes to transmit data to and from satellites in space. It is also convenient for remote rural residents and is known to be slower than fixed wireless Internet due to the long distance between the satellite and space.
Determining what Internet speed you require for your household can be tricky. You may be wondering the following questions. Is 50 Mbps fast enough? What is a good Internet speed?
The chart below will help you know what’s best based on your lifestyle and type of household.
Before doing this, you may want to test your Internet speed.
Good for what
Good for who
5 – 10 Mbps
• Checking emails
• Listening to music
• Minimal Internet users
• People living alone
10 – 40 Mbps
• Online assignments
• Social media
• Casual Internet users
• Children and teens
40 – 100 Mbps
• Video calls
• Working from home
• Online classes
• People working from home
• Families (4 people)
100 – 500 Mbps
• Video calls
• Big families (5+ people)
500 – 1000 Mbps
• Heavy gaming
• Commercial Internet
• Heavy gamers
• Heavy streamers
Note that the type of mobile device you use (whether it is newer or not) along with the type of connection (Cable, DSL, Fiber, Satellite, Wireless) may impact the Wi-Fi speed.
Where you live can absolutely impact your Internet speed. Depending on how near you are to your network’s closest infrastructure (data center or cell tower), the speed may be impacted.
If you live in a rural area, you’ll have less access to high-speed Internet connections like cable, fiber optic, and DSL. You may then have to use satellite Internet, in which transmission times are slower to the satellites in space, decreasing your Internet speed.
The types of walls you have (brick, concrete, metal) may also make the signal weaker.
Most importantly, if there are many households in your neighborhood connected to the same network, your speeds may decrease. This is especially true during times of the day when most people are at home (evenings).
Whether you require unlimited Internet is going to depend on a few factors, such as the number of people in your household and the way you use the Internet.
In Canada, the average home data usage was 394.4 GB downloaded monthly in 2022.
Working from home
(Social media, emails)
Streaming services (Netflix, IPTV…)
8 GB – 20 GB /daily
30 GB – 50 GB /hr
1 – 3 GB /hr
40 GB – 300 GB /hr
If you live alone and only use the Internet for basic activities like browsing the web, sending emails or going on social media, an unlimited Internet plan would not be convenient for you budget wise.
Unlimited Internet would be more advantageous for families who connect many devices at the same time or gamers who stream a lot. Activities like gaming or video conferencing do not require a lot of data on their own. Yet, if multiple people are trying to download at the same time, or they are being used for many hours daily, a lot of GB will be used up.
Many Internet providers across Canada allow you to use your own modem or router for some of their plans. Yet, whether you should do so or not will depend on what your needs are long term.
Router and modem rental fees are either included in the price or cost between $10 – $15 each per month.
It is common for people who are looking for a better Internet connection or want to save money to buy their own modem and/or router. The advantage is that it lowers your monthly bill since you are not renting the devices from your provider. Another advantage is that if your provider’s modem and router are of basic quality, buying your own can allow you to have a better connection.
It is uncommon for people who do not require a high-speed Internet connection to buy their own router and modem. Technically, the ones you rent from the provider should be the most compatible if you’re in need of lower speeds (5 – 40 Mbps).
In addition, the advantage of renting a router and a modem is that it comes with the technical support and all the upgrades. If you buy your own, the company won’t be responsible for any technical issues or if the router or modem breaks. However, if you rent them from your provider, you get additional services.
The CRTC mandates that all Internet services in Canada can be cancelled at any time. However, there may be an early cancellation fee, depending on the terms of your contract.
The early cancellation fee will depend on the type of service provided, but it should not exceed the value of the device subsidy. In addition, the early cancellation fee should be lowered each month to attain $0 at the end of the contract period. Meaning that the closer you are to the end of the contract period, the lower the early cancellation fee should be.
Important: If you are renting any devices from the provider like modems or routers, look at what the terms and conditions are to return them. Fees may be applied to these as well.
The Connecting families project is a governmental initiative to bring high speed Internet services to low-income families and seniors. With this project, low-income families will benefit from 50/10 Mbps Internet for $20 a month. In total, 14 Internet service providers have partnered with the government for this project, including big names like Bell, Roger, Videotron and TELUS.
Only the people who are eligible will automatically receive a letter from the government with the access code. You cannot apply yourself. If you did not receive the letter, you cannot access this benefit. You can, however, contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for more information.
Once you have received the letter with the code, you can sign up for the service on the Connecting Families online portal.
Households eligible for this program include families and low-income seniors who already receive the maximum amount of government assistance (Canada Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income supplement, respectively).
The CRTC or Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises the telecommunications services in Canada on behalf of the public.
The CRTC does indeed regulate Internet in Canada. Their roles include providing broadcasting licenses to providers in Canada as well as international ones who offer services to Canadians.
They also regulate by making sure the companies are in compliance with the regulations. The CRTC makes ownership decisions, approves tariffs and encourages competition to ensure a healthy market where Canadians have a choice between a variety of providers and services.
They collaborate with the public to provide information, but also to gather information from telecommunications users. They hold discussions, forums, and hearings to hear what the Canadians think of the services in order to make the right decisions.
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