Measured against other countries, are Canadians getting hosed by their ISPs? Let’s compare

Measured against other countries, are Canadians getting hosed by their ISPs? Let’s compare

One of the biggest questions raised by this week’s usage-based billing fracas is whether Canadians are getting ripped off by their Internet service providers (ISPs). The problem is that comparing Internet service between countries raises all sorts of apples-to-oranges objections—regulations are different, infrastructure is different, markets are different. We’ve put together a chart with three factors (cost, speed, location) that should give an idea of what a dollar can get you in different countries around the world. The fairest comparison is between Canadian and American ISPs, but we’ve included several European countries to give a wider view, and a couple of Asian countries just to make ourselves cry. Oh, and Australia.

Our comparisons, after the jump.

2009 data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):

So according to 2009 data, Canadians can feel as smug about their Internet service as they do about their health care when they compare themselves to the Americans. Aside from that, the situation doesn’t look that pretty. It’s probably too much to hope that Canada could one day have Internet service as fast and cheap as South Korea (a country substantially less wealthy than Canada), but perhaps we could some day measure up to the United Kingdom or Sweden.

Aside from raw speed and dollars, there’s the other issue of bandwidth caps (the firestorm that the Canadian government is currently trying to put out). As the National Post points out, on this issue Canada is almost uniquely bad—the large majority of OECD countries have no cap, and of the others only Australia has the 100 per cent bit-capped model we have, and they pay more for it. Australia is trying a pretty radical solution to this sad state of affairs, which we expect Canada to dismiss and then adopt in half-measures about 20 years from now.

OECD Broadband Portal [OECD]
• Usage-based Internet billing: a global comparison [National Post]