CRTC begins first national broadband study in Canada

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is gathering data from the homes of 4,500 citizens across Canada in a study intended to improve its broadband policymaking by gaining a better understanding of network performance.

Measuring Broadband Canada SamKnows

SamKnows and the CRTC set up a signup page for Canadians to join the broadband study. (Source: Measuring Broadband Canada)

Measuring Broadband Canada is a major element of a wide-ranging review by the CRTC of Canada's basic telecommunications systems. Announced in April, the commission is exploring a number of issues in the  country's telecommunications systems to find out which areas are being underserved. The broadband study is the first national, independent report on just how well -- or how poorly -- high-speed networks are performing.

The data collection study is being conducted with the cooperation of Canada's major ISPs, including Rogers, Vidéotron, Shaw, TELUS, Cogeco, Bell Canada, Eastlink, MTS Allstream, Northwestel and Bell Aliant. The commission is collaborating with SamKnows on the project.

The 4,500 citizens who will be part of the study were selected from 28,000 applicants and, while picked on a "first-come, first-serve basis" offer a "fair geographical representation" of Canada's Internet customers. The CRTC has installed "Whiteboxes" in the selected participants' homes that monitor and test a range of products provided by the ISPs that serve these homes including actual broadband connection speeds and network performance.

The test does not collect information on participants' online activities, and testing is only done when participants are not actively using their Internet collection, the commission said.

"Through this project, that we launched with SamKnows and major Internet service providers across the country, we will be able to take into account the actual performance of their Internet services during the development of our policies," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC. "This initiative illustrates concretely the CRTC's approach to evidence-based decision making."

The CRTC will issue a preliminary report on the results of the test in spring 2016.

For more:
- see the release
- see the Measuring Broadband Canada website
- see this review notice

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