The internet speed gap between urban and rural communities is slowly inching closer, the CIRA’s annual Internet Performance Test (IPT) reveals.
The report shows urban speeds were still 3.8 times faster than rural speeds between March 2021 and 2022, but this was an improvement from the 6.1 times reported in 2020 and 2021.
The rural download speed was 7.2Mbps in 2020. It rose to 20.9Mbps in Q1 2022, almost triple the speed compared to the beginning of the pandemic. Upload speeds also increased, going from 1Mbps to 2.2Mbps.
But as the report notes, these figures are below what the federal government considers to be “high-speed internet,” with download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps.
Comparatively, download speeds in urban settings continue to increase at a faster rate. The media speed went from 47.2Mbps in 2020 to 74.6Mbps in Q1 2022.
While the gap is closing, the repeated trend of faster internet speeds in urban settings compared to rural settings is still present. For example, the media download speeds for urban settings was 23.4Mbps in 2018, which was higher than the rural speeds seen in the current report.
“While the improvement in rural speeds is a step in the right direction, this report unfortunately still paints a grim picture of the state of connectivity in many parts of Canada,” Tanya O’Callaghan, CIRA’s vice-president of community investment, policy and advocacy, said.
The CIRA says they hope the gap will continue to close as government bodies invest in broadband infrastructure across the country.
The median download speed in Newfoundland and Labrador was 84.5Mbps in Q1 2022, almost 60Mbps faster than the 25.1Mbps reported in Alberta. The figure represents Atlantic Canada’s hold on having the fastest urban median download speeds.
While Alberta has the slowest rural download speeds with 15.4 Mbps, Ontario joins it for having slower rural download speeds compared to the national average of 21.6Mbps.
Data for the analysis was collected from 2021 and January to April of 2022. It consisted of 183,926 urban tests and 185,193 rural tests.
Image credit: CIRA