Competition Bureau finds Canadians with independent ISPs happier with service

The Competition Bureau’s study of competition and consumer habits in Canada’s high-speed Internet industry finds that a growing number of Canadian households are choosing an independent provider over big telecom for their high-speed internet.

The result of a year-long market study, undertaken to evaluate the state of competition in Canada’s broadband industry, saw 2,005 households surveyed between May 2018 and June 2019.

The bureau’s findings paint a positive picture with 90% of households reporting being generally satisfied with their current home internet provider. It found however that customers of independent providers are more likely to be very satisfied.

The report also found that in areas of the country where wholesale-based competitors have focused their marketing efforts, they served approximately one in every six households at the end of 2018. That translates into more than 1,000,000 Canadian households now served by a wholesale competitor.

Current customers of wholesale-based competitors were more likely to respond that they were “very satisfied” with both their current ISP and their choice of ISPs than those who purchase services from facilities-based competitors.

Consumers in rural areas expressed less overall satisfaction, citing a general lack of options between ISPs and the reliability of services available, including whether promised speeds were actually being delivered.

Of those who responded that they were not “very satisfied” with their ISP, 77% indicated dissatisfaction with the cost of their internet service, while 40% had concerns about quality of service.

Canadians like bundles

Other key findings include that 66% of households bundle their internet with at least one other service, but just 17% of those bundles include wireless phone services. Two in five respondents have three or more services in their bundle, with television most likely to be bundled with internet.

The bureau’s analysis found that highlighting the potential to save money without providing information about actual dollar savings increased the percentage of customers choosing the bundle by 22 percentage points, compared to a generic bundle that did not explicitly highlight any ostensible benefit. Similarly, highlighting the convenience of the bundle increased preference for the bundle by 15 percentage points.

Consumer switching behaviour

The report found that one in three households that considered switching providers in the past two years actually made a switch, with more than half of the consumers surveyed having considered a move. Of those, 17% started the process of switching but ultimately decided to stay with their current provider. The remaining 53% took no further action beyond considering a switch.

Younger subscribers, aged 18-34, were almost three times more likely to switch providers in the past two years than those aged 65 or older. Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan were less likely to consider switching, whereas those in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces thought about switching more frequently.


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