Canada has fallen nine spots in one year on a global ranking of Internet speeds, as the country fell behind European and Asian countries in expanding its broadband infrastructure.
The latest report from the Akamai data network shows Canada tied with Hungary for 14th place among the world’s major Internet-using countries.
A year ago at this time, Canada was in a three-way tie with Sweden, Taiwan and the U.S. for fifth place in the survey. It is now in a two-way tie with Hungary for 14th place.
The average broadband download speed in Canada went from 5.0 Mbps in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 5.9 Mbps in the fourth quarter of 2011, but because other countries saw considerably larger increases in download speeds, the Canada's jump was not enough to maintain Canada’s position on the rankings.
Many observers have pointed to a relative lack of competition among Canadian Internet service providers for Canada’s lacklustre performance on the Internet in recent years. (The country once led the world in broadband penetration.)
However, recent growth among independent ISPs does not appear to have changed the downward trend in Canada’s rankings. Canada’s major ISPs, which own the physical Internet infrastructure, have put in place wholesale pricing structures that make it difficult if not impossible for resellers to offer faster speeds.
A recent CRTC ruling replaced the controversial usage-based billing model for ISPs with a capacity-based model, meaning small ISPs won't be forced to implement usage caps, but may result in higher retail prices for broadband.
The use of traffic throttling among some large ISPs also affects Canada’s rankings, as Akamai’s data is based on real-time monitoring of Internet traffic. After years of consumer anger, Bell Canada recently announced it is moving away from the use of traffic throttling.
That put pressure on Rogers, another major ISP, to stop using the practice as well. The CRTC, Canada’s telecom regulator, found last month that the company had violated regulations surrounding the use of traffic throttling.
As consumers have grown more aware of problems with Internet competition and download speeds, complaints about ISPs to the CRTC have soared.
Here are the 16 countries with the world’s fastest Internet speeds.