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Canadian Internet Service Disrupted as Extreme Weather Strikes

Fast Facts
  • Over a quarter of Canadians experienced an internet service disruption in 2022, with Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia facing the most outages.
  • Most outages came from internet service provider outages, but nearly half were from weather-related events.
  • The data proves that extreme weather in Canada does impact internet service and outages.
  • Internet providers and customers must prepare for weather events to ensure everyone has a safe and secure online connection

New polling data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) found that weather events impacted 44% of Canadians who experienced internet outages in 2022. These events include weather from hurricanes to wildfires.

While only 27% of Canadians experienced a service disruption in 2022, most (64%) experienced them up to four times during the year. Provider outages (ISP outages) impacted 71% of Canadians who experienced an outage.

Canadians need strong internet coverage

CIRA’s survey of 2,000 adult Canadian internet users found that 50% spend more than five hours online daily, with Ontario residents reporting the most time online.

Most Canadians have fibre internet, which we also recommend for the fastest upload and download speeds, and over 80% of Canadians are satisfied with their internet speeds.

But that doesn’t help much when facing service disruptions. Citizens of Prince Edward Island and Ontario faced the most disruptions in 2022 at 51% and 40%, respectively.

While the most likely cause of outages was internet service provider (ISP) outages, 44% were related to weather events like storms and flooding. As could be expected, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island residents faced the most extreme weather events and related outages.

Among those that experienced an outage, the length varied from under six hours to three days, with residents of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Ontario facing the most prolonged outages.

Overall, the survey found that Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia dealt with the most internet outages in 2022, with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island residents reporting weather did the most damage.

Weather-related outages are dangerous

We’ve been looking at weather-related outages for a while, with the wildfires and extreme heat in Ontario testing the energy capabilities of the local grid. While electricity outages can cause more damage overall, with appliances and air conditioning shutting down during heat waves, internet outages limit the flow of information and safety guidelines to residents.

“As the country grapples with record wildfires, this data shows us that extreme weather events can have a serious impact on our connectivity – particularly when Canadians need access to online information and services most,” said Byron Holland, CIRA President and CEO, said in a statement. “It’s up to all of us—government, industry, and users—to do what we can to promote reliable, resilient internet access.”

As we continue to experience wildfires and heat waves this summer and prepare for hurricane season this fall, ensuring your ISP is ready for any potential weather-related events is vital.

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