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Tech publication 'surprised' by 'screaming' fast internet speeds in North Bay

'It's worth noting that the super-fast mobile speeds we recorded were found only in the city. As soon as we travelled a few kilometres down Highway 17 out of town, performance plummeted.'
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On a day when the federal government promised to increase its efforts to spread high-speed internet access to rural areas, a series of smartphone network tests by online tech publication PCMag.com is reporting North Bay proper benefits from some of the fastest speeds registered across the country.

"Bell and Telus have absolutely screaming speeds in the city of North Bay, which came as a surprise to us, writes PCMag.com's Sascha Segan. "Telus' top speed of 717 megabits per second (Mbps) was one of the fastest in the nation; Bell won the city with the best broadband reliability and lowest latency," (also known as "lag" or "network delay").

The PCMag.com testing group adds, "Interestingly, North Bay was even faster than Montreal this year, with mean download speeds of 304.2 Mbps and upload speeds of 30.6 Mbps." 

PCMag.com touts itself as "a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services." Its findings reveal what is all too familiar to internet customers in rural areas surrounding North Bay and other northern hubs.

See related story: Louder voices needed for faster internet service

Author Sascha Segan observes "a huge gap between the carriers' performance in North Bay and in the town of Sturgeon Falls, and what you see on Highway 17 when you aren't in those towns. In North Bay itself, we regularly saw speeds of 400-500 Mbps; get a few miles out of town, and we were down to 5-10 Mbps. It's striking."

The testers made five stops in different locations in North Bay to take speed readings from two providers, Bell and Rogers. 

"They acquitted themselves well within the actual city limits of Sudbury and North Bay. In North Bay, Bell's average download speeds came close to 400 Mbps and Rogers hit 125 Mbps. That's on par with major metro areas, and better than many. Businesses and residents actually in North Bay are well-connected," writes Segan, who tells BayToday, "It's worth noting that the super-fast mobile speeds we recorded were found only in the city. As soon as we travelled a few kilometres down Highway 17 out of town, performance plummeted."

See related story: New tower to power wireless service in area

In other tech news affecting northerners, during the last election campaign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals promised to prioritize improving access to broadband services and revisited the topic in the Throne Speech in September.

See full story: Trudeau pledges $1.75B to boost high-speed internet in remote communities 

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette said today, "The government will accelerate the connectivity timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet." 

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) estimates two in five rural Canadian households have access to at least 50 Mbps download speeds and 10 Mbps upload speeds. Broadband internet was declared a basic telecommunications service by the CRTC in 2016.


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for BayToday.ca, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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