Internet Service Providers in Canada

Internet Service Providers in Canada: a guide

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Internet Service Providers in Canada offer various different packages. This guide explains the main ones on offer to residential customers, and how to avoid paying charges you don’t have to.

The first thing to know is that residential internet packages in Canada cost more than in many other countries.

One reason for this is the sheer breadth of Canada. It costs a lot for internet service providers to maintain a network that operates in separate and far apart locations, and this cost is spread to users across the country.

It has also been suggested that Canada’s biggest internet service providers are using their internet customers to recoup falling revenue from their TV offering, as more and more customers ditch traditional cable TV.

So it’s important to make sure you get the best deal.

When you’re moving into an apartment, check which internet service providers are already operating on the premises. Some apartment buildings have special deals, and some tenant agreements will have internet already included in the cost.

Don’t spend more than you have to.

Newcomer to Canada?

You can also save yourself time and money by getting your travel insurance (which is mandatory for IEC visas) and resume arranged early. See our guides for more:

We also highly recommend you keep up-to-date with latest immigration developments – as anyone will tell you, changes happen regularly that can affect your move. Download our Getting Started Guide which will opt you in for free, relevant updates into your inbox.

Main internet service providers in Canada

Internet Service Providers in Canada

Bell, Rogers, Telus, and Shaw are among the bigger players offering packages.

Availability will depend on your location. For instance, Bell and Rogers are the big internet service providers in Ontario, while Shaw and Telus are the main players competing in western provinces.

Users in many discussion forums you’ll come across recommend Novus. However, they operate in very few locations. Their service is only available in certain apartment buildings in Vancouver.

TekSavvy is one of several internet service providers who largely depend on the infrastructure of its bigger competitors.

We’ve listed these six internet service providers and assessed their products. Read our advice first and keep it in mind when assessing the internet service providers available at your address.

Which internet service providers are best for me?

Internet Service Providers in Canada

There are a number of factors to consider, including download and upload speeds, data caps, and cost.

Don’t be shy about asking internet service providers for detail on these, and explaining to them how you typically use the internet. It’s their job to ensure you’re informed about the package you’re buying.

If there’s anything the person you’re speaking to seems unsure of, feel free to politely ask them to check with their support managers for an answer.

Download / upload speed

Any data that comes from the internet TO your device relies on your downloading stream to get there. The higher the speed, the faster this data is likely to get to your device.

You can get by with very little if you’re doing some light web browsing. Examples would be checking email, reading articles like those on Moving2Canada, and looking at some photos on Facebook from time to time.

Other activities require more data to be transferred. A common example would be video, and in particular, video that has a very clear picture.

Netflix, for instance, recommends download speeds of at least five megabits per second (Mbps) to watch HD video, and 25Mbps to watch Ultra HD (very high-quality) video.

Any data that goes to the internet FROM your device relies on your uploading stream to get there.

Every time you type in a web address, or search something on Google, you’re sending data from your device to the internet. These are relatively simple tasks that don’t require a very high upload speed.

More intense activities would be a Skype call, for example. When you’re streaming live imagery from your web camera to another web user, you’ll need a strong upload speed to send video that’s of a viewable quality.

Skype recommends an upload speed of at least 1.5Mbps.

Other issues to consider:

  • Your patience. Slower download / upload speeds means data will transfer more slowly. If you want web pages to load more quickly, then pay for a higher speed.
  • How many people / devices will be connecting to the internet? If you pay for a 10Mbps download speed, and six people are all connected to it at the same time, you’ll end up with some very slow internet indeed.
  • Will you be connecting over the wireless, WiFi connection, instead of directly to the modem with a cable? The advertised speeds apply to wired connections. Speeds weaken over WiFi, and deteriorate the further you go away from the router. You may need to pay a little extra to get yourself some wriggle room.

Data caps

Most internet service providers have a limit to how much data you can upload and download in any given month.

You will usually be able to check how much you’re using on an online tracker. If you’re otherwise happy with a package, but are concerned you might breach the data cap, it would be a good idea to trial it for a month, monitor your usage, and upgrade later if needs be.

Let’s say there are two of you in the house. You both watch Netflix and stream some live TV for an hour or two a night. You also look at Facebook, and check websites like Moving2Canada on your desktop and your phone. You both FaceTime for about two hours in total per week. It’s unlikely that you’ll exceed 200GB per month.

Internet Service Providers in Canada

Other factors to consider

It’s impossible to answer these factors conclusively in an article such as this, so don’t be shy about discussing these when you’re talking to internet service providers.

  • How big is your house/apartment? Will the wireless router they provide cover all areas? Have a look at where the wall outlet for internet service providers is located in your home and tell them whether it’s centrally located.
  • Is there a rental charge for the equipment? Some internet service providers will add a monthly fee for their modem.
  • Is their technical support good? WiFi operates on a range of signals, and in apartment blocks where lots of WiFi networks operate, these signals can sometimes interfere with each other. If you’re not technically proficient, you may need to give them a call, so ensure you go with internet service providers who are ready to help.
  • Is there a charge for technical support call-outs?
  • Are there any network problems in the area you should be aware of? Occasionally, internet service providers will have issues providing a full service to all customers in a particular area. It might occur at evenings, for example, when the majority of its users are all attempting to download lots of data at the same time. Find out before you buy. And if problems occur after you have service installed, talk to them about seeking refunds for loss of service, or taking your service elsewhere.
  • What extras are included in the cost? Of course, a good salesperson will tell you this without being asked, but lots of internet service providers in Canada include some nice extras in the cost. Be sure to make the most of your hard-earned loonie.

Packages and rates for internet service providers in Canada

Here are the residential packages offered by internet service providers in Canada. You’ll find details of the cost, download speeds, upload speeds, data usage caps, and promotional offers.

Shaw

Internet Service Providers in Canada - Shaw

All plans include rental of a WiFi modem and a trial of Shomi, Shaw’s TV and movie streaming service (similar to Netflix). McAfee Internet Security also comes included as anti-virus protection for your devices.

Perhaps its biggest selling point is Shaw Go WiFi, which is included in all plans. This allows you to connect for free on multiple devices to WiFi networks with up to 30Mbps download speeds in bars, restaurants, and other public premises all over the country.

Technical support is available 24/7, 365 days per year, over phone, email, web chat, and discussion forum.

You can get discounted rates if you bundle with other core services (e.g. TV, home phone), or sign up for a 24-month service agreement.

Telus

Internet Service Providers in Canada - Telus

Save $5 off all rates, including promos, when bundled with TV, home phone, or mobility. Unlimited data usage is available for an extra $15 per month when bundled with TV, or $30 without TV.

Norton Security Online comes included for two devices with all plans.

Technical support is available 24/7, 365 days per year, over phone, email, and web chat.

Bell

Internet Service Providers in Canada - Bell

$49.95 one-time activation fee applies. Modem rental and McAfee Security included. Unlimited data usage is available for an extra $10 per month when bundled with TV.

Technical support is available 24/7, 365 days per year, over phone, email, web chat, and discussion forum.

Rogers

Internet Service Providers in Canada - Rogers

Modem rental is included on all plans, except Internet 5 where modem rental is $8 per month extra. Data overage is $1.50/GB. Installation is $49.99, and activation is $14.95. Installation fee is waived for Ignite Gigabit.

All packages include Rogers Online Protection Basic security suite and Easy Connect software for parental controls and guest networks.

Technical support is available 24/7, 365 days per year, over phone, email, web chat, and discussion forum.

Discounts apply when bundled with TV or home phone, and if you bundle internet, TV, and home phone together on a two-year term, you receive guaranteed pricing.

Novus

Internet Service Providers in Canada - Novus

An option in the Metro Vancouver area. Installation is free, and there are no set-up or connection fees. There are no contracts either.

In some buildings where Novus operates, no hardware will be required – you can simply plug your internet device into the outlet on the wall. However, if you want a WiFi network, you’ll have to provide your own router. These can be bought at electrical shops.

You can get an additional 50GB of data usage for free on all plans by signing up to Novus’s newsletter.

Technical support lines are open weekdays from 7am–11pm, and on weekends and holidays from 8am–10pm.

TekSavvy

Internet Service Providers in Canada - TekSavvy

TekSavvy delivers internet over traditional phone lines (DSL) and cable networks. In some remote areas, it offers its ‘Sky Fi’ package.

The product range depends on your exact address, and the pricing varies from province to province. We’d have a very long list indeed if we tried to cover it all here, so your best bet is to explore its website and look at the range of products on offer.

The cheapest package we found was the ‘Cable 5’ package, which cost $25 per month.

Mobile internet

Bell and Rogers are among those offering services which receive signal over the 4G LTE network (which mobile phones use to connect to the internet) to deliver a WiFi network to your home.

They can be convenient if you are in a location where wired internet services are either impractical, or unavailable.

However, they tend to be more expensive than normal residential internet packages. They also usually have lower data usage caps.

Bell’s ‘Fixed Wireless Internet’ product, for instance, is $65 for 5Mbps download speeds, 1Mbps upload speeds and a usage cap of just 10GB per month. But in remote areas, this may be your only option.

What do you think?

Tell us your experiences with internet service providers in Canada, and help others come to a decision. Share your views on our Facebook page.

Remember: Make sure you keep up-to-date with latest immigration developments. Changes happen regularly that can affect your move. Download our Getting Started Guide to get free updates.

Moving2Canada Recruitment is now called Outpost Recruitment, which finds great jobs in Canada for suitable candidates. Since 2012, we’ve helped people get work across civil, infrastructure, and buildings projects.

Learn more about the change, and visit Outpost Recruitment for job postings.

 

Disclaimer: all internet service providers in Canada prices and information accurate at time of publication. These details may have changed since.

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