Canadians looking to trim their monthly household expenses often look to lower the cost of their internet plan first. With so many options available, it seems like there’s a right-size plan for every home.
But what do you sacrifice when you go to a lower-cost plan? Is it possible to balance internet speed and bandwidth with a lower-priced plan? Is it possible to find the best internet plans in Canada with a combination of the power you need to download, stream and game at an affordable rate? We looked at over 80 different internet service providers to help you discover the best plans Canada has to offer.
Bandwidth and Speed: How to Read the Best Internet Plans in Canada
When reading up on internet plans, there are three numbers that will often recur: bandwidth, download speed, and upload speed. Although bigger might seem better, each of these numbers represent different aspects of your internet plan depending on what you value the most.
Bandwidth represents the total amount of data you use every month across all of your devices – mobile, laptop, desktop, and TV. You can think of bandwidth as a data cap: your internet speed will not be affected so long as you stay below that threshold. A bandwidth-limited plan is good for those who only plan on using their internet for light applications, like checking e-mail, using social media, or surfing the web. But if you plan on streaming video from your favorite services, or playing games online, you mat be better served by an unlimited data plan.
Download speed is the primary measure of “internet speed.” The number reflects the maximum rate at which you can access files. As the name suggests, bigger is better: the higher your download speed is, the faster you get files, music and videos. If you are a “cord-cutter” and prefer to get all your entertainment online, then you will want a plan with a high download speed.
On the converse, upload speed is how fast you send data back out to the internet. While this number may not seem like a big deal, it’s very important if you plan on playing online games in real time with other players. Because online gaming relies on uploading information from your computer as well as downloading other player’s actions, a fast upload speed ensures that you gain a competitive edge. If online gaming from a console or PC is important to you, then you will want an internet plan with high upload speed.
Reading the Fine Print: What to look out for
Once you’ve decided what’s most important to you, the next step is to look at the fine print and understand the terms of your plan. Although most offer upfront pricing, there are some key indicators you will want to look for in every internet plan.
First, understand if your internet plan offers a promotional price for an amount of time. Many internet plans offer a lower price for the first 12 months, then jump to a higher rate for the second year and beyond. While there’s nothing wrong with getting an internet plan 12 months at a time, shopping around requires an understanding of the price you are trying to beat when the price increases.
Next, find out if your internet plan requires you to sign a contract to lock in a price. Two-year contracts often have a lower price in the first 12 months, then jump to the “regular” price in the second year. And if you want to get out of the contract, you will have to pay a cancellation fee. If you decide to agree to a two-year contract, be sure to understand when your price may change and if you can afford the hike.
Finally, if you decide on a bandwidth-limited plan, be sure to understand what penalties you may face if you go over your data limit. While some plans will slow down your internet speed if you go beyond the limit, others may charge you an overage fee, based on how much more data you use. Not knowing the terms of your contract can cost you a lot of money down the line.
The Best Internet Plans in Canada
Now that you understand what you are looking for in an internet plan, and how to interpret the fine print, it’s time to start looking for the right service for you. After a thorough search, here are the best plans based on your budget.
The Best Value (Low-Cost) Internet Plans in Canada
Virgin doesn’t just offer cell phone service – they also provide great value on their internet plans as well! For $50, you can get an unlimited-use internet plan with up to 25 Mbps download speed, and up to 10 Mbps upload speed. If you need more speed, they offer plans up to 100 Mbps down for only $20 more.
Available in every province, TekSavvy offers everything from basic cable internet, all the way up to high-speed fibre. Prices for basic services start under $35 per month, and all come with unlimited bandwidth options. The basic package offers download speeds of 15 Mbps, perfect for casual surfing and social media.
For those living in Ontario and Quebec who just want a basic unlimited plan, Acanac delivers with an unlimited bandwidth 15 Mbps internet package for $39 per month. If more speed is important, their next highest tier only costs $6 more.
The Best Mid-Tier Internet Plans in Canada
Available across Canada, VMedia’s most popular mid-tier plan is their Cable 150 plan, offering 150 Mbps download speed and 15 Mbps uploads, with no bandwidth limit. Regularly priced at $66.95 per month, the company sometimes offers sign-up discounts for new users.
Using a hybrid-fibre setup, Bravo Telecom offers high speed internet at a competitive price. Their 60 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up plan is their most popular, at $46 per month. Internet can also be packaged with other products, including television or home telephone.
One of the oldest names in the Canadian telecom industry, Shaw offers multiple plans based on your budget. Their 150 Mbps plan costs $105, but comes with a two-year contract. However, Shaw makes up for that with access to over 100,000 hotspots across Canada, and a reputation for solid customer support.
The Best High-End Internet Plans in Canada
Bell is a leader in fibre internet connections across Canada, and their internet speeds show it. Their most popular plan is the Bell Gigabit Fibe 1.5 plan, offering 1.5 Gbps download speed – around 10X faster than the mid-tier plans. At $124.95 plus a $59.99 one-time activation fee, this plan also comes with home Wi-Fi, McAfee Security, and Bell e-mail.
Another one of Canada’s telecom giants, Rogers Internet offers unbridled speed at a fair price. The Rogers Ignite Internet Gigabit offers 1 Gbps download speeds for $99.95, perfect for connecting multiple devices to stream and game online. In addition, Rogers offers many different services to compliment your experience, from television and home monitoring plans, to even credit cards that earn cash back when you pay your Rogers bill!