Canadian wireless network quality doesn’t match high prices

Speed and availability of LTE are “exceedingly average,” according to new report from OpenSignal.

smartphones, wireless network quality

Wireless Network Quality:

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For a while now, Canadian wireless operators have touted their networks as among the best in the world, a go-to rationalization for the high prices they charge.

A new study by U.K.-based analysis firm OpenSignal does much to rebuke that talking point. The survey, based on billions of user tests through the company’s app, looks at the quality, availability and speeds of wireless networks in more than 95 countries.

Canada’s wireless networks are nothing special, the study finds. As IT World Canada puts it in its coverage, Canada’s mobile networks are “exceedingly average compared to the rest of the world.”

In terms of 4G or LTE availability, Canada ranks in 10th place, covering 93.16 per cent of the population. South Korea is tops at 98.54 per cent, followed by Japan and Israel. Tenth isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.

Industry boosters will point out that the result is actually pretty good given Canada’s population density, but that’s a red herring we’ve dealt with before.

With 80 per cent of the population living within a few hours of the U.S. border, Canada’s effective density isn’t much different from many European countries. It’s also worth pointing out that Australia, which has a density even lower than Canada, ranks fourth in LTE availability at 94.6 per cent.

Overall network speeds are nothing to brag about either, with Canada placing 14th at 18.31 Megabits per second. South Korea again leads with 41.34 Mbps, followed by Australia and Hungary.

The OpenSignal study comes on the heels of a new CRTC report that reconfirmed what everybody already knew – that Canadian wireless prices are among the highest in the world.

In defending that poor result, spokespeople for Canadian carriers pointed to Canada’s relative performance to the United States as an indication that things really aren’t that bad here.

In the CRTC report, U.S. wireless prices did indeed come out higher than their Canadian counterparts in several usage categories. Canada is also better than the United States in both LTE availability and speed in the OpenSignal study, with the U.S. ranking 17th and 38th, respectively.

There are two ways to interpret the combined results. The optimistic way, which is how the likes of Bell, Rogers and Telus like to view the situation, is that Canadians are getting better network performance than Americans, at lower prices.

The other, more broad-minded view is that Canadians are getting poorer networks at much higher prices than people in many other developed countries.

I’ve pointed out numerous times before that when it comes to telecom services, the United States – where complaints about the lack of competition are even more numerous and vocal than in Canada – is no paragon to be looked up to.

When it comes to this stuff, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

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  1. Canada's telecom networks are mediocre: yet another report - AlphaBeatic

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