Okay readers, it’s time to put some armour on to protect yourself from the slings and arrows being lobbed by two of the country’s biggest telecommunications consultants.

In one corner is Montreal-based LeMay-Yates Associates, which at the beginning of the month issued a report saying Canada shouldn’t hang its head when it comes to international residential broadband rankings.Today Montreal-based SeaBoard Group issued its own report, which says that compared to the U.S. broadband providers, we’re not bad in terms of speed and price. Compared to the rest of the world, however, we’re lagging.

Typically for SeaBoard,the report is a little tongue in cheek, imagining the choice Martians would face looking for a provider. The aliens would find good plans from cableco Shaw Communications and teleco Telus Communications Corp. in the west, and from cableco Videotron in Quebec. But, it adds, “Ontario is a black hole.” Plans in that province, dominated by BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, “tend to be expensive, the speeds relatively slow, and monthly throughputs restrictive.”

The report compared plans advertised last October and November in 30 countries, including 41 plans in Canada and 21 in the U.S. SeaBoard created two types of consumers when doing its comparison, an average user more concerned about price than speed, and a “warrior” who wants speed above all. Prices were averaged to eliminate the effects of incentives and discounts.

The result: If you want speed, Shaw and Montreal-based Videotron offer packages with download speeds of between 60 and 100 Mbps for between $75 and $80 a month (and Videotron customers face a small capacity cap).

On the other hand, in Stockholm one provider offers a 200 Mbps service for $28.30 a month with unlimited data.

The fastest Canadian service is Shaw’s fledgling 1 Gbps in parts of Vancouver, which costs $81.81, with a download limit of 750 Gb a month. Which is better than Verizon’s 150 Mbps service in Pittsburgh for $200 a month. Yikes!

So is the cup half full or half empty? SeaBoard argues this country’s major service providers are sitting on decade-old laurels.

“Our connections are expensive, and we are no longer at the forefront of the very fields that used to define us as a country: telecommunications, energy, automobiles and transport,” says the report. “As the world turns to information technologies and communications, Canadians – formerly leaders – are now laggards. The vanguard of the Internet Age has shifted from Canada (indeed, from North America) to Asia and to Europe. There, the tools – the network access, the affordable high bandwidth pipelines – are deployed, are available and are being used.”

What can be done about it in terms of public policy? That, SeaBoard says, will be revealled in another report.

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