Another international broadband study has slammed Canada’s performance in spreading high speed connectivity to the nation.
The Harvard University report for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which regulates carriers, noted that this country is “often thought of as a very high performer” because of the large number of broadband service subscribers.
However, it added, considering the high fees we pay compared to other countries, the speeds Internet service providers offer and the relatively low percentage of people who have 3G wireless service, Canada is “quite a weak performer, overall.”
By its calculations, as of July Canada placed 25th out of 30 countries studied in terms of pricing, 20th in terms of online speeds and 16th in terms of broadband penetration.
[Since July, however, cable companies here have been increasingly offering faster Internet download speeds of up to 50Mpbs.]
Overall, the leaders are Japan, Sweden, Denmark and South Korea. In its rankings, Canada placed 22nd overall, behind New Zealand, Spain and Austria.
The U.S., it added, is a “middle-of-the-pack performer” and placed 13th overall.
At the same time, the report says North American-style deregulation, which allows incumbent phone and cable companies to keep monopolies on some service, hasn’t resulted in increased competition.
In fact, it’s done the opposite. So, for example, rather than rush west to compete with Telus, Bell Canada has remained focused on Ontario and Quebec. There are numerous independent Internet service providers, the report notes, but they have small market share.
Another result is that of the 13 providers that charged the highest rates for the lowest online speeds, 11 came from the U.S. and Canada.
By contrast, providers in countries where regulators give providers open access to communications facilities – such as Japan, France, Sweden, South Korea and Finland – offer the lowest prices for the fastest speeds.
The reason, it concluded, is that open access has encouraged new entrants.
The report used speed and subscription fee figures for providers outside the U.S. from March. Figures for providers from the U.S. were more recent. The report admits that would have skewed results favourably to American carriers. Still, it didn’t improve the overall U.S. standing.