Toronto the Turtle of High Speed

Awhile ago I saw a PBS documentary on so-called high speed in the US and how American telephone companies could not deliver on high speed because of not replacing copper wiring with fibre optic cables. Tonight I watched CBC’s Marketplace compare high speed services between four of the largest Internet Service Providers in Canada: Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Shaw. The Rogers user came in close to the company’s advertised speed; the Bell user came in dead last, like waayyyyy last. At the end of the program, they recommend going to their website to check your own speedy (or lack thereof) connection.

There they link to Speedtest.net. Speedtest has a nifty graphical interface and aside from the difficulty of clicking on the Toronto pyramid due to it hiding behind the Hamilton one, it was pretty easy to use and to test one’s own broadband connection speed. After testing, you can compare your speed to others using the same ISP, or see the stats for Toronto or Region or Canada.

Let’s just say that we might live in the largest city in Canada, and we might be the capital of Ontario, but we get no respect. The big players, Bell and Rogers, are absent in the top ten list of the speediest downloaders in Toronto — Toronto Hydro’s speed of about 16 Mbps easily crushes anything by the big telecoms — but the Canada stats tell the real sorry tale of Toronto speeds. Toronto is nowhere on the map, and Ontario is pretty dismal. The ocean-bordered provinces do way better. What’s up with that? Toronto is supposed to be the economic hub of the country; we’re supposed to have businesses that require both speedy connections in their skyscrapers as well as for their employees at home; we’re supposed to have upgraded fibre optic cables — after all they crowed about replacing copper wiring eons ago and, as well, haven’t we all been inconvenienced by Bell employees replacing our ancient lines and giving us new lines for the past many years?

Still, the stats paint a different picture. When it comes to broadband high speeds, Toronto is distinctly in the slow lane, except for Toronto Hydro Telecom, which the city just sold off.

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