I settled in Canada (Montreal) back in 2005 – the first thing I installed in my apartment was a high speed internet connection from Bell, a major nationwide internet provider. Back then I had 5 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed with unlimited bandwidth and I was paying around $80. I thought it was good, until internet video became mainstream and I had to upgrade my connection, and so I did, twice, last time being last year, where I upgraded to 15 Mbps download / 10 Mbps upload with a bandwidth cap of 75 GB and for a cost of nearly $85. As you can see, the price has increased, and the service provided is lower (now I have a capped connection).
Now, back in the good days (early 2000′s), Canada was ranked one of the most advanced technological countries when it comes to the internet (and pretty much everything else) – fast forward to now, and Canada ranks #33 in the world when it comes to internet connection, just after Aland Islands, a country that may or may not exist in the real world. So, what happened?
I think what happened is that the government has given leeway to national ISPs and allowed them to determine how much bandwidth and speed we, as Canadians, should have. This might have been a wise decision, but not that wise if the choice of companies ranges from Bell to Rogers, which are corporate moguls that care only about the money, and not about advancing the technological infrastructure in the country.
So, why should the residents of Canada pay $10 for 100 MB 3G bandwidth? Why should the residents of Canada pay $80 for a relatively slow internet connection? Why should the residents of Canada settle for less when the infrastructure supports more?
I think the government has a few solutions to address this problem:
- Open the technological market to real competition: How about luring a Japanese/Finnish/Icelandic ISP to create some real competition? This will ensure that prices are lower and internet speed and bandwidth is higher for subscribers.
- Set technological standards each year: For example, create a law that in 2013, the minimum internet connection speed should be 50 Mbps and the minimum bandwidth should be 500 GB.
- Discourage alliances between major companies: Anyone who’s anyone in Canada knows that there is a secret (or not so-secret) alliance between the major companies to maintain the inflated price levels charged and the low service provided. If the government forbids such alliances, then I guess we can have a better service.
I think the future of the internet in Canada can be better if the government keeps those ISPs and mobile providers on their toes by adopting one or more of the above solutions. Until then, we have to tolerate those high monthly invoices and this terrible service.
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