Canada’s 5G improving in speeds and coverage, finds new report

The coverage of Canada’s 5G network has improved dramatically, according to a report by PCMag.

The report, titled Fastest Mobile Networks in Canada 2021, found that users can now access 5G on at least one carrier in every major city, compared to in only about half a dozen locations a year ago. Now, only rural areas and small towns lack 5G.

5G network speeds comparisons between Canada's Big Three carriers
Bell is the overall 5G performance leader, but other operators are catching up. Credit: PCMag.

The speed has been improving too. Bell, Telus and Rogers are all ramping up service speeds and are vying for the top spot. PCMag found Bell to be the fastest 5G provider in 12 of 20 test cities last year, scoring a win by a landslide. But other carriers have caught up this year. Of the top 20 cities tested, Bell and Telus each won eight, Rogers won two, and Bell and Telus tied in the remaining two cities.

Canadians are also using far more data with new unlimited plans. Data use increased from an average of 3GB per month in 2019 to more than 5GB in 2021. But despite the increased mobile traffic, there’s still enough bandwidth to handle the extra usage.

Surprisingly, Halifax, not Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, showed the fastest download speeds, averaging a download speed of 228.4Mbps. With that said, Toronto had the best coverage averaged over the three major carriers, showing 76 per cent availability.

But the city with the slowest 5G speeds is also in Ontario. London, Ontario had the lowest average download speeds of the 20 cities tested, averaging 119Mbps. Still, even the slowest 5G speeds are much faster than the average 4G speeds. Opensignal’s August 2021 Mobile Network Experience Report showed that Telus, the fastest 4G carrier in Canada, only averaged 73.9 Mbps on its 4G network.

While performance gains from switching to 5G networks seem impressive already, it’s about to get a whole lot faster. Now that carriers have purchased the mid-band 3,500MHz spectrum and are finalizing the deployment of their respective 5G cores for true standalone 5G, Canadians can expect their speeds to skyrocket.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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