Xplornet and High Speed Internet

“Think you can”™t get high-speed Internet in your neck of the woods? Xplornet brings high-speed to places “big-city Internet service”? just won”™t go. Right here. Right now.”

Xplornet is better than dial-up. But it is not a big-city Internet service.

I have lived with Xplornet since last September. And there are two modes of operation as part of the so-called high-speed Internet service: burst mode and sustained mode. If you download to any great degree, the best you can hope for is 1 megabit down on the Xtreme service. Although the marketing materials claim up to 5 megabits down, that is only true for burst mode. The first 6 to 8 Megabytes of data will stream down at speed but then a throttle manager kicks in and your downloads will be gated. In over a year of service I have never seen the sustained download rates exceed the average of 115 Kilobytes per second on larger file transfers. 115 translates to just under 1 megabit.

I was able to reach a level 2 technician at Xplornet to confirm that the 1 megabit sustained download was “appropriate”. Xplornet offers less expensive packages. For example, they also offer a 1.5 megabit service. But, exactly like the 5 megabit service, that one also gets throttled down. In my opinion, the stated service levels from Xplornet are misleading and more should be done to regulate this industry to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions.

What does this mean in practical terms?

  • A recent software update for my Mac — 500 Megabyte download — took almost three hours to come down.
  • A 10-song album off iTunes took twenty minutes to come down.
  • A Pro Tools software upgrade — about 1 GB — took over seven hours to come down.
  • A candidate mix — about 7 Megabytes — took over ten minutes to send (uploads are typically much slower on Xplornet).

If my web activities were basic email and website browsing, the service would be fine. But I am a very active technology user and I am frequently downloading software, transferring audio mixes, uploading photos and bringing down music purchases.

For that profile of user, there is currently no alternative for “high-speed” residential services where we live. Perhaps one day.

If you are considering Xplornet, keep in mind that the service is not a high-speed residential broadband service. If, like me, you have limited choice, it is fine for light web activities. If, like me, you are active on the web and you have a family that is also active on the web, the service will be very, very slow.

6 replies
  1. Michael
    Michael says:

    Tried the new HSPA sticks? I am sitting in a location which is 1 hour in Atlantic … 1.5 hours in (2 guesses) and getting 6 Mbps down, 4 up.

    Was in Fredricton this morning, 8Mbps up, 4Mbps down.

    Another option …. Cheers

    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Hi Michael,

      I have an HSPA stick. Seems to be hovering around 2 – 4 megabits. Apparently the Ottawa region towers are still getting upgraded. But there is no throttling and the downloads are at speed.

      500 MB cap is no joy though. Haven’t priced out the delta in terms of my typical download activity. I am keeping track to see how the costs will compare. Also seems to be a technology that is best suited to one device and one user as opposed to sharing a connection to a household.

      Still quite cool though.

      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        Hi Richard,
        I know this is an older post, but I can chime in on Xplornet. I really dislike them as a company, and their service is lacking IMHO.

        I am using Ockham Communications as my ISP. I am not sure if you would be in their coverage range or not, you might be on the fringe of their area. If not, Internet Kingston has a similar wireless point-to-point package that should work for you.

        I am getting similar speeds to DSL with very acceptable ping times, certainly much better than what is possible with Xplornet. I have downloaded at over 500KB/s on many occasions. I am paying $45 per month, 2 year term. They use Motorola Canopy technology. Note that if you run anything which requires open incoming ports you must get them to enable DMZ on the Canopy hardware they provide.

        In terms of reliability, in a year and a half with Ockham there has been only 1 unexpected outage which was a situation beyond their control. Far better than when I dealt with Bell for DSL. I have been very happy with this.

        • Jeff
          Jeff says:

          Oops, I just checked their website, and they have changed their rates. $50/month now over 3 years, and an extra $5/month for DMZ. Also added a 20GB cap.

          Looks like I got in with them at the right time, I am still paying $45/month for what is now $10/month more on their site.

  2. Devin Devries
    Devin Devries says:

    What is this HSPA Stick? Is it available through Xplornet or a different ISP, Because Im on the 5MB Package, and Im Downloading at, 26kbs.. I was going almost thaton dial up, i called and they came and tweaked the tower.. and then tweaked something on the phone.. I then received 2mb Download and almost 800kbs, Upload, for about 2 weeks.. Then its now back to 25-30kbs and less then 100kbs Upload.. Need some help cant play Xbox Live lol


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