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Market Study Highlights: Competition in Canada's Broadband Industry

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August 7, 2019

In May 2018, the Competition Bureau launched a market study on broadband (high-speed) Internet services. We set out to understand whether Canadians are fully benefiting from competitive Internet services.

For example, we looked at whether independent Internet service providers—which buy access to the networks of traditional phone and cable companies—were offering consumers a viable competitive alternative to Canada’s telephone or cable companies.

What we learned was that many Canadians enjoy a meaningful choice of Internet service providers and are generally satisfied with their current provider. The majority of Canadians continue to obtain Internet from one of Canada’s traditional telecom companies, often in a bundle with telephone or television services. However, many Canadians are turning to independent providers, also known as wholesale-based providers. We found that those customers report higher satisfaction than the ones who use a traditional provider.

Throughout Canada, more than 1 million households purchase Internet from wholesale-based providers, and many others have leveraged their presence to negotiate better deals from the traditional providers. However, an exception still exists for Canadians in remote and rural areas, who typically have fewer and less modern options for Internet services.

We also learned that price isn’t everything. Consumers take into account many important factors when choosing Internet providers, such as speed, monthly download caps and customer service.

The findings also emphasise that the strength of Canada’s high-speed networks depends on investment and innovation by traditional telecom companies.

During the study, we received input from a variety of Internet service providers, and commissioned public opinion research, including focus groups and a survey of more than 2,000 households. We also heard from over 42,000 Canadians who shared their views through an online survey.

Thank you to all those who took the time to participate in our study.

Check out the highlights of our findings below!

Did you know? There are two ways Canadian homes get access to high-speed Internet

Most Canadians are satisfied with their current Internet service provider and the choice of providers available to them

Remote and rural areas generally have fewer and less modern options for Internet services

Over 1 million Canadian households get their Internet services from a wholesale-based provider

Wholesale-based providers play an important competitive role in the market

However, the strength of Canada’s networks is built on large investments driven by facilities-based competition

Emerging technology may offer Canadians more alternatives for high-speed Internet services in the future

There are four main types of Internet consumers – which one are you?



Loyals stick with the brand they trust. They value customer service and network reliability and tend to purchase their Internet from a facilities-based provider. Loyals are least likely to think about or follow through with switching their Internet services. They are also most likely to bundle their Internet with other services and tend to live outside of large urban centers.



Speed-seekers have a need for speed. They’re less concerned about brand and customer service, and more concerned with having a download speed and download/upload limit able to support their data needs. Speed-seekers tend to be younger and are most likely to switch their Internet provider.



When it comes to their Internet service, for deal-seekers, price is king. Deal-seekers care much more about price than other qualities like brand and customer service. Deal-seekers tend to live in large urban centers and are more likely to subscribe to their Internet services through a wholesale-based provider than Loyals and Speed-seekers.



This group of consumers takes a balanced approach to choosing their Internet services. They consider download speed and price as well as brand, reliability and customer service. Balancers are most likely to be female and are most likely to purchase their Internet service from a wholesale-based provider.

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