Cell service in Vancouver, along with Toronto and Montreal, is faster and steadier than it is stateside, says a new report from RootMetrics, a U.S.-based research firm. But Vancouver in particular has a, get this, “3G sticky” problem.
RootMetrics recently drove more than 4,500 kilometers and performed more than 71,000 data, call and text tests using the same phones that consumers can purchase, off the shelves, at their operator’s stores. The company tested the “Big Three” networks, plus regional networks WIND (in Toronto and Vancouver) and Videotron (in Montreal).
Results show that the three major mobile operators and Videotron provide Canadians a fantastic mix of speed and reliability that is comparable to, or exceeds, what RootMetrics has observed in U.S. and UK cities. Bell, Rogers and Telus each won a total of 18 awards, with Bell bringing home the most 1st-place awards (11 outright + ties). You can view the reports here.
Fast Data Speeds Give Rogers the Edge in Vancouver, BC
In Vancouver, the “Big Three” operators performed at a high level in almost all tests. Although Rogers either won outright or tied in every performance category, Bell and Telus weren’t far behind. What gave Rogers the edge over the competition was its upload and download speeds.
Though still fast networks, Bell and Telus were slower in Vancouver than in the other two Canadian cities RootMetrics tested. Although both carriers offer LTE, RootMetrics tests stayed on 3G more than expected. In fact, RootMetrics connected to LTE less than the testing it performed a year ago.
In contrast to these faster networks, WIND was nearly 20 times slower than Rogers in the RootMetrics median download testing. RootMetrics also encountered more data and call failures on WIND than other networks tested in Vancouver. The final overall performance category results for Vancouver:
1) Rogers (98.2)
2) Bell (95.7)
2) Telus (95.5)
4) WIND (78.2)
Bell and Telus Take the Lead in Toronto
All three mobile operators were strong in Toronto, but Bell and Telus narrowly pulled ahead in most categories RootMetrics tested. Bell tied for, or finished in first outright, in all six performance categories. Telus tied for, or finished first outright, in five categories. WIND finished last in every category.
There is good news for data users in Toronto. Not only did RootMetrics connect to the LTE networks in almost every test, but all of the “Big Three” scored an impressive 99.0 or above in the data category.
The final overall performance category results for Toronto:
1 – Telus (98.7)
1 – Bell (98.6)
3 – Rogers (97.6)
4 – WIND (85.6)
In Montreal, Great Performance Across All Operators
In every category and across every mobile operator, performance in Montreal stood out. Results showed scores of 95.0 or higher in every category. The widest disparity was in the call performance category: Bell scored a perfect 100, while Rogers had the “low” score of 95.6.
At 47.3 Mbps, Rogers recorded the highest median download speed ever seen in any of the extensive RootMetrics testing across the U.S., UK or Canada.
In data reliability testing, RootMetrics found the mobile operators in Montreal nearly perfect. All four of the operators RootMetrics tested delivered task success rates above 99%.
And, RootMetrics was able to access LTE more than 90% of the time for all four mobile operators in Montreal.
Montreal consumers also have one of the best regional operators that RootMetrics has seen. Videotron performed as well as, or better than, the national operators in nearly every category. Videotron has a network sharing agreement with Rogers, and RootMetrics consistently accessed LTE on both operators’ networks.
Overall performance category results for Montreal (representing the tightest race, by points, of the three largest metros):
1) Bell (99.2)
1) Videotron (98.8)
3) Telus (98.0)
4) Rogers (97.4)
“Network speeds grab the headlines, but we test the full range of your mobile experience,” said Bill Moore, CEO and President of RootMetrics. “The great news for Canadians is that we found tremendous performance across nearly every category we measure. Speeds were top-notch for the three national operators. But so were reliability, data, call, and texting performance. Consumers have several good options to deliver not just fast speeds but consistent network access.”
Canadians Benefit from Fast Data Speeds
Rogers recorded the fastest median download speed RootMetrics has observed in Montreal, but this wasn’t an anomaly for the mobile operator. The carrier ranged from a lightning-quick median download speed of 44.4 Mbps in Vancouver to the blazing-fast median download speed of 47.3 Mbps in Montreal. In addition, median upload speeds for Rogers were likewise impressive. In contrast, WIND showed significantly slower median download and upload speeds.
Median download/upload speeds:
Rogers: 44.43 Mbps/19.86 Mbps
Bell: 16.98 Mbps/6.84 Mbps
Telus: 14.80 Mbps/4.19 Mbps
WIND: 2.27 Mbps/0.4 Mbps
Rogers: 46.14 Mbps/24.87 Mbps
Bell: 27.79 Mbps/21.07 Mpbs
Telus: 24.98 Mbps/21.31 Mbps
WIND: 2.92 Mbps/1.23 Mbps
Rogers: 47.35 Mbps/28.10 Mbps
Bell: 39.06 Mbps/21.59 Mbps
Telus: 38.53 Mbps/21.97 Mbps
Videotron: 39.00 Mbps/30.2 Mbps
Reliability and Speed
RootMetrics provides two standalone indices within the RootScore Reports that give consumers a clear view of each network’s reliability and speed performances. The Network Reliability Index is based on a combination of results from data, call, and text tests, while the Network Speed Index includes data and text results. Looking at the network reliability and speed indices in conjunction with Combined RootScores offers the most comprehensive look at a typical mobile experience.
In Vancouver, Rogers ranked highest for both network reliability, and was recognized as the outright leader in network speed.
Network Reliability Index for Vancouver:
1) Rogers: 99.0
2) Telus: 97.8
3) Bell: 97.4
4) WIND: 84.4
Network Speed Index for Vancouver:
1) Rogers: 95.3
2) Bell: 91.2
3) Telus: 88.1
4) WIND: 59.0
In Toronto, Telus and Bell shared the top ranking in network in both the reliability and speed indices.
Network Reliability Index for Toronto:
1) Telus: 99.3
1) Bell: 99.1
3) Rogers: 98.2
4) WIND: 92.5
Network Speed Index for Toronto:
1) Bell: 96.9
1) Telus: 96.7
3) Rogers: 96.3
4) WIND: 63.0
In Montreal, Bell and Videotron were ranked highest in network reliability, with Videotron ranked highest in network speed.
Network Reliability Index for Montreal:
1) Bell: 99.8
1) Videotron: 99.1
3) Telus: 98.7
4) Rogers: 97.8
Network Speed Index for Montreal:
1) Videotron: 97.8
2) Rogers: 97.3
3) Bell: 96.6
4) Telus: 95.3
More than 71,000 tests in Canada’s three largest metro areas
This is the second set of RootMetrics reports on Canada’s mobile experience. RootMetrics also provides reports for U.S. and UK wireless carriers. To evaluate the mobile experience in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, RootMetrics conducted 71,607 call, data, and text tests on the networks of Bell, Rogers, Telus, WIND (in Toronto and Vancouver) and Videotron (in Montreal) during all hours of the day and night. Testing took place in Vancouver from 8/30 to 9/5, 2014, in Toronto from 9/8 to 9/15, 2014 and in Montreal from 9/17 to 9/25, 2014. The tests were conducted using the RootMetrics RootScout app running on Android-based, consumer smartphones purchased off-the-shelf from carrier stores. Tests were performed indoors (at 107 locations) and outdoors during drive tests (covering 4,528 kilometers). For details about the results, see the methodology section of the RootMetrics website. Mobile performance varies depending on where people live, work, or otherwise spend time.