How to find the best internet provider in Canada

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Are you searching for a new internet provider? Whether you’re looking for a better deal than your current plan, or a newcomer to Canada who needs to get connected, there are plenty of service providers and a multitude of options. To help you find the best internet package for your needs, we break down the features to look for, and the terms to consider and provide an overview of the large providers and regional players that provide Canadians their online access.

Internet plans in Canada

Internet plans are offered by internet service providers (ISPs). When you sign up for an internet plan, you pay a monthly fee in return for internet access. The amount you pay per month varies depending on factors such as the type of internet connection, the connection speed, monthly data allowance and whether you pay month-to-month or billed based on a contract term (a length of time you agree to be the ISP’s customer).

There are hundreds of internet providers in Canada. Some of them are major companies that service large portions of the country, such as Bell and Rogers, while others are smaller providers that service specific provinces or cities. It’s also worth noting that many of these smaller providers don’t have their own broadband networks, but instead run on the networks of major providers, often at a reduced rate.(1)

Choosing an internet plan

Searching for the best internet plan in Canada? There are three key factors to take into account.

Factor #1: What types of internet connections are available in your area?

The first factor you need to consider when choosing an internet provider is where you live. Not only does this determine which internet providers offer plans in your area, but also the type of connection available to your area.

Why does this matter? Because connections offered by ISPs are not all equal and not all connection types are available in every Canadian region.

For instance, fibre-optic connections typically offer the fastest connection speeds, but they’re not available everywhere. Cable and DSL connections are widely available but not quite as fast, while satellite connections — the slowest and least reliable of the bunch — might be your best option if you live in a rural area.

To get a better idea of the types of connections available in your area, use the Government of Canada’s National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map.(2) Another option is to enter your address on the website of an internet service provider you’re considering, to find out what plans are available in your area.

Factor #2: Your internet usage needs

Next, think about how you use the internet. Do you only use it casually to read the news and answer emails, or do you stream lots of ultra-HD video content, watch fast-action sports or spend time online gaming? How many people use the connection — and how they use it — is also a big factor. For instance, you will need a faster more reliable connection if you are an online gamer, and like to watch sports, or work-from-home.

In general, the number of people and how they use the internet will determine the ideal connection speed and monthly data required by your household.

Learn more: What’s my internet speed?

Of course, the faster the connection speed, the better your online experience but you will pay more for faster download and upload speeds.

Some internet plans offer unlimited monthly data so you can browse, stream and download as much as you want. Other providers put a cap on your monthly data use, such as 100GB, and fees apply if you exceed this limit. In most cases, unlimited data plans cost more than plans with a monthly cap.

Factor #3: Your budget

Even if you want the top-of-the-line, unlimited internet package, how much you can realistically pay is a critical factor when selecting an internet provider.

Think about how much you’re willing to pay for your internet plan. Most internet providers offer multiple plans at different price points, with more expensive plans offering faster speeds and more data.

To give you a rough idea of how much you’ll have to pay, a 2022 report from Innovation, Science, and Development Canada(3) broke down the average cost of internet plans across Canada based on connection speed.

Connection speed
Average monthly price

3 to 9 Mbps
$47.61

10 to 15 Mbps
$50.42

16 to 40 Mbps
$59.01

41 to 100 Mbps
$75.38

101 to 250 Mbps
$91.50

251 to 500Mbps
$96.97

500 Mbps+
$104.75

To help you assess if the plan you are offered is decent, it’s good to use a benchmark. For instance, Bell — a publicly traded national telecommunications firm — is a market leader in the Canadian internet market due to its competitive internet plans that start at $49.95.

You can also compare the plan price to the typical price a Canadian pays for internet — between $30 and $170 per month. Of course, there is a huge gap even on the average internet plan cost because of a few factors. While unlimited plans tend to be more expensive, where you live also plays a large role in pricing. For instance, the average monthly plan for a Calgary resident is just under $80, while a Vancouver resident pays just under $25 and Ontario and Quebec residents spend just over $50 per month.

9 features to help you find the best internet provider in Canada

Your location will typically dictate what type of internet connection will be available to you. For example, customers living in remote locations might have fewer options than those who live in city centres simply due to their proximity to cable or fibre optic networks.

You can check out which connections and which internet companies are accessible in your area by considering providers in the table above and clicking on the see plan details for a more thorough review.

To compare plans and providers, consider the following nine features:

Speed. Internet speeds can range from 10Mbps to 1.5Gbps, depending on which provider you go with. Faster speeds will typically cost more but can be a better fit for large households or customers who use their internet to download and stream a significant amount of content.
Length of contract. Most internet providers will let you sign up for a month-to-month plan. That said, you might prefer to sign up for a long-term contract to take advantage of a promotional rate or special deal. Just be aware that you may need to pay a hefty fee if you want to cancel your service before the contract ends.
Data limits. Many providers offer unlimited data but some of the more basic plans may cap how much data you can use. This lets them charge overage fees if you go over your monthly limit. Keep an eye out for data caps and make sure you don’t go over your limits if you decide to sign up for a basic plan.
Setup. Check whether you can set up the connection yourself, or whether you’ll need to pay to have a technician come to your home and install the necessary equipment.
Price. The amount you’ll pay for Internet service typically depends on whether you use a budget service or a major telecom company. It also depends on how fast you want your internet to be. The lowest price you’ll typically get hovers around $30 per month for low-speed plans from budget providers. The highest cost is around $170 per month for 1Gbps+ speeds with larger Internet providers.
Extra fees. It’s a good idea to tally up all of the extras you’ll be required to pay for before you sign up for a plan. These can include fees for equipment, activation, installation and special features. By doing so, you’ll get a clearer idea of how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket right off the bat to get set up with your service.
Special offers. Some providers will let you save money by bundling your services while others offer monthly rebates or your first month free. Promotional offers vary by provider, so think about which one makes the most sense for you.
Customer support. Check how you can access customer support if you ever have a problem with your internet connection. Is the support team available 24/7?
Customer satisfaction. Check customer reviews on independent websites like Trustpilot to find out whether the ISP is recommended by other users. Does it offer fast and reliable internet to people in your area?

Best internet plans in Canada

Looking to find the best internet plans in Canada? You might like to check out some of the most popular plans offered by several reputable internet providers. From major internet companies with fibre-optic networks to smaller independent retailers running on cable and DSL, there’s a little something for everyone.

Best internet plans on a budget

You’ll typically get the cheapest plans with smaller independent companies. These internet companies will often run on cable or DSL networks instead of fibre-optic ones. This means speeds will be slower, but these plans are often a good fit if you only need an internet connection for basic use, such as browsing the web, answering emails or doing school work. If you require more bandwidth or faster speeds, consider whether or not these providers can offer higher-speed plans, and then compare the features with the costs.

Virgin Unlimited Internet 50 – $40 per month. This plan is only suitable for limited use and offers download speeds of up to 50Mbps along with upload speeds of up to 10Mbps.
Fizz 10Mbps plan – $35 per month. This is a basic plan that comes with download speeds of up to 10Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1.5Mbps. Plans with download speeds of up to 30 or 60Mbps are also available for less than $50 a month.
Acanac 25Mbps plan – $35 per month. Acanac offers a few plans with unlimited data. However, please note that this plan reverts to its standard monthly price of $60 after the first 24 months.

Best internet plans for lightning-fast speed

Most high-speed plans come with unlimited data and run on a fibre-optic network. Most of these plans cost a significant amount more each month than basic plans but for sports fans, gaming enthusiasts or anyone who works from home, these plans are ideal for your streaming needs.

Bell Gigabit Fibe 8.0 – $140 per month for two years ($155 thereafter). This plan operates on a fibre-optic network and offers super-fast speeds of up to 8Gbps. It also comes with a free security subscription and unlimited data.
Rogers Ignite Internet 2.5 Gigabit – $124.99 per month for the first two years ($134.99 thereafter). You’ll get fast download speeds of up to 2.5Gbps with this plan. Modem rental is also included.
TELUS Purefibre X 3 Gigabit Internet – $115 per month for the first two years and increasing to $145, thereafter. Offering download and upload speeds of up to 3Gbps, this fibre internet plan offers unlimited data for 24 months.

Don’t leave your internet provider, yet!

Want to switch to a new internet plan? To avoid fees and disappointment, be sure to check:

Ongoing contracts. If you’re on a long-term contract, there may be fees for breaking the contract ahead of time.
Early exit fees. Even if you’re not on a contract, some providers will still charge you for leaving before a certain amount of time.
Check supported speeds. Not all internet providers support all speed tiers. Make sure the setup at your house allows for that new high-speed connection you want to purchase.

4 steps to easily switch internet providers

Whether you need to cut costs or increase speed, here are the four steps to take to switch internet providers in Canada.

Step #1: Compare plans and providers

This is probably the hardest part of the entire process: Figuring out the right internet plan for your needs and budget. You’ll have to pick a provider, choose a speed tier and settle on a single plan.

Step #2: Give your internet provider notice

While your new provider will handle the actual service switch, remember to give your current provider at least 30 days’ notice.

This will help ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. Contacting them will also let you make sure that you’ve settled all outstanding accounts, and completed your contract, and allow for a penalty-free break. During this process, it’s a good idea to ask your current provider if you will incur any penalties or fees for switching — or if they can offer any incentives for staying. In some cases, a provider will impose a penalty if you break a contract early, while others will offer a great retention deal — a super-low rate or cashback incentive to keep you as a customer.

Step #3: Get ready for service transfer between providers

When switching, you don’t need to worry about the actual handover from internet provider to internet provider. In some cases, a new cable will need to be run by your new provider. If this is the case, they will walk you through the requirements and schedule an in-person tech appointment.

Two details to keep in mind are whether you had an email address associated with the old internet provider — such as @Bell or @Rogers — or a landline with the former internet provider. If you have an email address with the old provider you should transfer all your stored messages over to a free service, like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook, as well as set up an automatic response to alert people to your new email address.

If you have a landline phone number and you’d like to keep it, inform your new provider before your old service is cut off to make sure the transition takes place or, if the new provider doesn’t offer hardline service, to set up that service as a stand-alone produce with your old ISP.

Step #4: Check your hardware

If you own your modem, and it’s not older than a few years old, then you probably won’t have to do anything with your hardware. However, most people rent their modem from an ISP, which means you’ll need to pack up the modem, cables and power cords and return them to your former ISP. If you don’t take this step, the provider could charge you a ‘replacement’ or ‘purchase’ fee for the modem and this fee can be $100 or more.

Bottom line

There’s a large range of options to choose from if you’re searching for a new internet provider in Canada. Ultimately, the best internet plan for you will depend on where you live and your needs but knowing how to compare and what to compare will help you find the fastest connection at the best price.

Frequently asked questions about Canada internet plans

“How much is internet in Canada per month?”

The monthly cost of internet in Canada varies depending on where you live, the type of connection, the connection speed and any data limits that apply. Entry-level plans start at around $30 per month, while fibre internet with unlimited data and fast connection speeds can range from approximately $100 to $150 per month.

“Which Internet provider has the fastest internet in Canada?”

According to Speedtest(4), Bell Pure Fibre has the fastest internet in Canada at 277.24Mbps, followed by Rogers (273.32Mbps) and Shaw (243.11Mbps).

“Who are the best internet providers in Toronto?”

A wide range of internet providers offer home internet plans in Toronto, including Bell, Rogers, Virgin Plus and Fido. The best one for you will vary depending on your internet usage, your connection speed and monthly data needs, and your budget.

“Who are the biggest internet providers in Canada?”

Bell, Rogers and TELUS are the three largest internet providers in Canada. Shaw is another big name in the internet industry, but it was acquired by Rogers in 2023.

“Can I get unlimited internet plans on-the-go?”

If you want access to unlimited mobile data on your devices, many providers have different packages available. You should be able to get an assortment of mobile internet devices from large telecom providers. These include mobile internet sticks, portable Wi-Fi hubs and mobile phones that can hold a hotspot.

Unlimited mobile data plans are also offered by many providers, though you’ll typically get throttled speeds once you reach a certain level of usage. That’s why a fixed-line connection is usually the most practical choice in situations where a mobile connection isn’t essential.

“Do I have to give my current provider notice before switching?”

It’s best to give your current provider a bit of a heads-up before you switch to a new provider. Unlike switching mobile phone plans, not all internet providers will automatically switch you over to a new service. We recommend giving about a month’s notice, just so you can settle any outstanding amounts or issues before moving on.

“How long should it take to get connected to my new provider?”

You’ll usually find it takes only a couple of days to a week for your new provider to process your application and make the change. This timeframe can also be dependent on whether you’re waiting for a new modem to arrive in the mail. In most cases, if you can use your existing modem, the actual switch itself will take less than an hour. That means you’ll have your connection back up and running with minimal downtime.

About the Author

Tim Falk is a freelance writer for Finder. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, he has reported on a wide range of personal finance topics. Whether you’re investing in stocks and ETFs, comparing savings accounts or choosing a credit card, Tim wants to make it easier for you to understand. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors.

This article originally appeared on FinderCanada and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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