Latest Internet Performance Test data from CIRA shows that a significant digital divide persists in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UPDATE: Since this press release was first issued, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced $72 million for five internet access projects in Canada’s north — the first funded projects from it’s $750 million Broadband Fund. You can see the details here.
August 12, 2020 – OTTAWA – New data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s (CIRA) Internet Performance Test shows that Canada’s massive urban-rural digital divide persists during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the median download speeds received by rural Canadians was roughly 10 times slower than those experienced by their urban counterparts, while urban internet performance has steadily improved and outpaced rural improvements since the pandemic began.
In early May, Rural Economic Development Minister Maryam Monsef announced that the government would accelerate the rollout of its $1.7 billion Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) to help improve rural internet access, and promised in June that the fund would be launched “in the coming days.” To date, neither the federal government’s $1.7B UBF nor the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s $750M Broadband Fund have announced any funded internet access projects. Since March, nearly twenty communities have partnered with CIRA to better understand internet access in their local area.
- Between March and July, urban internet users saw an average download speed increase of about 25 Mbps, while rural speeds have not notably improved.
- In July, median rural download speeds were measured at 5.62 Mbps, compared to 51.54 Mbps in urban Canada – a difference of approximately 10 times (Figure 1).
- Since the pandemic began, median download speeds have plateaued around 5.5 Mbps for rural internet users (Figure 2).
- Measured urban download speeds have nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic. In March, the median download speed was 26.16 Mbps, compared to 51.54 Mbps in July.
- For rural users, median upload speeds are consistently 10 times slower than urban speeds, on average, and have been on the decline since the pandemic began (falling from 1.2 Mbps in March to 0.90 Mbps in July).
The data is based on test results generated between May 2019 and July 2020 from a total of 130,794 urban tests and 56,982 rural tests. Since the launch of CIRA’s Internet Performance Test, Canadians have completed over 720,000 tests. Canadians can help promote faster internet for all by taking CIRA’s Internet Performance Test at performance.cira.ca.
Figures and Graphs