BUSINESS

Canada's Internet Performance On Trial With Public's Help

05/18/2015 10:22 EDT | Updated 05/18/2016 05:59 EDT
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The people behind the .ca domain are asking Canadians to test their internet connection speed as part of a crowdsourcing project to gauge the health and performance of the country's internet.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) hopes to get "a very diverse, broad and fulsome picture of all Canadians' internet performance," Byron Holland, the organization's president and CEO, says in an upcoming interview on Spark with Nora Young.

The company wants people everywhere in Canada to log on and run the test. After clicking one button, people will be shown data including their upload and download speeds.

There are other tests to determine internet speed, but those tend to assume perfect conditions. This one will find the "real world speed" of someone's internet connection, Holland says. 

He compares internet speed to a vehicle's fuel consumption. "You see what's on that window sticker and that gives you the optimum mileage that that car could ever achieve in perfect conditions," he says. "Whereas, out in the real world, we all know that mileage may vary."

A number of things can interfere with optimal internet speed, such as a user's connection to their internet service provider, congestion in their neighbourhood, or network bottlenecks experienced at various points through the path the user's data follows.

The internet authority developed the program to get "the real facts" on Canada's internet situation, Holland says. It will provide unbiased, neutral data.

Participants can see results

Anyone who runs the test will receive their data, but the organization will also collect 100 different data points about internet connections that will be shared with researchers and others to help judge the health and performance of Canada's internet landscape. The data is anonymously collected, according to the authority.

It will also map all the data so everyone who runs the tests will see how their performance compares with others in their neighbourhood.

It's an important project because "the health and performance of a country's internet is really its digital currency," he says.

"Like the currency of a country, our digital currency needs to be strong and robust in order to create that climate that breeds innovation, success, enhanced communication — all of those things that we associate with a robust technology community are, in a sense, all based on healthy performance at reasonable cost of the underlying internet."

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