If Martians invaded the Earth, they would find a veritable constellation of choice in Canada. A wide range of broadband bargains are available: some deals offer good value and performance; other deals, not so much. In general terms, the best place to be an Internet consumer is Western Canada. Both Telus (at the low end of the broadband speed continuum) and Shaw (especially at the high end) offer broadband services that other Canadians should envy – indeed, service offerings from these two companies are the best in North America. Québec, too, is a good place to be a broadband consumer, as Vidéotron's offering is nearly as speedy as Shaw's; the only drawback, to our mind, is Vidéotron's modest bandwidth throughput cap.
But Martians beware: Ontario is a black hole on Canada's broadband map. The plans in this province tend to be expensive, the speeds relatively slow, and the monthly throughputs restrictive.
Leaving the Martian allegory aside for a moment, the underlying question is an interesting one: if net-connected citizens could live anywhere – if borders, passports, currency, jobs, family, friends and all the other stuff that goes into one's life were not an issue – where would they find the best mix of broadband rates, speeds, caps and prices? Does the "best" provider (or "best" country, for that matter) change for different types of users who may place different values on certain aspects of their broadband connection, such as speed or price? We ask the question: how does Canada stack up?
The body of this report will present our findings in some detail. We looked at broadband services from 60 providers in 30 countries. We used published prices, and we studied performance characteristics and limits. Then, we shopped for plans that met the needs of our profiled users: Average Users and Broadband Warriors.