Canadians’ data usage on their wireless devices and over their home Internet connections continues to climb as they embrace changing technology, according to a new report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Canadians “are increasingly using their mobile devices and home Internet connections to watch content, access health care services, further their education or run their businesses,” said CRTC chairperson and CEO Ian Scott.
“As the industry continues to invest in their networks to meet current and future demands, the CRTC is establishing a fund to improve broadband access in remote and rural communities.”
The CRTC’s 2017 Communications Monitoring Report, released on Nov. 8, finds Canadians are adopting mobile broadband service at a rapid rate.
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In 2016, there were three million more mobile broadband subscriptions than the previous year, a 13.3 per cent increase.
Canadians used an average of 1.2 gigabytes (GB) of data per month on their wireless devices, a 25 per cent increase from 2015.
More than a quarter of those who subscribed to a monthly data plan had at least 5 GB of data.
Blame it on the Millennials. Many young people are turning to their wireless device to watch TV. Forty-one percent of 18-to-34-year-olds use their smartphones to watch TV online, compared to 11 per cent of Canadians ages 50-64 years old and 4 per cent of Canadians 65 and over.
Other popular activities included accessing the Internet, e-mails and social media networks.
At the same time, Canadians are also increasing the data and speed of their home Internet connections.
In 2016, monthly data usage (downloads and uploads) increased by 23.4 per cent to reach 128.3 GB.
Over the last five years, Canadians monthly data consumption increased by an average of 40 per cent each year.
In addition, 26 per cent of subscribers had chosen a download speed of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps).
Five years ago, only 3.6 per cent of Canadians subscribed to this speed tier.
More and more Canadians have the option to subscribe to this speed tier. By the end of 2016, 84 per cent of Canadians had access to download speeds of at least 50 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps on fixed broadband Internet services.
In 2016, Canadian communications revenues totaled $66.6 billion.
Telecommunications revenues reached $48.7 billion, while broadcasting revenues came in at $17.9 billion.
The communications industry served over 14 million households and over a million businesses in Canada using both landline and wireless facilities.
The average Canadian household expenditure on communications services increased by 1.7 per cent from $214.75 per month in 2014 to $218.42 per month in 2015.
The majority of Canadians’ spending on communications services went to mobile wireless services (40 per cent), followed by television services (25 per cent), Internet services (21 per cent), and telephone services (14 per cent).
In 2016, telecommunications service providers spent $11.6 billion to improve and expand their networks, an increase of 11.3 per cent, or $1.2 billion, from the previous year.
The retail Internet sector had the highest growth of all sectors, with revenue increasing by 10.1 per cent, or $930 million, in 2016. Total revenues for retail Internet were $10.2 billion in 2016.
The average monthly amount of data downloaded by residential subscribers increased 25.6 per cent between 2015 and 2016 to 116.9 GB per month, and an average of 42.4 per cent annually over the last five years.
Average upload amounts increased 4.8% between 2015 and 2016 to 11.4 GB per month, and an average of 20.6% annually over the last five years.
The wireless retail market remained the largest communications sector with revenues of $23.2 billion in 2016.
Long-term evolution (LTE) and LTE-advanced wireless networks deliver even higher speeds than previous generation networks, and are available to approximately 98.5 per cent and 83 per cent of Canadians, respectively.
The number of WiFi hotspot locations increased by 32 per cent from 2015 to 2016.
LANDLINE vs WIRELESS
More Canadian households subscribe exclusively to wireless services than to landlines.
According to the latest available data, 86.1 per cent of households had wireless service and 71.9 per cent had landline service in 2015. Twenty-seven percent of households subscribed only to a wireless service, while 13.2 per cent had only landline service.
The number of local telephone lines has declined from 17.7 million in 2012 to 15.2 million in 2016.