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Internet in Canada

Internet services in Canada can generally be purchased for a monthly fee on a 1, 2 or 3-year contract.

There are almost 27 million Internet users in Canada. The most popular native Canadian web sites are those of the major Canadian news companies. The most popular international web sites in Canada are Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Most companies, organizations, schools, and all levels of government in Canada have a strong Internet presence.

Services

Major Internet providers in Canada include Bell Internet, Bell Aliant, Telus, Shaw, Rogers, Eastlink, Sasktel, MTS, Colbanet, Videotron, Cogeco, and Teksavvy. Some Internet providers in Canada offer fibre optic services. Most offer DSL and IPTV services.

Internet prices range from $25 to $110 per month, depending on download/upload speeds, and usage caps.

The minimum speed for broadband Internet in Canada is 1.5 Mb/s. As of this writing, the fastest Internet speeds in Canada are 1GB/s download (Shaw) and 200 MB/s (Videotron and Eastlink). However, many products are advertised as ‘up to’ speeds. In reality, listed speeds may not be delivered regularly or in all areas.

Usage caps, or usage-based billing (UBB) have recently been introduced in Canada, limiting the monthly Internet usage of consumers. UBB allows Internet providers to charge you for every megabyte or gigabyte used over a certain threshold. For example, an Internet service plan might have a 25GB monthly cap, with a $1.90/GB over usage fee. Caps and over usage fees vary from company to company.

Be aware that many companies advertise introductory price offers, and that per monthly fees are likely to increase after 3, 6, or 12 months of your contract. You may also be charged monthly fees to rent equipment. GST and PST or HST is payable on all Internet services in Canada, including installation fees.

Installation fees are applicable, although some providers may offer free installation as an incentive. Internet services in Canada can usually be bundled with TV, telephone, and mobile for extra savings. Internet services are normally offered on 1, 2 and 3-year contracts. Disconnection fees are applicable if you break your contract.

Most Internet providers allow you to access your account and pay bills online, by telephone, or personally at an office or outlet.

Wi-Fi & Mobile Internet

Free Wi-Fi is available in many public places in Canada, including public parks, libraries, schools, airports, hotels, and some cafes and restaurants such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and some Tim Horton’s. Electronics stores such as BestBuy, Apple, and Future Shop also offer free Wi-Fi. Many municipalities, such as Toronto have free Wi-Fi in their downtown core, although these connections can be very busy and slow.

Free, public access computers are also available at libraries across Canada, but you will need a library card to use one.

Canada’s national airline, Air Canada, also offers in-flight Wi-Fi access.

Most Internet service providers in Canada offer mobile Internet services for $35-$70 per month, allowing consumers to connect to the Internet on their laptops while on the go.

Some mobile phone users in Canada can also tether their phones to their computers. When tethering, you are charged for Internet usage on your mobile phone bill.

Laws

In general, the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted materials, for profit or for personal use, is illegal under Canada’s Copyright Act.

By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.