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Study Reveals Which Of Canada’s “Big Three” Wireless Carriers Has Best Network Performance

October 29, 2014 - Written By Ian Jardine

As a Canadian, I can confidently say that many of my fellow countrymen are not too happy with the service they receive from their wireless carrier. Here in Canada, we are constantly exposed to headlines that tell us we pay far more for far less than our American counterparts and how we have fewer options to choose from if we decide to change carriers in the hopes of finding greener pastures. In most areas in Canada, you are restricted to choosing between the three big players in the country’s wireless industry, namely Bell, Rogers, and Telus. On top of that, the wireless industry here is heavily regulated by the federal government, which works to our favour in some ways but it also means that if a new company wants to start offering its services that they have a lot of hurdles to jump through before they can actually get off the ground. To make a long story short, people in Canada are just resigned to the fact that they are stuck paying high fees for bad service. According to a recent study, however, everything that Canadians have become accustomed to believing about their wireless service may be wrong as, in fact, people living in the country’s larger cities have access to mobile networks that are as fast, or faster, than many cities around the world.

RootMetrics is an independent mobile analytics firm that looks specifically at the consumer mobile experience. They recently conducted an unprecedentedly thorough report of the wireless service in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in which they performed more than 71,000 data, call and text tests using devices that were available in the retail locations of the three big carriers. They also tested the service of regional carrier WIND in Toronto and Vancouver, and Videotron in Montreal. In the end, it was Bell who won the most awards in terms of the quality of its network but Rogers and Telus performed quite well in their own right.

In Vancouver, it was Rogers who boasted the fastest data speeds but in each test both Bell and Telus were never far behind. According to RootMetrics, however, Bell and Telus performed slower in Vancouver than the other two cities in which their networks were tested. In fact, RootMetrics was able to connect to the LTE networks of both Bell and Telus less frequently than when they did similar testing a year ago. WIND mobile, unfortunately, had a fairly dismal showing and didn’t come close to rivaling the network quality of its competitors.
The people of Toronto have a lot to cheer about as RootMetrics discovered that the LTE networks in Canada’s largest city are of a fantastic quality. Their tests showed that they were able to get LTE service on their devices almost all of the time. In terms of which carrier had the best overall performance, it was Bell who pulled just slightly ahead of Telus for the win. Once again, WIND was left in the dust and finished last in every category measured.

Not to be outdone, however, is the performance of the networks in Montreal. All three of Canada’s big mobile carriers had especially exceptional performance in the tests conducted here. In fact, in Montreal the Rogers network was able to score the highest download speed RootMetrics had ever seen in all the testing they have ever conducted in the U.S., the U.K. or Canada. Regional carrier Videotron also had a great showing in Montreal as it performed as well or better than its larger competitors. In the end, it was Bell who pulled off a slight win and took the crown for the Montreal competition.

The results of these tests by RootMetrics are sure to catch a lot of Canadians by surprise because, as mentioned earlier, we are so accustomed to the idea that the wireless carriers in this country provide such subpar service compared to other places in the world. In fact, the quality of wireless service is actually a very hot topic in this country and these test results are sure to give those involved in Canada’s wireless industry a lot of food for thought. Additionally, one can’t help but wonder how the carriers will use these test results when promoting their services and if it will mean any change in pricing for their services in these cities. Industry talk aside, the people who should feel the most vindicated by these findings are the consumers because, when it comes to wireless service in this country, it is a rare occurrence indeed that you actually get what you pay for.