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A newcomers guide to Internet plans in Canada

By cvf, 03/14/2024


Getting an internet plan in Canada is one of the first things you’ll need to do, whether you’re new to the country or thinking about moving there. 

The Internet helps you find a job, talk to your family and friends around the world, do schoolwork, or watch your favourite shows. There are different ways to get the Internet in Canada, but don’t worry—we’re here to help you figure it out.

We’ll show you what you need to get started, how to pay for your Internet (and how you might even get it for free!), and share some tips to help you pick the best Internet plan for you and your needs.

What affects the cost of internet plans in Canada

  • Speed:  Your internet speed is how fast you can download from and upload to the World Wide Web. 
    • You can measure Internet speeds in: 
      • Kilobytes per second (Kbps) slow
      • Megabytes per second (Mbps) – average to fast
      • Gigabytes (Gbps)- extremely fast

Faster Internet usually costs more. If you like to watch videos, play games online, or have many people in the same household using the Internet at the same time, you might need a faster speed. A slower speed may be fine if you’re a single person using the Internet for simple web browsing, email, and chat. 

  • Data limit: Your internet plan may limit how much data you can use each month. If you use the Internet often for things like streaming movies or downloading large files, you might need a plan with more data, which can be more expensive. Unlimited internet plans in Canada exist, and there are no limits on the amount of data you can use, but they might cost more.
  • Type of connection: The technology your internet service provider, or ISP, uses to bring the Internet to your home can affect the price. Some common types are digital subscriber line or DSL (which is often a simple phone line), cable (similar to cable television), fibre-optic (a wire that allows for faster speeds), and satellite, which is excellent for more remote locations where cables, may not be available. Fibre-optic Internet is usually the quickest but can be more expensive. Cable is common and less costly. DSL is the cheapest, but its speeds are slower. 
  • Rental equipment: To connect to the Internet, you need to rent a modem or router from the Internet service provider (ISP), and they will add this rental cost to your monthly bill. Some providers will include the rental as part of your internet plan. A modem gives you Internet, and a router gives you Wi-Fi. You can rent combination modems and routers. Buying your own equipment can save money in the long run, but you have to make sure it’s compatible with your ISP.
  • Installation and activation fees: Some companies charge a one-time fee to set up your internet service. This fee can affect the initial cost but is a one-time payment. You can negotiate with your ISP to avoid this fee. 
  • Bundles: Many companies offer bundles that include Internet, phone, and TV services. Getting a bundle can save money compared to buying each service separately, but make sure you need all the services in the bundle. For example, they may try to sell you a home phone line, but you already have a cell phone or a TV package, and you only stream YouTube or Netflix.
  • Promotions and discounts: ISPs often offer special deals, like discounts, when signing a long-term contract. These can make an expensive plan more affordable at first, but it’s important to know how much the cost will increase after the promotion ends or what happens if you break the contract early. 
  • Location: Where you live can also affect the price. Some areas, like major cities, might have more competition between ISPs, which can lead to lower prices. Rural or remote areas might have fewer options and higher prices because it’s more expensive for companies to provide service there.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can better understand what affects the cost of internet plans in Canada and choose one that fits your needs and budget.

Internet plans – average pricing and Fees

The average cost of internet plans in Canada is $72.09, with speeds ranging from 25 Megabytes per second (Mbps) to 3 Gigabytes per second (Gbps). Again, bundles, discounts, and your location may affect the pricing and speeds available. 

Here is a list of prices of average internet costs in Canada. 

Service Fees
DSL – Offering speeds up to 25  Mbps $50-$70 per month
Cable – Offering speeds from 75 Mbps to 1Gbps $50-$100 per month
Satellite – Offering speeds from 50 to 150 Mbps $140-$635 per month
Fiber optic – Offering speeds up to10 Mbps to 3 Gbps $55-$110 per month
Installation fees Many ISPs charge for the initial setup, and the pricing can vary significantly depending on the difficulty of the installation. Expect to pay between $25 and $125. 
Modem and router rental fees ISPs often charge a monthly fee to rent their equipment, ranging from $5 to $15, or they may include it in your monthly bill. 

You can save on these fees over time by purchasing a compatible modem and router but do your research. 

Activation fees This is a one-time fee when you start a new service or activate a new modem. The average activation fee for Internet in Canada is $25-$60. 
Cancellation fees If you need or want to cancel your contract before the contract is over, you may be charged a fee to disconnect your service and return your modem. It may be a flat fee of $25-$50 or a fee relative to how much time remains on your contract. Be sure to ask questions and read the paperwork carefully. 

How to choose the right internet plan in Canada


When selecting an internet plan, consider the following steps to choose a plan that fits your needs. 

 Step 1: Determine your household’s needs and desires

To understand how much data you’ll need and how fast your internet speed should be, ask yourself some questions:

  • What type of internet user are you? Do you stream movies and play video games online, or do you mainly use it to browse the Internet and check your email?
  • How many people are using the Internet in your home? A family of 4 who attend work and school during the day may use little data, but a student with roommates who attend virtual classes from home and send large files may need more data and speed. 
  • How many devices are connected to the Internet? Does everyone in your home have a laptop, a tablet, and a cell phone? Do you use any smart devices, like a TV or smart speaker? The more devices you have, the more data you will use. 

In 2024, most internet plans offer unlimited data. But, read your contract carefully because unlimited may mean an extremely high amount of data (such as 1,000 Megabytes or a Terabyte) and if you go over this “unlimited” limit (because you’re downloading or sending large files, you may have to pay extra fees. 

We recommend opting for unlimited because the price difference between a basic plan and unlimited may be small. If you go over the limit of a basic plan, the surcharges could be expensive. 

As shown in the table above, if you need speed (streaming movies, sending large files, attending virtual meetings), then get a cable line at the very least (ideally, a fibre optic line), but if you’re only browsing the Internet and using chat functions, you can go with a slower speed. 

 Step 2: Find out how much you can afford

One of the easiest budgeting methods is the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your income goes to your needs, such as your home or rent, transportation, and groceries, and 30% to your wants, like going to restaurants, attending events, or enjoying a vacation, and 20% to investing and paying off debt. 

The Internet is a need, and you should spend 1% on your Internet plan in Canada. For example, if your annual salary is $60,000, you will pay $50 per month on the Internet. 

Of course, if your budget doesn’t match your need for Internet, you can spend more but may have to cut back on vacation, investments, or debt repayment. 

 Step 3: Research the provider and technology options for your home address

If you’re in a major city, large and small internet service providers are available. In remote areas, there will be fewer internet service providers. 

The largest Internet suppliers in Canada are Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Vidéotron and Cogeco. 

These companies form the backbone of internet services across Canada. Bell and Rogers are the primary providers in Ontario, while Shaw and Telus serve most of Western Canada, and Vidéotron is in Québec. 

There are over 250 Internet service providers in Canada, and most rely on the systems and equipment of these largest suppliers, such as Virgin Internet. Virgin Internet can offer cheaper prices on internet plans because they’re buying service at wholesale pricing and don’t have to pay for system maintenance. 

Virgin runs on Bell internet. According to Statista, Bell is the most-used ISP in Canada based on usage, indicating Bell’s broad reach and its variety of offerings, including television and mobile phones, across different regions of Canada. 

 Step 4: Understand the plans offered

We’ll use Virgin as an example of internet plans in Canada

Plan name Details Price
Unlimited Internet 50
  • 50 Mbps download max
  • 10 Mbps upload max
  • Unlimited usage 
  • Wi-Fi included
$70 per month, but a current $25/month discount exists when you sign up for a year, making your price only $45/month. 

A $150 installation fee applies if you decline self-install. 

Unlimited Internet 100 100 Mbps download max

10 Mbps upload max 

Unlimited monthly usage

Wi-fi Modem included

$80 per month, but there is a $30 per month credit when you sign up for one year, making your price only $50 per month.

A $150 installation fee applies if you decline self-install. 

Unlimited Internet 300 300 Mbps download max

100 Mbps upload max

Unlimited monthly usage

Wi-fi Modem included

$95 per month, but there is a $40 per month discount when you sign up for 12 months.  

A $150 installation fee applies if you decline self-install. 

Any cost per month means the monthly fee you’ll pay to Virgin to access and maintain your service. 

Step 5: Choose your Internet plan

Now that you know your internet needs, your budget, and the providers in your geographical area and their internet plans, you can select the one that best meets your situation. 

Your choice should consider your ability to pay the fee monthly and meet the speeds and data you need to meet your usage requirements. Failure to pay a bill due to a lack of money could cause your internet service to stop and damage your credit score, making it harder to get new credit cards or take out financial loans. If you need more internet speed, you can call your ISP and ask for an upgrade, but know this may incur extra installation fees if you need to change the modem or router. 


Step 6: Look for ways to save money

  1. If a telephone line, cable, or fibre optic line has already been pulled and connected to your home, you can install the modem and router yourself, saving you the installation fee. Be sure to ask on the phone or in-store when you sign up for any internet plan in Canada. 
  2. If you pay with an automatic debit from your bank account, your ISP pays no merchant fees, but it may take longer to reach their account. That could result in a late payment fee. If you pay by credit card, your ISP could pay a merchant fee of up to 4%, so if you can save them money by paying with debit, ask if they’ll reduce your monthly amount owing (your bill).
  3. If you’re not on an unlimited internet plan, monitor your usage. If there are kids at home online or you work from home, you may be close to exceeding your limit so that you will pay more fees. If you’re on an unlimited plan but find it hard to pay, check how much Internet you’re using to see if you can reduce your cost by switching to a plan with limits. 
  4. If you’re paying for top speeds but are experiencing slow downloads or choppy streaming during your favourite Netflix show, visit speedtest.net to analyze your speed for free. If the internet speeds differ from what you’re paying for, call your provider and ask for a discount. You may need to run the test several times and take screenshots as proof. Also, know that posted speeds are when you’re directly connected to the modem; Wi-Fi speeds will be slower because the Internet has to travel through the air and connect to your device. 
  5. If you’re buying a new internet plan in Canada for the first time or need a new one, this is the best time to negotiate a better rate. Your provider may reward you for always paying on time, or you can show them a competitive offer from another supplier and see if they will match the price (or offer a lower price). 
  6. If you have Internet, a mobile phone, and a TV, you can bundle or package the items together for a better price and more savings. 
  7. If you still need to buy a plan, search online for promotional codes or discounts on public forums like Reddit or redflagdeals.com. Be sure to mention the codes when you ask about getting your internet plan. 
  8. If you plan on paying with a credit card, look for a cash-back credit card that could earn you between 2% and 4% cash back on recurring bill payments. 

 Step 7: Be aware of usage and stay on top of your payments

Stay within your data limit. You can set limits on your computer. Use Google to find out how based on the device you’re using. If your phone and television connect to the Internet, know that your computer may not report this usage, so stay alert and monitor closely as best you can. You may need to call your internet service provider and ask them. 

Always make your payments on time. If you miss a payment, you may be penalized with late fees and other charges. Even worse, your ISP may cancel your internet plan, and your credit could lose some points. Do your best to automate the payments so you’re always connected and never miss a payment. 

Shop around at renewal time. Before your contract is up, take some time to speak with friends and co-workers about their experiences. Now that you’re settled in and aware of all the internet service providers in Canada and the expected rates you’ll pay, you can compare internet plans and find the best price. Maybe this means staying loyal to your provider, who will give you a loyalty discount. 

Conclusion

I use Bell Fibe internet at home and have never had a problem in over three years. While my modem and router are good, I wanted extra reach in my backyard, so I purchased an Amazon Eero system to extend the reach. While this was expensive, I saw it as an investment. 

However, Virgin Internet stands out with its members’ rewards programs, through which you can save money and earn benefits on everyday purchases just by using its services. 

Please walk away from this article with a solid understanding of internet plans in Canada, the words they use, and how to select the best Internet for your needs. 

P.S. If you’re looking for free internet, check out your local library and many cafes will allow you to work for the price of a coffee. 

The post A newcomers guide to Internet plans in Canada appeared first on Canada Immigration and Visa Information. Canadian Immigration Services and Free Online Evaluation..

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