Canada's internet adoption continues to grow; 93.3 percent of the country's 33 million people are now online, up from 92.5 percent last year. Obviously, broadband is big business up north, but which provider is best?
Canadian readers of PCMag are here to help. By taking our Speed Test, the results are used to tabulate the fastest internet service providers (ISPs) in Canada across all the provinces and major metro areas. You can and should take the test right now to become part of the story.
(Deactivate your VPN temporarily for the best results.)
For this story, we refer to 13,253 tests taken between July 1, 2016, and May 22, 2017. Each test includes a full accounting of the tester's download speed (aka throughput) and upload speed, reported in Megabits per second (Mbps). We then stick all the numbers into a spreadsheet, pivot some pivot tables, and crank out the formula that takes 80 percent of the download speed and adds it to 20 percent of the upload speed.
The result is a ranking we call the PCMag Speed Index. Using that, we can quickly and accurately order things to show us the fastest services and locations in Canada. (For more, read the full methodology from our Fastest ISPs of 2017 US.)
The minimum number of tests needed for inclusion across the board is 100—so 100 tests per ISP, per province, per location, per ISP in a location, etc. Smaller ISPs don't always make the cut (so share our link with your small, nimble, fast ISP today!). Now, let's see which company gets the speed we need.
Fastest ISPs in Canada
In the world of broadband, things change. Sometimes competition spurs ISPs on to better and faster things or sometimes they just buy each other out...though that seems to be more of a US phenomenon.
For the last couple of years, Bell Aliant has held the top spot in our tests, without much help—especially last year when it hit a record-setting 81.8 PCMag Speed Index rating. This year not so much. It still got a very respectable 63.3 score, but that's only good enough for second place.
Instead, Rogers, the country's largest cable provider, with services from Ontario on east, stepped up and improved its speed from last year's second place 55.7 to an excellent 67.3 today. That's more than enough to put the Toronto-based service in the lead, making it the fastest for 2017.
A Rogers basic package starts at a 5Mbps download/1Mbps up, with 25GB of usage allowed per month; but the high end is high—1 Gig down, 30 Mbps up, unlimited usage, mostly in the Toronto area. Even the midrange 150 down/15 up is where it's at, and no doubt helped push the cable provider's scores way up. Even more astonishing is that Rogers was down at a 41.0 in 2015.
Bell Aliant is part of Bell Canada—which you get depends on your location (even on their shared website). Aliant is the brand operated on the Atlantic side and has outclassed the competition in the past, even its owner Bell Canada, which this year managed only a 27.0 rating, putting it in sixth place in the top 10 fastest ISPs for the year. Both companies offer up to 1 Gig download connections, again depending on the location.
The rest of the top five are Eastlink (37.8), Shaw (20.3), and Cogeco (28.3), all with improved scores from last year. Dropping out of the top 10 is MTS (now Bell MTS, the Bell arm of western Canada; so much for not buying each other out). It was the only ISP in the top 10 last year with a score that fell in 2017. That exit makes way for TekSavvy Solutions at the low end with a 17.1 score, despite it offering a mix of cable, DSL, and even fixed wireless services—and it licenses a lot of those lines from the other ISPs on this list.
WINNER: Fastest ISP in Canada
The country's largest cable provider hasn't been on top of our list of the fastest since 2014; now it's more than doubled the score it had that year (30.3) to coast easily into the lead. But the competition remains fierce between Rogers and the Bells, among others, so which one comes out on top next year will be a nail-biter.
Provinces With the Fastest Internet
Prince Edward Islanders still haven't made enough tests to give us a read, but the rest of Canada's provinces are here to show off their speeds. The trend remains the same: the Atlantic side gets all the speed while things slow down as you head west. That said, British Columbia's no longer in the last spot; Saskatchewan is in last place with a 16.4.
If you must have decent internet throughput almost guaranteed, you want to be in New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, or Nova Scotia. They're all pushed up by the very high scores still afforded each area by fiber (sorry, fibre) connections, mainly via Bell Aliant.
Over in Ontario, which gets an overall 37.9 PCMag Speed Index, the number of ISPs duking it out is high, which isn't surprising as it's the most densely populated province. The No. 1 ISP there is, no surprise, home-town boy Rogers (69.4), but it's helped quite a bit by Eastlink (39.2) and Cogeco (28.7)
Here's a look at the top ISP each province (we don't show all 10 because not every ISP had 100 responses per province). Shaw gets a particularly nice showing in the central and western provinces, all with PCMag Speed Index ratings higher than last year. In fact, the only year-to-year drop registered here is Bell Aliant in New Brunswick, down from 107.3 last year.
- New Brunswick: Bell Aliant—84.0
- Ontario: Rogers—69.4
- Quebec: Bell Canada—41.8
- Saskatchewan: SaskTel—14.0
- Alberta: Shaw—33.2
- Manitoba: Shaw—47.0
- British Columbia: Shaw—25.3
Canadian Cities With the Fastest Internet
Last year's leader, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, didn't make the cut this year—not enough tests came in from the location. Chances are, even if the municipality had doubled its PCMag Speed Index it wouldn't have mattered because first place seems to be a foregone conclusion.
With a rating like 279.3, no one was going to ever come close to Maple, Ontario, part of the city of Vaughan, which provides astronomically high downloads (mainly from Rogers). Uploads are pretty weak but not enough to impact the index.
Next on the list is Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the same spot it was last year, but this year with an improved score of 69.0, up from 57.1.
Of the rest of the top 10 fastest cities, only three are major enough that they are also on the top 10 list of largest municipalities in the country, and each is in Ontario: Brampton (46.6), Hamilton (43.8), and the capital in Ottawa (41.4). The majority of the top 10 hover right there in the 40s, with only London, Ontario, shooting high enough to hit 51.3.
If you're curious about the fastest ISPs in the major cities, here's the quick list with the city's index and the top ISP.
- Toronto, ON—35.5 (Rogers Cable—57.2)
- Montreal, QC—33.9 (Bell Canada—39.0)
- Calgary, AB—30.1 (Shaw—33.9)
- Ottawa, ON—41.4 (Rogers —51.2)
- Edmonton, AB—27.3 (Shaw—33.4)
- Winnipeg, MB—31.8 (Shaw—48.3)
- Vancouver, BC—25.3 (Shaw—28.1)
Every single one of these major cities, with a major ISP, saw a modest increase in speed from last year. Hopefully, that's a trend that will continue.
Curious about your broadband internet speed? Test it now!