Telephone and Internet Services

Find out about Canadian ISPs, how to get a landline or home phone in Canada, and how to get your house connected to the Internet...

Telephone numbers in Canada are ten digits - three for the area code and seven for the number. Local area codes also apply to mobile phone numbers, which are usually billed accordingly (as a local number from a home phone).

Handy Numbers
To call internationally from Canada: Dial exit code followed by country code and number Exit code:
011 + country code + Tel no
To call internationally to Canada: Dial entry code then Canada number Entry code:
001 + Tel no
To call domestic long distance Tel: 1 + Tel no
Ambulance/Fire/Police Service Tel: 911
Directory Enquiries (national and international) Tel: 411

Telephone and Internet Providers

The Canadian telecommunications sector was de-regularised in the 1980s, and there are now a number of telecommunications providers and Internet Service providers (ISPs) that offer services across the provinces. Each province has different regulations and therefore services and providers differ.

Since the de-regularisation of the telecommunications market, the formerly government-owned Bell Canada no longer holds a monopoly and a competitive market has emerged. There are numerous providers who offer competitive packages and services across the country, a few operating nationally and the majority operating provincially.

Canada's main telecoms companies include:

  • Bell Canada: Canada's largest provider offering services across Canada, including landline, long distance, wireless, Internet, satellite TV, IPTV
  • Rogers: Wireless, home phone, Internet, operates, cable TV
  • Telus: Largest telecommunications provider in Western Canada; home phone, Internet, wireless, TV
  • Telebec Quebec: Home phone, Internet, mobile
  • SaskTel: Saskatchewan. Wireless, home phone, Internet, digital TV
  • NorthWesTel Serves Northwest Territories, Yukon, Northern British Columbia, Nunavut, Northern Alberta: wireless, TV, Internet, home phone
  • Bell Aliant: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI: home phone, Satellite TV, Wireless, IPTV
  • MTS Allstream: Home phone, wireless, Internet, TV

Most companies offer "bundle" deals on the provision of multiple services. These may include home phone, TV, Internet, cellphone and mobile data.

Both DSL and fibre-optic cable connections are available in Canada, and the speed of the service provided varies between providers. There are several websites that compare ISPs by price and speed:

  • To compare Internet plans with canadianisp.ca: Click here
  • To compare Internet plans with comparemyrate.ca: Click here

How to Get Connected

Most telephone lines are still owned and maintained by the main telecommunications companies. However, other providers rent these lines and offer alternative packages at competitive rates. By contrast, fibre-optic or cable infrastructure usually belongs to the service provider, and signing up with a new provider may involve getting a second line installed. Connection is straightforward, involving a call to the relevant provider's customer services or sales team. Many providers also have outlets in towns and shopping centres.

Connection should only take a few days in the case of a telephone landline, and up to a month in the case of ADSL or fibre-optic cables. A fee may be charged to set up a new account, the amount varying according to the provider. Telecommunications companies often check new customers' credit ratings in Canada before setting up an account. If no credit history is available, sometimes having a credit card is sufficient; otherwise a deposit may be required. Check with individual providers. Subscribers must be aged 18 years or over. Bills are usually paid monthly and can be paid by direct debit or cheque.

Telephone features such as caller ID, call waiting, voice mail and ex-directory services may be charged as a monthly extra or incorporated into a package. Local call costs are often incorporated into a monthly flat rate. Customers can choose different carriers for long distance and international calls, which offer substantial discounts for calls per minute or inclusive minutes for a set fee. Additional charges for this service apply.

Despite the de-regularisation of the telecommunications market, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission does set certain requirements and rules stating that residents must have:

  • A choice of local phone service companies
  • The ability to keep their number when transferring to another provider (in the same area)
  • Customer privacy/information confidentiality
  • A 911 emergency service
  • Assistance/service for people with hearing difficulties and visual impairment
  • Access to local networks by long-distance companies

Public Telephones

There are many pay telephone booths in towns and shopping centres, though these have become less common with the rise of smartphones. Calling cards are also available, which may offer cheaper rates.

Wi-Fi Access

Wi-Fi access is widely available in major urban areas across Canada. Hotels, cafés, airports and even children's indoor play areas offer Wi-Fi access.

3G and 4G Mobile Data

Canada has good 3G and 4G provision in urban and residential areas, but reception in areas of the country with a lower population is limited. It is advisable to check service coverage with a range of mobile providers before taking out a mobile data contract. 4G in Canada may not be significantly faster than 3G, as the definitions are interchangeable to a certain degree. Most providers offer detailed coverage maps on their websites.