UPDATE: We have now a 2014 edition of this guide.
Choosing your home internet provider is a big decision. It costs you money each and every month, it affects what you can do inside your home, and generally, it's a long-term commitment. In Vancouver, there are three main options: Telus, Shaw, and Novus. Which one is right for you? Techvibes has analyzed and compared them. This guide will allow you to reach an educated conclusion that works for you.
MINIMUM DOWNLOAD SPEED
Telus' entry-level "high speed" internet clocks in at an agonizingly slow 1.5 to 6 Mbps. Shaw's starting internet package, which is the most expensive, is more impressive at 10 Mbps. But Novus', which is actually the cheapest, is leagues ahead at 25 Mbps.
WINNER: Novus, hands down.
Telus: 1.5 to 6 Mbps
Shaw: 10 Mbps
Novus: 25 Mbps
MINIMUM UPLOAD SPEED
The basic internet from Telus offers upload speeds of "up to" 1 Mbps, while Shaw offers a paltry 512 Kbps. Novus, meanwhile, starts at a remarkable 10 Mbps—20 times that of Shaw and faster even than Telus' starting download speed.
WINNER: Novus, no contest.
Telus: 1 Mbps
Shaw: 0.5 Mbps
Novus: 10 Mbps
MAXIMUM DOWNLOAD SPEED
Telus' high-speed internet caps out at 25 Mbps download speed—which you'll note is actually Novus' starting point. Shaw can deliver a blistering 250 Mbps, while Novus promises up to 300 Mbps.
WINNER: After you hit 250 Mbps, you won't notice a difference. A draw between Shaw and Novus.
Telus: 25 Mbps
Shaw: 250 Mbps
Novus: 300 Mbps
MAXIMUM UPLOAD SPEED
The best upload speed that Telus can offer is a meagre 2.5 Mbps—less than a quarter of Novus' starting upload speed! Shaw and Novus both deliver up to 10 Mbps uploading.
WINNER: Another tie for Shaw and Novus.
Telus: 2.5 Mbps
Shaw: 15 Mbps
Novus: 15 Mbps
MINIMUM MONTHLY DATA TRANSFER
The starting internet package for Telus offers users 150 GB worth of data transfers (uploads and downloads combined). Shaw, meanwhile, offers 125 GB, while Novus offers 150 GB.
WINNER: Novus wins again.
Telus: 150 GB
Shaw: 125 GB
Novus: 250 GB
MAXIMUM MONTHLY DATA TRANSFER
While Telus may offer a competitve minimum, the maximum that the telecom allows on its top-end internet plan is only 500 GB. Shaw and Novus both offer up to 1 TB. Novus offers up to 1 TB of upload data seperately from its 1 TB of download data. For $20 more than its 1 TB plan, Shaw offers unlimited data transfer.
WINNER: It's difficult to imagine needing more than one terabyte worth of data transfer monthly. Stalemate between Novus and Shaw.
Telus: 500 GB
Shaw: 1 TB (unlimited for extra $20)
Novus: 1 TB
Telus and Novus both squeak under the $40 threshold—Telus starts at $39 unbundled while Novus starts at $37.50 unbundled. Shaw comes in at a pricier $45.
WINNER: A clear victory for Novus, especially when factoring in value versus just raw cost.
All three companies offer services other than internet: Novus and Shaw offer television and landline services, while Telus offers those plus wireless data plans for mobile phones. So naturally, they all offer bundled packages that save you money—and entice you to use more of their own services. Telus trims $5 off each of its internet plans if you bundled your internet with a television package. Novus does the same, but it also allows you to save $5 by bundling with a landline phone service. Shaw only offers bundles that combine all three—internet, television, and home phone—which is fairly restrictive.
WINNER: In today's era of no landlines, the Novus flexibility is nothing special. Telus and Novus tie with their simple savings of $5 per month for two bundled services.
This is the most subjective component of the guide. Customer service is extremely important to most consumers—yet it's so difficult to quantify and compare. Telus is by far the biggest company of the three with more than 30,000 employees. This can be both a good and bad thing. Telus has the biggest call centres, allowing for greater hours and more people to reach. But it can also mean you deal with robot-types and in serious situations it can be hard to access the right person. Novus prides itself on great customer service but has fewer resources to exercise.
WINNER: Without a method to quantify, there can't be a clear winner. Novus does offer a more personal approach, however.
Telus tries to push three-year contracts on consumers by offering six months of promotional pricing. We believe that home internet should never require a fixed-term contract. When Novus offers promotional pricing, it does not force you to sign a fixed-term contract—that's how it should be. Novus promotional pricing also often lasts one year, whiel Telus and Shaw deals generally are only for six months.
WINNER: Novus is the most transparent about its terms and never tricks you into long-term paperwork.
Telus and Shaw are both available for virtually every house and condo in Metro Vancouver and most of BC. Novus, however, only works on a building-by-building basis in the downtown core of the city and in the urban cores of some surrounding areas such as Surrey and Burnaby. This makes it much less accessible for most users.
WINNER: Shaw and Telus take this one home.
It's clear by the numbers that Novus offers the best value. Not only is it the most affordable, it also offers the most competitve download speeds, upload speeds, and transfer limits. The starting package is especially good—for less than $40 per month, you have internet that's fast enough for a whole family to simultaneously use the internet. Unfortunately, Novus' extremely narrow scope of accessibility greatly hinders it. So it boils down to a simple conclusion: if your condominium building supports Novus, use it. Otherwise, go with Shaw. It offers slightly greater overall value than Telus.