NEWS

Wireless speeds in Canada's big cities match U.S., U.K., study says

10/28/2014 12:47 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST
The mobile wireless networks in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have a speed and reliability that are "comparable to, or exceeds" that in U.S. and U.K. cities, a report says.

The report released Tuesday from Seattle-based mobile analytics firm RootMetrics was based on more than 71,000 data, call and text tests in Canada's three biggest cities. The company conducted both indoor and outdoor tests at different times of day and night of the networks of Bell, Telus and Rogers in all three cities, along with Wind in Toronto and Vancouver and Vidéotron in Montreal.

"The great news for Canadians is that we found tremendous performance across nearly every category we measure," said RootMetrics CEO and president Bill Moore in a statement. "Speeds were top-notch for the three national operators. But so were reliability, data, call, and texting performance. Consumers have several good options to deliver not just fast speeds but consistent network access."

The company also found that Quebec regional carrier Vidéotron in Montreal "performed as well as, or better than, the national operators in nearly every category."

Wind, on the other hand, lagged in both Toronto and Vancouver, with average download speeds just six per cent and five per cent of Rogers's speeds respectively. Unlike the other carriers, Wind has no high-speed LTE network and relies entirely on slower 3G technology.

The performance of each carrier did vary from city to city.

Bell, Telus slower in Vancouver

In Vancouver, the report noted, Bell and Telus were slower than in Toronto and Montreal, connecting mainly to slower 3G networks rather than the high-speed LTE networks. In Toronto, all three carriers performed well.

In Montreal, Bell had higher call performance than Rogers. However, the company recorded data download speeds of up to 47.3 megabits per second (Mbps) from Rogers — "the highest median download speed ever seen in any of the extensive RootMetrics testing across the U.S., U.K. or Canada," the company reported.

Rootmetrics added that it was able to connect to LTE more than 90 per cent of the time on the networks of all four carriers in Montreal.

A study released a year ago from PC Magazine also found that wireless speeds are faster in Canada than in the U.S. That study tested data uploads and downloads, but not call quality.

However, the magazine also found in September that Canadian wireless costs are among the highest in the world.

Telus suggested to Canada's telecommunications regulator in September that lower wireless prices lead to slower, less reliable networks.

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