Formerly last-ranking Rogers appears to have lived up to its promise of boosting capacity.
Netflix has released its latest rankings of internet providers and the speeds they’re providing to customers who use the online streaming service.
The good news in Canada is that Rogers improved markedly in August from earlier in the year, when it ranked last, to seventh or around the middle of the pack. The bad news is that Telus was the goat among major Canadian ISPs.
Back in May, Rogers said it was adding capacity to improve its customers’ Netflix experience, which was averaging a lowly 1.67 megabits per second. Judging by the results, where stream speeds in August were typically 3.01 megabits, the company has lived up to its promise.
That’s still a worse result than the slowest ISP speed in the Netherlands, which leads the 20 countries in Netflix’s rankings, but it’s pretty good by North American standards.
Telus, on the other hand, ranked 10th in Canada with an average speed of 2.89 megabits. The company did not return a request for comment on its poor showing.
Cogeco and Distributel, two smaller ISPs, fared even worse, as did a number of DSL options from Bell, MTS and Eastlink. Netflix’s rankings are strong evidence that the older, slower DSL technology is becoming less and less relevant.
The timing of the rankings release looks intentional, with this past week seeing a flurry of broadband-related activity, especially in the United States.
Federal Communications Committee Chairman Tom Wheeler has been on a tear of late, announcing in a speech that the U.S. was lacking in meaningful broadband competition, and that the regulator would be looking at raising the minimum qualifying broadband speed to 10 megabits from 4 megabits.
“Three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st century economics and democracy,” he said.
Wheeler also separately told a wireless conference in Las Vegas that the industry could soon be hit with the same net neutrality rules as found on wired networks.
Ironically, Wednesday was “Internet Slowdown Day,” where certain websites and services displayed protest messages about a proposal Wheeler floated earlier this year that would allow for the creation of prioritized content online.
Fight for the Future, the advocacy group leading the charge against the proposal, reports that more than half a million people sent opposing comments to the FCC on Wednesday, bringing the total since March to 4.7 million.
The issues of speed and net neutrality are closely linked, with the competition problem Wheeler spoke of being the glue that binds them. Critics say that if the U.S. had meaningful competition between ISPs, speeds would be better and net neutrality wouldn’t be a concern since any nefarious activity – like Comcast’s purposeful slowdown of Netflix earlier this year – would be self-correcting.
The FCC’s increasingly harsh stance against wireless and internet providers, which includes a push against states that have banned municipal broadband projects, is entertaining for Canadians to watch because it looks like U.S. authorities are starting to emulate what’s been happening in Canada for the past few years.
Things are getting increasingly tough for telecom companies on both sides of the border.