Rural Internet download speeds are slowly closing the gap with

ByLance T. Lee

Jul 13, 2022

OTTAWA, July 13 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As Canadians recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, access to high-speed internet continues to be a challenge for many, especially in rural and northern communities. CIRA has documented this inequity by releasing an annual Internet Performance Test (IPT) data release that examines the state of broadband across the country. CIRA’s IPT data provides residents, planners and policy makers with the evidence they need to close the digital divide that persists in Canada.

CIRA’s annual reports have consistently highlighted the stark contrast between urban and rural Internet connectivity. While 2021 showed some improvement for residents of rural communities, with the median download speed increasing to 14.1 Mbps, the urban median download speed also increased significantly to 63.9 Mbps, again bolstering the persistent digital divide.

This year’s data release focuses on test data collected over 2021 and the first four months of 2022, which shows that urban internet speeds continue to outpace rural speeds. Despite this, the gap between urban and rural speeds is slowly closing – a trend that will hopefully continue as governments increase funding for broadband infrastructure projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, this year’s release includes never-before-seen 2019 data on provincial internet speeds, deepening regional insights into how internet access in Canada is changing and where it’s needed most. . Due to the lower number of tests in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, CIRA does not publish territorial data at this time.

While the median download speed for rural areas increased slightly from previous years to 20.9 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022, in urban areas it increased at a much faster rate, almost doubling since the start. of the pandemic, reaching 74.61 Mbps. While this is a step in the right direction for rural residents, there is still a lot of catching up to do. Looking at individual provinces, this latest data shows that of those who took a test, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia and Nova Scotia topped the charts for the fastest internet download speeds. fast; while Alberta, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island seem to have the slowest speeds.

Main conclusions

The results below are reported based on the results of IPT data generated between January 1, 2020 and April 30, 2022 from a total of 183,926 urban tests and 185,193 rural tests. Provincial data covers the same period, while the additional charts below display data from 2019.

  • Rural internet speeds are slowly closing the gap with urban speeds: urban speeds are now only 3.8 times faster than rural speeds from March 2021 to 2022, compared to 6.1 times faster in 2020-2021.
  • From 7.2 Mbps in 2020 to 20.9 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022, the median download speed in rural areas has almost tripled since the start of the pandemic. Despite this increase, rural Internet users still fall far short of the federal government’s definition of high-speed Internet (50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload), especially given the almost negligible increase in speed download at 2.2 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022, 1 Mbps in 2020.
  • Median urban download speeds continue to increase steadily, from 47.2 Mbps in 2020 to 74.6 Mbps in Q1 2022. In 2018, the median urban download speed was 23.4 Mbps, still above the current median rural download speed, four years later.
  • In the first quarter of 2022, the median download speed in Newfoundland and Labrador reached 84.5 Mbps, almost 60 Mbps faster than it was in Alberta, which recorded a speed of 25, 1Mbps. Newfoundland and Labrador also held the fastest median download speed in 2021 at 65.3 Mbps, just over 50 Mbps faster than Saskatchewan at a meager 14.7 Mbps.
  • Atlantic Canada leads in provincial median urban download speeds, with Newfoundland and Labrador leading the chart at 127.2 Mbps, ahead of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia at 106.3 Mbps and 95, 9 Mbps, respectively. In 2021, New Brunswick was in first place with 105.9 Mbps, followed closely by Newfoundland and Labrador with 92.6 Mbps.
  • When comparing provincial median rural download speeds, Alberta has the slowest of all provinces, clocking in at just 15.4 Mbps. In fact, Alberta and Ontario, at 21.6 Mbps, have slower rural download speeds than the national average.

This data was collected using CIRA’s Internet Performance Test. Since the program’s launch, Canadians have performed more than 1,200,000 tests. CIRA is currently helping dozens of local governments and organizations that collectively represent over 1000 communities across Canada to connect the heatmap in their area.

Canadians can help promote a faster Internet for all by taking CIRA’s Internet Performance Test at

Figures and graphs1

Figure 1: The urban-rural digital divide –

Figure 2: Median download and upload speeds in rural areas –

Figure 3: Urban Internet Speeds –

Figure 4: Median provincial download and upload speeds –

Figure 5: National Average Internet Speeds in Canada –

Figure 6: Median rural download and upload speeds by province –

Figure 7: Median urban download and upload speeds by province –

Additional context

  • At CIRA, we do everything we can to help Canadians prosper online. Our team ensures that the Internet is a force for innovation, connection and trust. But we recognize that the benefits of the Web have not been universally shared. That’s why we bring our expertise, resources, and convening power to help solve Internet problems through our community investment program with initiatives like our Internet Performance Test.
  • CIRA partners with community groups, local chambers of commerce, government agencies and others to facilitate the use of IPT for connectivity planning. These strong local connections and partnerships are key to creating the test data needed to support infrastructure upgrades in underserved communities.
  • The 2021 federal budget committed an additional $1 billion over six years for the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) to increase access to fast, reliable high-speed internet for rural and remote communities, driving the UBF investment from the federal government to $2.75 billion. No additional funding was provided in Budget 2022. As these infrastructure projects roll out across the country, Canadians using CIRA’s IPT program will play an important role in monitoring the evolution of the quality of the Internet and the impact of public investments, including the results of projects financed by the UBF. projects.
  • In Telecom Decision 2021-181 On May 27, 2021, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) rescinded its 2019 order that reduced wholesale Internet rates for independent competitive ISPs. The federal government upheld the CRTC’s decision in response to a petition from Teksavvy in an executive order issued May 19, 2022.
  • In May 2022, the federal government also announced a Order Directing the CRTC on a Renewed Approach to Telecommunications Policy aimed at promoting telecommunications competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation.

Executive quote

“The past two and a half years have really cemented the critical role the internet plays in all of our lives. While improving rural speeds is a step in the right direction, this report unfortunately still paints a bleak picture of the state of connectivity in many parts of Canada Continued investment in broadband infrastructure by governments, internet service providers and communities themselves will be essential to ensure that rural communities are not yet more behind.

– Tanya O’Callaghan, Vice President, Community Investment, Policy and Advocacy

About CIRA’s Internet Performance Test

CIRA’s Internet Performance Test is one of the most advanced Internet speed and quality tests available and has the public interest at heart. The test nodes are located in Internet exchange points in Tier 1 Canadian cities, rather than in an ISP’s own network architecture. This allows CIRA to measure the actual performance of an Internet connection to an “off-net” server under real-world network conditions, accurately representing the true Internet experience of Canadian users. To assess Internet performance, CIRA uses the Network Diagnostic Test (NDT) developed by M-Lab. The platform allows Canadians to test the quality of their Internet connections, including measurements of speed, latency, jitter and packet loss. Canadians have performed more than 1,200,000 tests on the platform since May 2015.

About CIRA

CIRA is a non-profit, member-based organization best known for managing the .CA Internet top-level domain name on behalf of all Canadians. While CIRA’s primary mandate is the safe, stable and secure operation of the .CA domain and its underlying technologies, the organization also connects, protects and engages the Internet community in Canada and beyond by providing high-quality registry, DNS and cybersecurity services. .

Media Contacts
Shehnila Sayeed
Communications Specialist, CIRA
[email protected]

1 Note: Multiple tests from the same IP address are combined to produce an average daily upload and download speed. This reduces the likelihood of a single IP address significantly distorting the data.

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