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Sizing up the NHL 5G Experience in Canada

As the 2023-24 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season progresses, hockey enthusiasts from all over Canada are thronging to the arenas to cheer for their favorite teams — eager to witness both incredible puck-handling and intense game clashes. However, in today's world, the game is not just limited to what happens on the ice. The widespread usage of smartphones and internet connectivity enables a more immersive experience, both inside and outside the stadium.

In this analysis, Opensignal focuses on the 5G network experience at and around the seven Canadian NHL arenas — Bell Centre, Canada Life Centre, Canadian Tire Centre, Rogers Arena, Rogers Place, Scotiabank Arena and Scotiabank Saddledome — to assess how different wireless carriers stack up. Our findings show that across all seven NHL arenas, Bell and Telus users enjoy the fastest 5G download speed, while Rogers leads in terms of 5G upload speed and 5G Availability. As the NHL fanbase extends beyond those physically present in the stadiums and many across Canada will be streaming the event live on their smartphones, we have analyzed the 5G Live Video Experience across the ten largest Canadian cities. Rogers is top for this measure of the 5G experience across all 10 — either jointly or outright.

NHL 5G experience at the arenas 

Bell and Telus users enjoy the fastest 5G download speeds at and around the NHL arenas, 203-240.4Mbps on average, while those on Rogers clock in at 194.7Mbps.

However, when it comes to upload speeds, Rogers comes out on top with 5G upload speeds averaging 46.6 Mbps — 41.4-54% than Telus and Bell.

Fast download and upload speeds are only helpful when you can latch onto an active cellular signal. Our analysis of 5G Availability (% time) shows that Rogers reigns supreme in 5G Availability, with users being able to spend 30.9% of the time with an active 5G connection.

Our findings show that all three carriers have made substantial investments in enhancing mobile connectivity for the fortunate fans who are able to attend in person. In comparison to the national averages seen in our August 2023 report, the experience at these venues is significantly better. Users at and around Canadian NHL venues now enjoy an average 5G download speed that is 25.9% to 38.4% faster and an average 5G upload speed that is 38.4% to 49.9% faster than the national average. Furthermore, 5G availability at these venues exceeds the national average by a substantial 2.2-2.6 times.

Our findings show that Rogers ranks first or joint first for the quality of mobile live video streaming with 5G across all ten cities. Telus shares the top spot with Rogers in six cities — Calgary, Edmonton, London, Quebec, Vancouver and Winnipeg — while Bell shares first place with Rogers in Hamilton, Kitchener and Toronto. Meanwhile, Rogers is the sole leader in Montreal for 5G Live Video Experience. The quality of mobile live video streaming rates as Excellent (58 or above) in all 10 Canadian cities across all three operators.

With the NHL being the most popular sports league in Canada, drawing millions of viewers online, live streaming holds immense significance for Canadian consumers. Any operator offering the best Live Video Experience holds a competitive advantage, catering to the fervent ice hockey fanbase in the nation.

In the arenas, strong mobile networks are crucial for communication, safety, and engagement. They enable spectators to stay connected, facilitate mobile ticketing and cashless transactions, and improve overall convenience. They are also essential in the surrounding areas for booking transportation, finding parking, and exploring nearby businesses. Consequently, the operators with strong mobile network experience in these locations also have a distinct edge over the competition.