Canada’s big three nationwide operators are now moving to 5G.
Telus announced in June that its 5G network was available in Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, and the Greater Toronto Area. The company added that it will continue to expand to an additional 26 markets across Canada throughout the remainder of the year. Bell also said in June that its 5G service was available in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. And Rogers revealed in March that it was offering 5G service in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
But Canadian operators are somewhat limited to deploying 5G in lower spectrum bands for now because the government has delayed the auction
of desirable 3.5 GHz mid-band spectrum until June 15, 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One interesting new development in the Canadian wireless market is the launch of Shaw Mobile, a new 4G wireless service that debuted at the end of July (after the data collection period for this report). Launched by Shaw Communications, Shaw Mobile is only available in British Columbia and Alberta.
Canadian users still benefit from having some of the fastest 4G network speeds around. As we found in our State of the Mobile Network Experience 2020 report earlier this year, Canada and South Korea deliver the fastest download speeds of all the countries that we measure, clocking in with average download speeds around 59 Mbps.
In this report we noticed that two of the three mobile operators saw slight declines of 2.3 Mbps and 2.2 Mbps in their Download Speed Experience compared to our February report. However, this data was collected from April 1 until June 30, during the height of calls from the Canadian authorities to stay at home when possible (which began around
mid-March), we attribute this decline to the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries stay-at-home orders resulted in an increase in mobile data consumption. We examined this trend more closely in our Mobile Network Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic: June update.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on mobile network experience. Overall, the Canadian experience has been resilient compared with many countries. But there have been changes in mobile data consumption both in the volume of data and the locations where users are consuming mobile data. In some areas this has increased load on mobile networks. COVID-19 was one of the reasons behind declines that we saw in Video Experience rankings, Voice App Experience rankings and Upload Speed Experience scores as well.
Nonetheless, Canadian operators continued to make strides in 4G Availability, which measures the proportion of time 4G users spend connected to 4G. Rogers made the biggest jump, moving up to first place with a score of 94.2% and it is now close to achieving the highly coveted 95% mark for 4G Availability.
In 4G Coverage Experience Telus and Bell tied for first place. This measures how mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator’s network relative to locations visited by users of all network operators.
In this latest report, we've analyzed the mobile network experience for Canada’s three nationwide operators, Telus, Bell and Rogers, over a 90-day period starting April 1 and ending June 29. Along with our national analysis, we've also examined the operators’ scores in 11 of the largest cities.