Canadian Bandwidth Woes Show Why Telecom Expense Management is Necessary

As far as Canadian ISPs are concerned, the OECD’s bandwidth figures are . . . less than complementary. This CBC story on broadband summarizes the issues. Canadians not only pay too much, but suffer from anti-competitive practices and an unwillingness to finish the job of bandwidth penetration. In short: the ISPs gouge consumers, but they’re too cheap to spend that money on providing better service. Trends like Bell’s “traffic shaping” policies make comparisons even worse. Canadians have to deal with one of the worst per megabit costs in the world – US$28.14, compared to Japan’s US$3.09.

It isn’t quite fair to compare Japan and Canada, however. Japan’s population density’s higher and it’s surface area is lower. That excuses much of the difference – but not all of it. For example, even though the per megabit price is far higher in Canada, there’s much less difference in the range of prices per package. In other words, basic broadband access costs about the same in both countries, but in Japan the money goes a long, long way. Part of the problem is that Canada’s stalled on finishing up its infrastructure.

These kind of comparisons become rather important once we think about business usage. The whole range of standard business Internet services (static IP addresses to reliable, high speed bandwidth requirements, etc.) immediately bump into Canada’s failing broadband development – and it doesn’t help that it’s hard to find out all of your options in an environment where there’s no reliable, central clearinghouse that tells you who the ISPs are and what they offer in a given area.

In our experience, it all boils down to the art of selecting the right service package. In Canada it’s a complex issue that depends on these factors:

  • Location: Service varies widely between regions. Is wireless broadband, DSL or cable right for your small business? Do you need a dedicated line instead? Your ability to get these, and what various ISPs will charge depends on region. For example, some providers may charge five times as much to service a particular area.
  • Base Provider: In Canada this boils down to “Bell or not?” Bell’s admitted to arbitrarily curbing traffic. It’s up to any savings planner to know about reselling details.
  • True Bandwidth: “Unlimited bandwidth” is often a misnomer. It’s our job to find out what this really means. Remember that hidden caps can put you on the hook for additional fees.

There’s more to it, but suffice to say that until Canada gets serious about improving its bandwidth again, our services will be as important as ever.