Upgrade Business Internet in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re reading this, your business needs more internet speed. In this article, I will discuss the technology limitations and logical steps you can take to upgrade various Internet types.

As a small or medium-sized business in Canada grappling with the need for faster internet, you’re likely considering an upgrade. Whether it’s accommodating more team members, cloud backups, or remote work demands, understanding the technology limitations and logical steps to upgrade your internet is crucial.

There are many “media” or ways the Internet is delivered to your business. You will have either fiber, cable, twisted pair copper, wireless, or satellite Internet. Each of these internet types can be upgraded to a point, but each has its limitations and costs. Check out the article Why is Business Internet More Expensive? where we cover that question more in-depth.

Upgrade my Cable Internet 

The first type of Internet that is very common across Canada is cable or coax internet. I’ll discuss this first because it may be the most upgradeable for a small or medium business. Cable, or coax internet, is a prevalent choice across Canada, especially for small and medium businesses. It offers substantial upgrade potential due to the evolving DOCSIS technology, which significantly increases capacity on copper networks every few years.

Key Points:

  • Technology Evolution: The coax cable network, though old, benefits from continuous improvements in DOCSIS protocols.
  • Limitations: The critical factors include distance from the central office (CO) or CMTS, and the existing cable plant’s condition.
  • Upgrade Options: If your ISP isn’t upgrading its network, consider switching to dedicated fiber or microwave wireless for better performance.
  • Applications Benefitting from Fiber: SharePoint, virtual desktops, and remote office connections are more efficient over fiber due to lower latency and higher throughput.

Action Steps:

  1. Consult Your ISP: Check if they’re upgrading the DOCSIS platform, which could mean more bandwidth for you.
  2. Consider Alternative Upgrades: Explore fiber or microwave wireless options if your ISP falls short.
  3. Understand the Benefits: Recognize the advantages of fiber over cable, particularly for specific business applications.

If you are with a larger carrier and on a reliable cable plant, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is likely investing in upgrading the DOCSIS platform. The first step in upgrading is to talk to your existing ISP, as it’s probable more bandwidth is available to you – or coming soon. If that is not the case, and your ISP is not investing in their network, you may consider the upgrade to dedicated fiber or microwave wireless. 

Another option for upgrading your service when you have cable internet is to add a Wireless secondary connection. Wireless infrastructure often differs from cable-based internet, giving you redundancy and more upload capacity.

If configured right with an SDWan box, you could have a well-performing service at an affordable price. Read more about cable internet in our article Is cable Internet good for business

Upgrade My DSL Internet

For businesses currently using DSL internet, there are several upgrade paths, each with its unique benefits and considerations.

Understanding DSL and Its Upgrade Options

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, uses existing telephone lines to provide internet access. While fiber or cable is slower than fiber or cable, it’s a cost-effective solution for many small businesses. However, you might find DSL’s limitations challenging as your business grows.

Key Upgrade Options:

  • VDSL Upgrade: Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL) significantly improves over traditional DSL. It requires a fiber-optic connection to the DSLAM within 1km of your office.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: While DSL is budget-friendly, don’t overlook the value of fiber-optic networks offering similar pricing for better performance.
  • Exploring Alternative Technologies: Technologies like Starlink (LEO satellite internet) offer higher capacity and could be a more suitable fit for growing businesses.

Factors to Consider:

  • Reliability vs. Capacity: DSL offers reliable service but limited capacity, while options like Starlink provide higher capacity with varying reliability.
  • Investment for Future Growth: Consider investing in fixed wireless or fiber optic internet if your business increasingly relies on technology.

Action Steps:

  • Evaluate Your Current DSL Service: Assess if it meets your current needs and growth plans.
  • Consult with Your ISP: Inquire about VDSL or other upgrade options they might offer.
  • Consider Secondary Internet Options: Consider additional connectivity methods to complement your existing DSL, such as Starlink or fixed wireless solutions. Please read our article on Starlink Business Plans.

Why Can’t I Upgrade DSL to Fiber?

Upgrading from DSL to fiber can be complicated due to infrastructural challenges. DSL networks, often built with overhead lines or directly buried underground, require significant investment to be replaced with fiber-optic cables.


  • Infrastructure Limitations: The transition from copper-based DSL to fiber-optic involves new cabling, which can be costly.
  • Expense of Fiber Builds: Costs can range from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the length and complexity of the installation.

Action Steps:

  • Understand the Feasibility: Evaluate whether a fiber upgrade is realistic considering your geographic location and infrastructure.
  • Cost Analysis: Compare the long-term benefits of fiber against the initial installation costs.

Understanding Fiber-Optic Upgrades

Fiber-optic internet represents a significant technological leap, offering unparalleled speed and reliability. If you’re considering upgrading to a fiber-optic service, it’s essential to understand what this entails and whether it’s a feasible option for your business.

The Basics of Fiber-Optic Internet

Fiber-optic technology uses light to transmit data, providing faster speeds and more reliable connections than traditional copper lines. It’s ideal for businesses with high data usage, multiple users, and cloud-based applications.

Key Considerations:

  • Shared vs. Dedicated Fiber: Understand if your service is on a GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) or a dedicated line. GPON services are less expensive but shared among multiple users.
  • Upgrade Limitations: Upgrading within a GPON network can be challenging due to shared capacity and physical infrastructure constraints.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: While fiber offers excellent performance, it comes with higher installation costs, especially in rural areas or for longer installations.

Action Steps:

  • Assess Your Fiber Service: Determine whether you have a shared or dedicated service and its current performance.
  • Inquire About Upgrade Options: Contact your ISP to understand potential upgrades within your fiber network.
  • Evaluate Cost vs. Performance: Balance the cost of upgrading against the expected performance improvement and business requirements.

Wireless internet is a versatile option for businesses, especially in locations where wired connections are not feasible. Understanding the different types of wireless internet and their upgrade paths is crucial for making an informed decision.

Types of Wireless Internet:

  • Cellular Internet: Utilizes the same networks as mobile phones. Suitable for businesses in areas with solid cellular reception.
  • Fixed Wireless: Provides internet through a direct line of sight between your location and the service provider’s tower.
  • Microwave (Dedicated) Wireless: Offers dedicated bandwidth and typically higher speeds than standard fixed wireless.
  • Satellite Internet: Ideal for remote locations, with newer low-earth-orbit (LEO) options like Starlink offering improved performance.

Upgrade Challenges:

  • Hardware Limitations: Older hardware can restrict upgrades, especially in fixed wireless or cellular setups.
  • Oversubscription Issues: Many ISPs need more support due to oversubscription at the tower level, affecting upgrade possibilities.

Action Steps:

  • Evaluate Your Current Setup: Understand your wireless service type and its limitations.
  • Consult with Your ISP: Inquire about available upgrades, considering hardware and network capacity.
  • Consider Alternative Providers: Explore options from different ISPs if your current provider cannot offer satisfactory upgrades.

Challenges in Upgrading Satellite Internet

Satellite internet is a critical option for businesses in remote locations. However, upgrading this type of service comes with its challenges.

Understanding Satellite Internet Limitations:

  • Fixed Position Satellites: These traditional satellites have limited capacity and high costs due to the expense of launching and maintaining them.
  • Overcapacity Issues: Satellite services often need to be more subscribed, limiting the availability of upgrades.
  • LEO Satellites: Newer low-earth-orbit options like Starlink are increasing in capacity and popularity, offering a potential alternative.

Action Steps:

  • Analyze Your Current Satellite Service: Assess its performance and any limitations you’re experiencing.
  • Explore LEO Options: Investigate newer satellite technologies that provide better service and upgrade possibilities.
  • Weigh Cost vs. Benefit: Consider the cost of upgrading against the potential improvements in service and reliability.

Table of Internet Options for Canadians

Type of InternetKey ConsiderationsAction Steps
Cable Internet– Evolving DOCSIS technology –Distance from CO/CMTS
– Cable network condition Possible transition to fiber or microwave wireless
– Consult with ISP about DOCSIS upgrades – Consider switching to fiber or microwave wireless
DSL Internet– Upgrading to VDSL for better performance
– Comparing cost vs. performance with fiber
– Alternative technologies for growing businesses
– Assess current DSL service
-Inquire about VDSL or other ISP upgrades
-Consider secondary internet options
Fiber-Optic– Shared (GPON) vs. Dedicated Fiber
-Upgrade limitations in a shared network
-Higher installation costs, especially in rural areas
– Determine fiber service type
– Contact ISP for upgrade options
-Evaluate costs versus performance
Wireless Internet– Types include Cellular, Fixed Wireless, Microwave Wireless, Satellite
-Hardware and oversubscription limitations
-Alternative wireless providers
– Understand wireless setup
-Discuss upgrades with ISP
-Explore options from different providers
Satellite Internet– Fixed Position vs. LEO Satellite options
-Overcapacity and high operational costs
-Increasing popularity and capacity of LEO satellites like Starlink
– Analyze current satellite service
– Investigate LEO satellite options
– Weigh the cost against service improvement

Final Recommendations:

  1. Evaluate Your Business Needs: Understand your internet usage, capacity requirements, and future growth plans.
  2. Consult with ISPs: Engage with your current provider and explore alternatives to find the best upgrade options.
  3. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Weigh the costs of upgrading against the benefits it will bring to your business operations. Please read our article How much does business internet cost for more information.
  4. Plan for the Future: Consider your immediate needs and, also how your choice will serve you in the long term.

Upgrading your business internet is an investment in your company’s efficiency and growth. By carefully considering the options and making a choice that aligns with your business objectives, you can ensure that your internet connection supports your business needs now and in the future.


Depending on your unique situation, upgrading your Internet can be confusing. I hope this article has added some clarity, and helped you know which questions to ask your provider and other competitive providers.  

How should I upgrade from DSL to a different type of internet?

Consider upgrading if your current DSL connection doesn’t meet your speed, reliability, or bandwidth requirements. If your business is growing, or you’re increasingly relying on cloud-based applications, exploring fiber-optic, cable, or wireless options might be beneficial.

What are the advantages of fiber-optic internet over other types?

Fiber-optic internet offers higher speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connections, making it ideal for businesses with heavy data usage, cloud computing needs, and multiple online users.

Is wireless internet a good option for my business?

Wireless internet, including fixed wireless and satellite options, can be an excellent choice for businesses in areas with limited wired connectivity. It’s also helpful in adding redundancy to your existing internet setup.

How can I reduce the cost of upgrading to fiber-optic internet?

To reduce costs, assess if a shared fiber service (GPON) meets your needs instead of a dedicated line. Also, compare offerings from multiple ISPs to find the most cost-effective solution.

How important is it to consider future business growth when upgrading the internet?

 It’s crucial. Choose an internet solution that meets your current needs and can accommodate future growth. This approach ensures your internet infrastructure remains robust and scalable.

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Michael is the main author and Editor on the InternetAdvice blog. With a decade of experience under his belt, Michael stands at the forefront of the telecommunications industry. As a Senior Telecom Strategist, Michael has witnessed firsthand the rapid advancements in technology and has been an integral part of pioneering efforts in the adoption of cutting-edge telecom solutions across Canada.

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