More than 8 in 10 Canadian households now have internet access, according to Statistics Canada. Even in rural areas, more than two-thirds have Canadians have internet. However, internet access penetration is just one side of the coin.
The other side is how good, and how costly, our internet is. And that's where things go dim. See, while we all may have internet, we're overpaying for it, and the stuff we're getting is far from cutting-edge.
According to new research from the CIRA, Canadians pay higher rates for lower internet speeds than in other developed markets. In fact, based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average price per month for one megabit-per-second of access is more than four dollars in Canada.
This number is high. For context, it places us 23rd on a list of 34. In Japan, internet costs just 10% of what it does in Canada, according to OECD data.
What's worse, our internet value has actually diminished over time. In 2001, Canada was ranked a very respectable 2nd on that list. 10 years later, though, countries like Sweden and South Korea have made substantial progress. We, meanwhile, have stagnated.
Perhaps this is why there is such a stark divide between the internet access of high-income households and low-income households. Going back to Statistics Canada, we find that 97% of households with incomes above $87,000 have internet—but only half of households making $30,000 or less have internet. In leading countries today, internet is affordable for households at any income level.
And all of this is terribly unfortunate, because Canadians are online more than anyone else in the world, according to numerous studies and surveys. Isn't it time our government steps in and pulls us back up to speed—and affordability—with the rest of the developed world?