The proposed law could require Internet providers to disclose more accurate average speeds

Legislation before Industry Canada’s federal committee could require Internet providers to disclose average Internet speeds during peak usage periods instead of just peak speeds, bringing Canada’s Internet reporting requirements closer to European Union and British standards.

Bill C-288, introduced as a private member’s bill by Conservative MP Dan Mazier, aims to increase transparency in telecommunications marketing and is currently before the House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee.

When proposing the bill in October, Mr. Mazier said it would ensure Canadians fully understand the product they buy as advertised. Internet speed is sometimes unavailable during peak hours when many people are online.

The codes set by Canada’s telecommunications regulator do not currently contain any speed or performance obligations, and there is no requirement for service providers to include any speed criteria in customer contracts. However, telecommunications companies follow provisions of the Competition Act that protect consumers from deceptive advertising.

According to Howard Maker, head of the Telecommunications-Television Services Complaints Commission, Canada’s telecommunications complaint resolution agency, Canadian consumers often don’t understand that what they’ve purchased is the maximum speed available under their plan.

Reza Rajabyun, a policy researcher at Concordia University’s Algorithmic Media Observatory, told MPs the legislation is especially important to ensure rural Canadians get their advertised speeds.

“Some providers can actually deliver the speeds they promise, as suggested by CRTC broadband test data. However, outside urban centers at the fringes of wireline and fiber networks, where incentives for network investment are relatively weak, the problem is more widespread,” Mr. Rajabyun said.

Bell Canada, Rogers Telecommunications Inc. and Telus Communications Inc. all include language on their websites about the maximum speeds provided.

Bell Canada’s website states that Internet speed depends on the distance between the customer’s router and the company’s switching equipment, and that some maximum speeds can only be achieved with a wired connection.

Telus says that Internet speed results “may vary depending on your home’s construction materials, the location and configuration of your Wi-Fi modem, the location and capabilities of Wi-Fi devices, the number of nearby Wi-Fi networks, active Wi-Fi from the number of Fi devices or other factors.”

Rogers states on its website that Internet speeds will vary based on “various factors, including network system availability and capacity, traffic management practices, customer equipment, signal strength, topography and environmental conditions.”

In 2020, the Canadian telecommunications regulator published an overview of broadband speeds in Canada and found that most ISPs provided upload speeds that met or exceeded their advertised maximum upload speeds on average, and that these rates were not significantly affected by increased network congestion. during peak hours.

However, the Center for Public Advocacy, a consumer advocacy group, has since raised some concerns about the report, calling the sample pool and data collection methods “flawed.”

Similar bills have been passed elsewhere. In 2017, the Australian Government published guidance on how to advertise and clearly disclose typical maximum speeds. In November, three Australian telcos were fined a collective A$33.5 million ($30.7 million) for advertising speeds they failed to deliver.

In 2018, Britain created a new standard that requires any internet speed claims to be based on download speeds available to at least 50 percent of customers during peak hours between 8pm and 10pm, and called “average” speeds. Previously, UK carriers could advertise the maximum speed if it reached at least 10 per cent of customers.

The European Union Internet Regulation also requires operators to provide information about the minimum and maximum speeds typically available.

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