Customers can easily judge how well their Internet connection is performing, and we usually gauge performance by how fast it is. The buffering you occasionally experience when streaming, how long it takes for photos to upload on social media, and the disruptions you experience when gaming all indicate a slow Internet connection. We may have all been accustomed to that level of connectivity to the extent that we think that this is the “normal”.
To put things in context, there are three main metrics that gauge the performance of your Internet:
Latency is how long an action will take while using the Internet, something as simple as clicking a link. Ideally, you want this to be as instantaneous as possible. Latency has the biggest impact on gaming, since gaming is in essence all about sending commands and interacting with other parties. The lower it is, the better the gaming and overall Internet experience. According to 2020 statistics from the Alberta Regional Dashboard, the average latency is 52.5 milliseconds in the City of Brooks.
Rather straightforward, but basically it is transferring data from a source to your computer. It is experienced in arguably the vast majority of our Internet usage, such as opening a web page, receiving email, streaming or purchasing music and streaming video content.
When data is being transferred from your computer, tablet or phone to another party, you are uploading. Sending email, posting photos on Instagram and having Zoom calls are all uploading activities.
Unlike latency, you want your upload and download speeds to be as high as possible.
You can check your latency, download and upload speeds here. With the majority of Internet in Brooks getting supplied via cable, your Internet performance is most probably in the range of average and slow across the three main metrics. But what is really “slow”?
The average download speed of Internet in Brooks is 22.5 Mbps, and the upload speed is 6.59 Mbps. This is strikingly below the CRTC minimum standard of 50 Mbps for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. It even falls below the average download and upload cable speeds aggregated here.
The disparity is further magnified when compared to urban centres in Canada. According to CIRA, the median download speed for urban Canadians in early 2020 was 26.16 Mbps. For rural Canadian communities, it was just 5.42 Mbps — not nearly enough download speed for work, education, and telemedicine that at the time we had no choice but to do from home. By July, the median download speed for urban areas had already nearly doubled to 51.54 Mbps. In rural areas, it continued to languish at 5.62 Mbps. In March, urban Canadians had roughly 5x the internet speed of their rural neighbours. Today, they have almost 10x the power for connecting, working, and learning from home.
There are many reasons that contribute to this inequality, but perhaps the biggest one is major telecommunications companies sidelining rural areas like Brooks since they are not deemed as profitable as urban areas. This discrepancy has brought upon its share of inconveniences, that are not just about residents not being able to enjoy simple activities like watching movies without disruptions or perhaps more important tasks like smoothly working from home and having work-related video conferences that don’t buffer. It objectively holds back possibilities for growth and economic welfare for the community as whole, as current businesses find the lack of proper infrastructure an impediment to function and new businesses become hesitant to expand to Broo
Pure Fibre Internet Comes Into Play
The median download speed for fibre Internet is 1000 Mbps, and for upload speeds it is 1000 Mbps. Not only is it symmetrical, but it is more than 50 times faster than cable Internet. It’s often seen as an easy decision for us to invest that much in improving the Internet infrastructure in Brooks since residents are missing out on what’s exponentially better. The infrastructure we are building is also pure fibre, supplied by a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) model, which is an actual rarity. A lot of the fibre currently being provided is fibre-to-the-neighbourhood (FTTN), which is basically Internet in the form of fibre being supplied to a node. Then from that node to households–widely known as “the last mile”–it is cable Internet; ultimately, what households eventually get to experience is cable Internet with a faint fibre hybrid. To mildly put it, you are neither here nor there.
Here is a comparison from one of BrooksNET Internet Service Providers, Galaxy Fibre, that shows the real difference between FTTH and FTTN.