Transparency and accuracy standards for broadband service ads in Canada are falling behind other countries’ new reforms

New PIAC Report: Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada

17 August 2022, OTTAWA – A new consumer research report published today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) updates a 2012 PIAC research project comparing broadband advertising practices in Canada with those in other countries. The 2022 report, entitled “Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada,” found that in the last decade, broadband advertisements in Canada have largely stayed the same, mainly advertising plans in terms of “up to” maximum speeds. On the other hand, under new regulations, ISPs in Australia and the UK advertise a tested average or a range of speeds, accompanied by consumer-friendly explanations of technical limitations, and detailed “suitability” information that help consumers match services to needs.

“In the last 5 years, regulators in Australia and the UK have become leaders in reforming how ISPs advertise broadband services to consumers,” stated Yuka Sai, a staff lawyer at PIAC. “Ads that show tested, average peak period speeds or a range of speeds is a lot more useful to consumers than ads that only advertise maximum possible speeds. Consumers’ actual experience does not always meet these high expectations.”

PIAC’s report also analysed developments in speed testing methods, including the CRTC’s two speed testing studies conducted in 2016 and 2019. The report also included input from various stakeholders, including ISPs, other consumer interest groups, and regulatory authorities like the CRTC and the CCTS. Based on lessons learned in other countries and through stakeholder consultations, PIAC compiled a list of recommendations to improve broadband advertising practices in Canada, and to ensure customers have adequate contractual remedies where services fail to meet advertised expectations.

To conduct this research project and prepare the report, PIAC received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of ISED or of the Government of Canada.

To see the full report, please consult the following link (English only): PIAC Report: “Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada”

A summary version of the report is available in English and French .

For more information, please contact:

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

Yuka Sai
Staff Lawyer
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ext. 122