The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is looking for volunteers to participate in a project to measure the performance of home broadband internet services offered by 10 internet service providers partnering in the project.
It says the results will tell Canadians their "actual connection speeds" and whether the services are "delivering speeds as advertised." The data could also help the CRTC improve its broadband policy-making, it said in a news release.
The measurements will be conducted by SamKnows, a company that specializes in testing broadband speeds.
Up to 6,200 participants will receive a device called a Whitebox that they can connect to their modem or router. The device periodically measure the speed of their internet connection while it isn't actively in use.
Participating internet providers include:- Bell.
- Bell Aliant.
- MTS Allstream.
A 2013 study by the Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre found that most Canadians think they can expect to receive the maximum speed advertised for the internet package they subscribe to. However, the study also found that internet service providers didn't know what speeds customers actually get and there was some evidence that the maximum speeds customers get are lower than advertised.
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.
'Great news for consumers'
Robert Goodman, senior director of internet for Rogers Communications, says the CRTC project is "great news for consumers."
"Canadians deserve the internet speeds they pay for and more transparency means they can make more informed choices," Goodman said in a statement. He added that Rogers has been hiring SamKnows to test its internet speeds for three years, and has urged its competitors to do that too.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which manages the .ca domain, already has an internet speed-testing project underway to gauge internet performance across the country. Canadians can run the test anonymously by visiting a website the organization has set up.
As of today, more than 30,000 tests had been run, said Ryan Saxby Hill, communications manager for CIRA.
Hill said the CRTC approach allows it to have more control over demographics of the participants and the statistics it collects, but the two studies are complementary.
"We can't wait to compare the results," he said in an email. "There's no one best way to measure internet performance, so we're pleased that researchers and analysts will have access to multiple new data points going forward."
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