torontoA few days ago I wrote about a Toronto Star story highlighting the consequences of the high cost of Internet service. Several commenters responded with incredulity.

We all seem to agree that the Internet is a necessity these days. Certainly, most of the features that so endear the e-book ecosystem to me would be greatly hobbled without a readily available Internet connection. Could it really cost $100 a month to get that? Sadly, yes. Here in Canada, telecommunications are highly regulated. Smaller Internet providers do exist, but they rent cable lines and equipment from an effective monopoly of regulated providers. This drives up the cost for most regular customers.

But how high does it drive it? I do think the lady profiled in the Star story who claimed to pay $100 was being over-charged. There are cheaper options here. But there is nothing as cheap as the commenter who claimed to pay $15 a month for his! Here is a round-up of Toronto-area internet offerings; I turned these up with a quick Internet search. But obviously, the lady in the Star story—lacking Internet herself—might lack the option to comparison-shop this way.

1) The Big Providers

Shaw: $25 for the first month, then it doubles.

Bell: Basic plan is about $65, but there is an activation fee and modem rental fee. Cheapest unlimited plan is $149.95 a month.

Rogers: Basic plan is $24.99 plus $8 modem rental. The cheapest unlimited plan they offer is $59.99 for the for the first three months and $84.99 thereafter.

Cogeco: It’s $23.95 for the first year, then goes up to the regular rate of $64.95.

2) Smaller Providers

TekSavvy: Light plan is available for $27.99 with unlimited usage only in off-peak hours. Unlimited is $39.99.

Acanac: We used to use this company. Everything was great until you had a problem; their support line is woefully understaffed and you could spend literally hours waiting on hold. They offer a $9.99 deal, but only for the first year. It goes up to $35.95 after that.

Primus: We use this company and have been generally satisfied. $29.95 for the first three months, then $48.95 thereafter, for unlimited usage.

So, there you have it. You can get cheap promo prices sometimes, but the lowest basic-use, capped, limited plan is about $40. You can get unlimited usage for less than $50 (just!) but not from any of the big guys. Bell, the main provider, charges half the cost of an iPad—per month—for their fanciest, fastest unlimited plan.

Image credit: Here.


  1. Sounds like Toronto has lots of choices, but few that are inexpensive after the first year and most play various games much like cellphone companies. In the small town where I live, there are only two apart from too-slow DSL.

    One Charter, doesn’t seem to know it’s not a monopoly. The cheapest broadband they’d give me was about $60/month for 60 meg. Nothing slower. Nothing cheaper. Fortunately, Wow! was also an option and offered a long-term 30 meg for $30. That’s more in keeping with my budget and needs. Thus far, their support has been good too. I now have cables from both coming to my house, so I can go with whoever is best.

    Those wanting to keep costs down should keep in mind:

    1. Buy don’t rent your modem. The payoff time for buying is one of the best around, typically under a year, and that’s paying full retail. I found mine at a thrift store for $5. It works fine, is still in production, and works with practically every cable provider. The standards often mean that a modem that works will one will work with another provider. For cable modems, here are two good options.

    That’s about an 8 month payback for both. Get one marked down and you save even more.

    2. Fight the high-tech activists of the sort you’ll find at sites like Slashdot. As heavy users, they want heavy user features mandated for everyone so light users subsidize their use. They’re trying to mandate that under 30 meg isn’t broadband, even those that’s more than enough for most people. And they’re trying to enforce a “net neutrality” that again means light users subsidize heavy users. Keep budget options alive. Unfortunately, budget users tend to be tech illiterates who don’t know they’re being ill-treated.

    3. Trouble is looming ahead for TV networks and cable companies. Lots of people are tired of cable TV bills that offer more channels than they want. They’re moving to streaming what they want over broadband using various boxes and streaming sticks. Some schemes want you to buy into their service (i.e. Amazon and Apple). I’m planning to go with Roku, which hosts other services and offers more than I can ever use for the one time cost of their $50 stick. I can get pay for options such as HBO or Netflix, but I don’t have to.

    Hey, I get the History channel for free and I don’t have to tie up my computer to watch Youtube stuff. You can’t beat that. I can even get Khan Academy training, C-SPAN, and PBS with a bit of extra effort to set up private channels. No need for cable TV or even an outside antenna.

    Just be prepared for the politically powerful television networks and cable companies to try to kick back against those changes. They’re used to dictating to us what options they will provide.

    –Mike Perry

  2. Thanks for doing what the Toronto journalists should have done.

    All of these are wired solutions – what is available in Mobile Data? Thus many places you can buy a little hotspot box which takes a SIM, either PAYG or monthly and provides Wi-Fi.

    Also “unlimited” downloads surely aren’t needed for the kind of access to the internet we are talking of ?

    I have 10 GB/month and unlimited overnight.

    And the comment above brings in speed which is a whole different question

    Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames

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