Super-fast gigabit Internet service finally coming to (some) Canadians

A technician strips back an ethernet cable at a Utah home as part of Google Fiber services. (Reuters)
A technician strips back an ethernet cable at a Utah home as part of Google Fiber services. (Reuters)

If you're tired of waiting for your TV shows or movies to finish downloading, you can now take advantage of Canada's fastest internet.

Released last week, Bell has started to roll out its premium Gigabit Fibe internet service which promises up to 940 megabits per second now and up to 1000 megabits per second or faster in 2016. To put that into perspective, you'll be able to download a 3 GB high-definition movie in about 25 seconds, your favourite music album in half a second or a 500 MB TV show in less than 5 seconds.

“Gigabit Fibe is tomorrow’s technology, offering consumers the Internet access speeds that will enable them to take full advantage of online advancements into the future,” wrote Rizwan Jamal, President of Bell Residential Services, in a press release.

In short, it's four times faster than its closest competition but it's also a service that could burn a hole in your wallet. As of now, existing Bell Fibe customers in Ontario and Quebec can upgrade to the newer speed for an extra $10 a month in a bundle. Consumers who want unlimited usage, though, will need to pony up about $150 a month; not a small fee for the casual user.

The real question on the minds of many, however, is why it took Canada so long to adopt this new technology despite it being readily available in the United States. Back in 2013, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachoski issued a Gigabit City Challenge which called for all 50 states to have, at the very least, one community with gigabit internet by 2015. With the fruits of their labours now starting to show with gigabit services offered by AT&T, Comcast, Google, CenturyLink and more, it's apparent Canada is lagging behind. Josh Tabish, Campaigns Manager for, has a possible reason as to why this could be the case.

"Big telecom giants will not invest in and upgrade networks unless pushed to do so by increased competition. For years, on fibre, they've had no competition [as] they were basically the only game in town," Tabish wrote in an email.

"As a result, there was no incentive for them to expand or upgrade. It was much easier to continue over charging and under-serving Canadians, who currently pay some of the highest prices in the world for what's widely recognized as poor service. When facing the choice of price-gouging Canadians, or investing in their network, they choose to sit on their piles of money," he said.

Tabish concedes that new infrastructure had to be built to house the gigabit service, however he says Bell could have done a better job with pricing and availability.

"Unfortunately, when it comes to access to high-speed fibre Internet, less than 3 per cent of Canadian Internet users are using fibre compared with 70 per cent in places like Japan or nearly 10 per cent in the United States. Canada has fallen way behind in terms of access."

Those with the need for speed will definitely find value in the unlimited Gigabit Fibe service. It offers unparalleled download speed at around 50 per cent more cost. Sure, it might be a hard sell for most residential and casual users but power consumers may find enough incentive here to upgrade – that is, if the service is available in their area. While you might not be inclined to hop on the service just yet, chances are you'll want to take advantage of a faster service sooner rather than later.

"Bandwidth usage per household is expected to triple in the next five years and the average number of devices per Internet connection could easily expand to a dozen per household," Tabish wrote.

"When it comes to Internet speeds, not everyone needs a Lamborghini but they do need access to a highway that can serve all their needs. Your 15Mbps connection may get you a solid stream of “House of Cards” episodes for now but, as more and more devices come to share the same connection and new innovative uses become common place, you can expect our current connection speeds won't keep up."

As of now, Gigabit Fibe is limited to Ontario and Quebec with Atlantic Canada expected to receive the service by the end of September. For the rest of Canada, though, it seems the waiting game might be in order.

“Bell’s Network team has been quickly expanding our fibre optic network in multiple cities and towns across eastern Canada, based both on consumer demand and support from municipalities in providing permits and other assistance for this massive investment in new Canadian communications infrastructure,” wrote Stephen Howe, Bell’s Chief Technology Officer, in a press release.

“Available to 1.3 million homes now, Gigabit Fibe will be available to a further 650,000 locations in the Atlantic provinces this fall and to 250,000 more in Québec and Ontario. By the end of the year, we’ll have about 2.2 million homes covered with the fastest Internet service available in Canada.”