Back in 2012, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos offered his opinion on Canada’s internet, describing it as something approaching a human rights violation. The country, he stressed, had such low levels of access due to high costs that it was a) limiting the reach of the popular streaming platform and b) ensuring that Canada had one of the worst internet networks in the world.
The concern for Netflix was two-fold. For one, many of Canada’s internet providers are owned by media colossi, which means that they operate in the same space as Netflix. They are, in effect, competitors of the streaming service. Back then, Canada’s broadband companies also charged by usage rather than offering a monthly or yearly subscription service, much like Netflix does.
In the latter case, this means that customers could expect to be charged per megabyte of each Rick and Morty or Stranger Things episode watched. Inevitably, this produced enormous bills and priced Netflix out of the market, even though it had no control over the customers’ broadband costs themselves.
The problem now is that Canada’s internet has evolved in plenty of new ways since then.
The streaming market is, of course, much bigger with giants like Amazon and Sky wading into the mix. However, there have been plenty of developments that have made Canada’s problematic internet more of a national crisis. Video game streaming is a good example, with the niche splitting into two elements – viewing, as in Twitch and YouTube Gaming, and playing, with Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now relying on cloud-based services rather than consumer hardware.
HD streaming is also applicable to iGaming companies. Live dealers are available at a casino online here. They attempt to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences such as blackjack and roulette but they can place a strain on slow internet connections. Modern interactive media often assumes a high-speed network as a default position, which can make things difficult for those on less expensive plans.
So, what’s the solution? Technologist Elon Musk may provide an unlikely salve to Canada’s internet woes. The news site CBC.ca cites the example of a businessman who was able to move to Canaan Forks, New Brunswick, due to the availability of StarLink, Musk’s satellite internet company. Canaan Forks is in the middle of nowhere, which demonstrates the potential of StarLink.
Urban vs. Rural
Unfortunately, it’s only a potential problem-solver at present. Coverage is spotty and getting started is expensive. According to Tom’s Guide, StarLink requires an up-front fee of US$499 as well as a $99 monthly subscription fee. StarLink is designed to be inexpensive in the future, though. At present, it does provide an incentive for providers to replace the decades-old copper infrastructure, simply because it may prove a stiff competitor in a few years’ time.
The difference in internet speeds between urban and rural areas is reportedly 74.2mb/s to 13mb/s. While only 18.44% of the Canadian population qualifies as rural, it’s still difficult to find much positive to say about the state of its internet network.