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Are you shopping for a new internet service provider? Have you moved to another city or province and need fast internet and cable services?
In some parts of Canada, trying to pick the best internet provider is overwhelming because of the competition. But in a lot of it, particularly in remote rural regions, the options can be limited and underwhelming.
This guide will help you pick an internet service provider, know what questions to ask and make an informed decision.
What you need to know: home internet plans
- There are hundreds of ISPs in Canada
- They offer a variety of connection types: fibre, DSL, cable and satellite
- It is easy to test your line's download and upload speed with an online speedtest
- You can sign up for an internet-only plan or bundle internet with television and telephone service
How to choose an internet service provider?
When choosing an internet service provider (ISP) there are a few factors to consider. Different customers have different speed and price requirements. Assessing your situation is important before signing up for an internet contract. Here is what to consider when choosing the best internet service provider.
- What's available? Research which internet providers offer internet service in your area, city or province. Available providers vary widely, so it is key to know your options. In rural areas, for example, even though the choices are limited, satellite internet has come a long way since its early days. Recently, it has improved drastically and could be the right option for you.
- How fast is it? Speed matters when shopping for an internet service provider. So much of our lives have moved online from banking to watching TV shows, to filling out tax forms, downloading music and sharing photos. No one wants to spend all day waiting for a file or video to download. Speed also matters if you have a lot of internet users in the same household. Do you watch Netflix, while your children game online and your spouse catches up on Disney+? Only so much can move through a slow connection at once. For that reason, fast internet helps even if you use the internet for everyday things like email, messaging, or streaming videos. Buy enough to keep up with your family without overspending on a plan you don't need.
- How much does it cost? Many internet service providers offer multiple plans. You probably won’t need to pay for the most expensive plan if you’re single and living alone. On the other hand, if you have a house full of teenagers and work from home, it can be well worth it to spend a little more to guarantee better connectivity.
- What type of connection is it? You have probably heard terms like DSL, cable, fibre, satellite and mobile data. Fibre is generally the quickest and best for home use, but it can be expensive and is not yet available everywhere. Each connection type has its pros and cons, and your location may decide how you get online.
- How is the customer service? Even the best ISPs can have downtime and reliability hiccups. It is always good to know that you will have support in an emergency or when everything else fails.
How much does internet cost per month?
Canadians currently pay an average of $95 for their 100-250 Mbps home internet plan. And that doesn't even include their mobile data! Internet prices are generally on the rise, but Canada is already infamous for having some of the most-expensive internet prices in the world.
What internet service providers are near me?
If shopping by location, here are some of the main Canadian ISPs and the regions in which they operate. Available providers in your area may include some of these service providers.
|Ontario or Quebec|
|Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba|
Good to know
Don’t like the options where you live? Keep in mind that internet service providers in Canada face a huge challenge when it comes to providing high-speed internet services. The sheer size of the country and the relatively sparse population make it difficult and expensive to reach clients.
Which is the cheapest internet provider?
Smaller, independent companies often provide better prices, but they may only run cable or DSL networks instead of fibre-optic ones. That may mean slower speeds, but it can still be more than enough for many users.
|ISP||Cheapest plan||Plan name|
|Acanac||$34 per month||25 Mbps plan|
|Bell||$49.95 per month||Fibe Internet|
|Eastlink||$79.95 per month||Fibre Link Internet 350|
|Eyesurf||$50 per month||Internet 10|
|FibreStream||$40 per month||100 Mbps|
|Fizz||$39 per month||10 Mbps plan|
|High-Speed Crow||$64.25 per month||Crow|
|Oxio||$40 per month||10 Mbps|
|Telus||$75 per month||Fast|
|Rogers||$59.99 per month||INTERNET 25|
|Shaw||$79 per month||GET FIBRE+ 500|
Pricing and packages vary by location. These inexpensive plans may not be available where you live.
What is fibre internet?
Fibre is the best option when multiple internet users connect to several devices simultaneously. With fibre internet you can:
- Upload and download files quickly
- Enjoy gaming and video chatting apps without lag or interruptions
- Back up large files such as photos or videos to the cloud in minutes instead of hours
- Download HD movies in seconds
How fast should my internet be?
Knowing how much speed you need for your devices is the first step when deciding what kind of internet package you want to buy and how much bandwidth you need.
Good to know
Already have internet? You can check your internet speed here.
Wondering how to determine the level of performance you need? That's easy. Generally speaking, a 50 Mbps plan will support typical current use cases for the vast majority of households today.
|Use||Suggested download speed|
|Social media, email or light video streaming||10-25 Mbps|
|Gaming or heavy use of video, especially 4K||50-100 Mbps|
|Virtual or augmented reality||100-250 Mbps|
Below are some of the most frequent internet uses and the minimum bandwidth they would need for a good browsing/surfing experience.
While 5-10Mbps is considered sufficient bandwidth for basic internet users today, experts predict that in five years that won’t be enough. In five years 40Mbps will be required.
Good to know
At the moment, an average family of four on a budget can still have a positive experience with speeds of 25Mbps.
What is the fastest internet?
The fastest advertised internet speed that our team could find in Canada was Bell’s Gigabit Fibe 3.0 clocking in at 3Gbps for both upload and download speeds. Telus offers the PureFibre 1.5 Gigabit Internet plan with up to 1.5Gbps download speeds. Rogers' Ignite Internet Gigabit offers 1Gbps speeds. While large providers have the widest support for high-speed internet service, locally some smaller players like Beanfield Metroconnect may offer very fast local service where you live.
Unfortunately, these are theoretical speeds. Real speeds rarely reach the advertised numbers as they depend on a number of factors like physical location, network congestion, whether you are wired or wireless, your equipment and more. Additionally, these plans are not available everywhere.
How to get rural high-speed internet?
The Canadian government has the Broadband Fund to promote the installation of high-speed internet in small and rural communities. There are several wireless technologies out there that can bring fast internet speeds to remote locations across the country, from farms to cabins and lodges.
The government publishes a National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, which can help you see what is available where you live.
Some of the best rural internet providers in Canada include Xplornet, Bell, Rogers, Sasktel, and Telus. High-speed internet may be available where you live via a few different connection types.
- Satellite Internet. In rural areas, satellite internet may be the only option. While it has become a lot more reliable than before, it can be expensive with high latency. Xplorenet is a leader in satellite WiFi and internet service with affordable data plans ranging from $59.99 – $99.99/ month. Other providers include Canada Satellite, Galaxy Broadband, Ground Control and Starlink. Some of these require expensive equipment and have metered usage.
- Data plan on your cell phone. Using cell phone data is also an option. They are faster than ever before with 5G plans beginning to roll out in parts of the country. Note that cell phone data can be expensive and usage metered. For light usage, it may be enough.
- Choose a local internet service provider. Depending on how rural the location is, you may still have a local provider. It's worth checking with neighbours about their experience.
What is the best internet, TV and phone bundle?
Internet, TV and home phone bundle prices and offers vary from province to province, and from coast to coast. It's usually possible to buy either TV or home phone service or both with your internet service.
Major telecom providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus offer great bundles. Together the three can reach $150 per month, but if you’re interested in all three, it can work out as a cheaper option than buying all three services individually.
Besides the major telecoms, you may have smaller providers where you live with attractive offers. Quebec-based oxio is one that we like. It has well-priced internet, TV and home phone bundles.
Which is the best internet service provider for gaming?
The best internet service provider for gaming depends on your location, budget and the types of games you like to play.
In general, games that require fast reflexes such as first-person shooters want low latency or a low ping rate. High latency can mean choppy action as your character lags behind the others. The physical distance between you and the gaming server and your ISP's infrastructure makes a difference here.
Connection type plays a role too. Fibre and DSL are much better choices than satellite internet for a gamer. Shaw, Telus, Bell, Roger’s and Vidéotron are usually safe bets.
Which is the best internet for seniors?
The Canadian Government's Connecting Families initiative helps support connectivity and affordable internet service for low-income seniors.
Connecting Families 2.0 program offers 200GB of data usage for just $20 a month to eligible Canadians.
Participating ISPs include:
- Access Communications
- Bell Canada
- Hay Communications
- Westman Communications
How to get portable wifi?
Many internet providers offer portable wifi devices. You may have the option to either rent or buy the device. They usually have multiple plans based on a destination or usage. Portable wifi devices can also be purchased online or from your closest consumer electronics store.
Which is the best internet for low-income families?
For families on a budget, the federal government's Connecting Families initiative promotes high-speed internet (up to 50 Mbps) for as little as $20. Many Canadian ISPs participate in this program.