Best Canadian Broadband Internet Service Providers for 2023

Service Providers for 2023

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For more than 20 years, PCMag has published annual reports on Canada’s fastest internet service providers (ISPs). For all those years, best was defined as fastest, but that is no longer the case.

This year, PCMag has partnered with new data providers to create a more rounded picture, including not just speed but price, coverage, and customer satisfaction. They also decided to split the competition into categories: Major and All-around ISPs. A company was defined as “major” if they were a nationally recognisable brand that reached multiple provinces and usually had their own last-mile lines. Additionally, they must have received at least 1,000 Speed Test Results through PCMag. Regional providers who received at least 100 Speed Test Results were included in the All-around category.

Today, we’re going to look at the best Canadian ISPs in the country, according to PCMag.

Bell

Winner: Best Major & All-Around ISP

Bell has often dominated this list in the past, but for the last three years, it has been outpaced by Telus. This year, however, PCMag’s broader range of categories show that when price, coverage, and customer satisfaction are combined with speed, Bell gets the top marks.

Telus

Winner: Fastest Major ISP

Of the 23 largest ISPs in the nation, Telus’s PureFibre service has the highest PCMag Speed Index score – 270.6. That’s much faster than the next fastest major provider, which is Bell at 239.1.

telMax

Winner: Fastest All-Around ISP

telMax is a regional provider to parts of Ontario, and its average download and upload speeds were 578.8, which dwarfs the speeds provided by the major companies.

Best Major ISPs

These are the top three major ISPs when all categories are considered:

  1. Bell Canada
  2. Telus PureFibre
  3. Rogers

Bell had slipped from the top spot in the rankings for the past three years, but it regained its position because of PCMag’s new methodology. When all factors – speed, price, coverage, and customer satisfaction – were combined, Bell Canada easily took the top spot.

Fastest Major ISPs

These are the top three major ISPs for speed:

  1. Telus PureFibre
  2. Bell Canada
  3. Rogers

Because the rankings have historically been reliant on speed alone, this would have been the overall rankings. Telus overtook Bell in terms of speed three years ago, and they’ve maintained that edge this year.

Best Coverage for Major ISPs

These are the top three major ISPs with the most national coverage:

  1. Vmedia (part of Quebecor)
  2. TekSavvy
  3. Bell Canada

Coverage in Canada is a tricky thing to define, thanks to the Third Party Internet Access (TPIA) laws. While every ISP must build the backend infrastructure to maintain an ISP, they can rent the already-laid lines from major companies at a wholesale rate. That means they can sometimes provide more coverage than even larger players because they can use all the lines, not just the ones they laid in the ground. In this case, Vmedia and TekSavvy outperform Bell Canada, even though TekSavvy, for example, licenses lines from Bell Canada.

Best Priced Major ISPs

These are the top three major ISPs for price:

  1. Bell Canada*
  2. Telus PureFibre*
  3. Rogers*

*Joint first place

The major ISPs have a competitive advantage when it comes to price: they have the scale to keep even their top-tier package prices much lower than the smaller players. As a result, the three biggest ISPs share joint first place.

Best Major ISPs for Customer Satisfaction

These are the top three major ISPs with the best PCMag reader satisfaction scores:

  1. TekSavvy
  2. Virgin Plus (part of Bell)*
  3. Videotron (part of Quebecor)*

*Joint second place

PCMag determined the customer satisfaction ratings by conducting a Readers’ Choice survey earlier in the year. Bell Canada had a customer satisfaction rating of 7.2, which was enough to keep it in the top spot overall, but these three companies all had higher scores. TekSavvy earned 8.1, while Virgin Plus and Videotron scored 7.8.

PCMag also had the opportunity to look at more than just the top 23 companies. They were also able to compare the results of more regional players. Many of the regional companies provide much higher speeds and customer satisfaction ratings, and this changed some of the scores major companies got.

These results are below.

Best All-Around ISPs

These are the top three ISPs when all categories are considered:

  • Bell Canada
  • TekSavvy
  • Telus PureFibre

Because the ratings for speed are relative (that is, the fastest company gets a perfect 10, and the others are weighted against it), Rogers falls down the rankings. When compared to the 23 major companies, Rogers gets a speed score of 8, but that drops to 5 when compared with all the other providers. As a result, Rogers slips down the All-around rankings, opening up a spot for TekSavvy.

Fastest All-Around ISPs

These are the top three ISPs for speed:

  • telMax
  • Lakeland Networks
  • Telus PureFibre*
  • Bell Canada*

*Joint third place

This table shows just how outpaced the bigger companies are when it comes to internet speed. telMax is a fiber provider in Ontario, and it hits a median speed of 578.8, which gives it a perfect 10 in the PCMag rankings. Next is Lakeland Networks, which gets a median speed of 323.3. Telus has a median speed of 270.6, faster than Bell Canada’s 239.1, but PCMag gives both a score of 5 out of 10, giving them joint third place.

Best Coverage for All-Around ISPs

These are the top three ISPs with the most national coverage:

  • Vmedia (part of Quebecor)
  • TekSavvy
  • Bell Canada

Because of the TPIA laws mentioned above, coverage rankings stay the same for both major providers and all providers.

Best Priced All-Around ISPs

These are the top three ISPs for price:

  • Bell Canada*
  1. Telus PureFibre*
  2. Rogers*

*Joint first place

As discussed above, the biggest ISPs have the scale to be able to provide prices that others can’t touch, which means the rankings stay the same.

Best All-Around ISPs for Customer Satisfaction

These are the top three ISPs with the best PCMag reader satisfaction scores:

  1. TekSavvy
  2. Virgin Plus (part of Bell)*
  3. Videotron (part of Quebecor)*

*Joint second place  

Again, adding more providers into the mix hasn’t changed the rankings substantially, and the top three highest rated ISPs for customer service are the same in both categories.

In summary, PCMag’s 2023 report not only eases the decision-making process for consumers but also reflects the evolving landscape of the ISP industry. With its expanded ranking methodology, it serves as an indispensable guide, helping individuals across Canada choose the right ISP tailored to their specific needs.

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