Communications Monitoring Report 2017: Telecommunications sector overview

Download this report in PDF

5.0 Telecommunications sector overview

Infographic summarizing section 5.0 – Telecommunications sector overview Infographic summarizing section 5.0 – Telecommunications sector overview
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the telecommunications sector and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows revenues as a percentage of total telecommunications revenues in 2016.
    1. Wireless: 50%;
    2. Wireline voice: 18%;
    3. Internet: 22%;
    4. Data and private line: 9%
  2. Revenues: $48.7 billion, an increase of 2.0% from 2015.
  3. Capital expenditures: $11.6 billion, an increase of 11.3% from 2015.
  4. Revenue share of the top 5 companies: 85%.
  5. Telecommunications earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA): 38.4%.

Canada’s telecommunications industry consists of six sectors: local, long distance, Internet, wireless, data, and private line. The two largest sectors combined, Internet and wireless, have grown by more than $7.3 billion or 25.9% since 2012, and accounted for more than 63.8% of total telecommunications revenues in 2012 and 72.3% in 2016. Over the same five-year period, wireline voice service revenues have shown steady declines, representing 18.5% of total telecommunications revenues in 2016 compared to 25.6% in 2012.

In 2016, Canadian telecommunications revenues reached $48.7 billion, with the vast majority (92%) derived from retail services and the balance (8%) from the wholesale sector. Service providers supplied retail services to over 14 million households, 1 million businesses, and, through the wholesale market, 800 other telecommunications entities. Service providers continued to increase investments in their infrastructure, with capital expenditures reaching $11.6 billion in 2016, an 11.3% increase over 2015 levels.

Large incumbent telecommunications service providers (TSPs)Footnote 1 captured over 59% of industry revenues. Their main group of competitors, cable-based carriers,Footnote 2 reported 33% of revenues and 8% of the total number of companies. ResellersFootnote 3 comprised nearly 69% of service providers but generated only 4% of revenues. The remaining 4% of revenues were captured by smaller incumbent TSPs and other facilities-based service providers.Footnote 4

In December 2016, the Commission issued Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496, in which it set out policies and actions it is taking to help Canadians participate in the digital economy and society. The main objectives of the new policies and actions are as follows:

The Commission also established the following universal service objective: Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas, have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks. To measure the successful achievement of this objective, the Commission established several criteria, including the following:

To help meet the universal service objective, the Commission began to shift the focus of its regulatory frameworks from wireline voice services to broadband Internet access services. The Commission will establish a mechanism to assist in funding continuing access to the basic telecommunications services that form part of the universal service objective. The Commission will also begin to phase out the subsidy that supports local telephone service and review its voice service regulatory frameworks. The Commission established regulatory measures to address issues related to accessibility for persons with disabilities and to enhance consumer empowerment. The effects of this policy will be reflected in future editions of the Communications Monitoring Report.

i) Revenues

Table 5.0.1 Telecommunications revenues (retail and wholesale) ($ billions)
Sector Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireline Retail 20.6 20.9 21.2 21.4 21.4 0.4 1.0
Wholesale 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.8 2.9 1.9 -0.4
Wireline total 23.5 23.7 24.0 24.2 24.3 0.6 0.8
Wireless Retail 19.5 20.2 20.9 22.5 23.2 3.2 4.5
Wholesale 0.8 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.2 6.9 9.3
Wireless total 20.4 21.2 22.0 23.6 24.4 3.4 4.7
Total Retail 40.2 41.1 42.2 43.9 44.7 1.8 2.7
Wholesale 3.7 3.7 3.8 3.9 4.1 3.3 2.0
Total 43.9 44.8 45.9 47.8 48.7 2.0 2.6

Source: CRTC data collection

Revenues from telecommunications services are derived from sales to residential and business consumers (retail revenues) and to other carriers (wholesale revenues). The table displays retail and wholesale revenues for wireline and wireless services for the years 2012 to 2016.

Estimates were made to capture revenues of service providers that did not provide data. In 2016, these estimates were less than 1% of total telecommunications revenues. Revenues derived from the sale and rental of local and access terminal equipment, and other non-telecommunications revenues, were excluded from wireline retail service revenues.

As shown in the table above, over 90% of telecommunications revenues are generated from the retail sector.

Table 5.0.2 Telecommunications revenue distribution by region ($ billions)
Region 2014 2015 2016 Percentage of total (%) Growth (%) 2015-2016
Atlantic 3.1 3.2 3.3 6.7 0.4
BC and Territories 6.3 6.6 6.6 13.6 -0.1
Ontario 18.2 18.7 19.8 40.5 5.9
Prairies 9.5 10.0 9.8 20.1 -2.0
Quebec 8.9 9.3 9.3 19.0 0.3

Source: CRTC data collection

Estimates were made for companies that were not required to provide provincial and territorial telecommunications data. Growth rate variance is calculated from exact amounts and, therefore, may not be apparent in the rounded revenue numbers reported in this table.

ii) Forbearance

The Commission refrains from regulation when it finds that a service is subject to sufficient competition or where refraining is consistent with the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives. This is referred to as forbearance. Where a service is forborne from regulation, the provider is generally relieved of the obligation to provide it pursuant to a Commission-approved tariff. Other aspects of the service may still be regulated.

In 2016, approximately 95% of telecommunications revenues were from services for which the Commission does not regulate the retail rates.

Table 5.0.3 Percentage of telecommunications revenues generated by forborne services
Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local and access 77 78 79 80 82
Long distance 99 99 98 98 98
Internet 98 97 97 96 97
Data and private line 84 84 89 89 89
Wireless 100 100 100 100 100
Overall 93 94 94 95 95

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the percentage of telecommunications revenues by market sector from 2012 to 2016, including their wholesale components that are generated by services that are forborne. With respect to the local and access market sector, ‘access’ refers to wireline services that provide telecommunications service access to the subscriber or to the telecommunications network. Wireless services are forborne from regulation, whereas wholesale high speed access (WHSA) services are not forborne.

iii) Canadian ownership

Section 16 of the Telecommunications Act addresses the eligibility of Canadian carriers to operate as telecommunications common carriers. For the purposes of applying the provisions of Section 16, the Commission has determined that, for the period between the date of release of the 2016 Communications Monitoring Report and the date of release of the 2017 edition, total annual revenues from the provision of telecommunications services in Canada was $48.7 billion.

What does section 16 of the Telecommunications Act require?

Subject to certain exceptions, Section 16 requires that telecommunications companies that own or operate telecommunications transmission equipment and have Canadian telecommunications revenues greater than $4.8 billion (i.e. 10% of total Canadian telecommunications revenues) be Canadian owned and controlled.

iv) Number, size, and type of companies

Figure 5.0.1 Distribution of telecommunications revenues, by type of TSP, 2016

Bar chart of Figure 5.0.1: Distribution of telecommunications revenues, by type of TSP, 2016 Bar chart of Figure 5.0.1: Distribution of telecommunications revenues, by type of TSP, 2016
Text Description of Image

This is a bar chart that shows the various types of telecommunications service providers’ revenue share and the total number of providers as a percent of total number of industry providers of telecommunication services in 2016. There are five types of service providers in this bar chart.

Type TSP Revenues Service providers
Large incumbent TSPs 59 1
Small incumbent TSPs 1 4
Cable-based carriers 33 8
Other facilities-based service providers 3.4 19
Resellers 3.5 69

Source: CRTC data collection

This graph displays the percentage of total revenues captured by type of provider of telecommunications services and the percentage of providers offering service.

The incumbent TSP data displayed above includes revenues from all of their Canadian telecommunications operations, both inside and outside their traditional operating territories.

In the figure above, terms are used as follows:

Incumbent TSPs are the companies that provided local telecommunications services on a monopoly basis prior to the introduction of competition.

Cable-based carriers are the former cable monopolies that also provide telecommunications services (e.g. wireline voice, Internet, data and private line, and wireless services).

Other facilities-based service providers are providers of telecommunications services that are not incumbent providers and own and operate telecommunications networks.

Resellers or Non-facilities-based service providers generally acquire telecommunications services from other providers and either resell those services or create their own network from which to provide services to their customers. A company that owns a small amount of facilities but has the vast majority of its operations on leased facilities may also be classified as non-facilities-based.

The industry is dominated by 10 large companies that collectively, with their affiliates, accounted for 93% of Canadian telecommunications revenues in 2016. The remaining companies accounted for less than $3.4 billion of these revenues.

Figure 5.0.2 Percentage of total combined telecommunications revenues by ownership group

Bar chart of Figure 5.0.2: Percentage of total telecommunications revenues by ownership group (%) Bar chart of Figure 5.0.2: Percentage of total telecommunications revenues by ownership group (%)
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows telecommunications revenues for the top 5 group of companies, the next top 5 group of companies and the remaining companies between 2014 and 2016.

Year Top 5 groups Next 5 groups Remaining groups/entities
2014 84 9 7
2015 84 9 7
2016 85 8 7

Source: CRTC data collection

Group Bell, Group Quebecor, Group Rogers, Group Shaw, and Group TELUS are Canada’s five largest providers of telecommunications services. Combined, including their affiliates, they accounted for 85% of total market revenues. The next five largest groups/entities accounted for 8% of total market revenues. The remaining groups/entities captured 7%.

The top 10 groups/entities are facilities-based service providers, meaning that they own and operate the transmission equipment required to provide telecommunications services. Of the remaining groups/entities, the vast majority are resellers.

Providers of telecommunications services are classified as either incumbent TSPs or alternative service providers. The alternative service providers consist of resellers and other facilities-based service providers, which include cable-based carriers.

Incumbent TSPs are the traditional telephone companies. For monitoring purposes, this group of TSPs is further subdivided in to large and small incumbent TSPs. Additional details on the classification of providers of telecommunications services (TSPs) can be found in Appendix 8.

The incumbent TSPs’ revenues have increased at an average annual rate of 1.1% over the 2012 to 2016 period. Over the same period, revenues for alternative service providers, including resellers, grew 5.3% annually. Overall, the alternative facilities-based service providers have experienced the strongest growth in telecommunications revenues, which increased 24%, from $14.4 billion in 2012 to $17.9 billion in 2016.

Table 5.0.4 Total telecommunications revenues by type of service provider ($ millions)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs Large incumbent TSPs 27,478.5 27,818.4 28,432.3 29,193.2 28,663.5 -1.8 1.1
Small incumbent TSPs 474.4 450.4 448.1 471.2 484.1 2.7 0.5
Subtotal 27,953.0 28,268.8 28,880.4 29,664.4 29,147.5 -1.7 1.1
Percentage of total (%) 64 63 63 62 60 - -
Alternative service providers Cable-based carriers 13,260.2 13,785.5 14,204.1 14,976.7 16,198.7 8.2 5.1
Other carriers 1,161.5 1,226.0 1,247.3 1,486.2 1,668.6 12.3 9.5
Facilities-based subtotal 14,421.7 15,011.6 15,451.4 16,462.9 17,867.3 8.5 5.5
Resellers 1,527.7 1,542.0 1,585.5 1,647.8 1,722.7 2.9 3.0
Subtotal 15,949.3 16,553.5 17,036.9 18,137.1 19,590.0 8.0 5.3
Percent of total (%) 36 37 37 38 40 - -
Total All 43,902.3 44,822.3 45,917.3 47,801.5 48,737.5 2.0 2.6

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays telecommunications revenues by type of TSP for the years 2012 to 2016. The out-of-territory revenues generated by large incumbent TSPs are no longer reported separately in this table; instead, these revenues are included in the incumbent TSPs’ total revenues.

v) Financial performance

There are a number of elements to consider in assessing a company’s financial performance or profitability. One of these is EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) as a percentage of total revenue (EBITDA margins).

Figure 5.0.3 Telecommunications revenues and EBITDA margins

Line chart of Figure 5.0.3: Telecommunications revenues and EBITDA margins. Line chart of Figure 5.0.3: Telecommunications revenues and EBITDA margins.
Text Description of Image

This line clustered column chart on two axes shows the wireline, wireless and total telecom revenues in billions of dollars and wireline and wireless EBITDA margins for each year between 2014 and 2016.

Revenue ($):
Category 2014 2015 2016
Total telecommunications 45.9 47.8 48.7
Wireline 24.0 24.2 24.3
Wireless 22.0 23.6 24.4
EBITDA margin (%):
Category 2014 2015 2016
Total telecommunications 37.0 39.8 38.4
Wireline 33.7 35.0 33.3
Wireless 40.6 44.6 43.4

Source: CRTC data collection

The EBITDA margins are calculated for TSPs that had telecommunications revenues greater than 80% of their total revenues.

This figure shows the total growth in telecommunications revenues from wireless and wireline services between 2014 and 2016. It also shows the EBITDA margins in percentages for wireless, wireline, and total telecommunications.

Non-facilities-based alternative service providers (i.e. resellers) generally had a lower EBITDA margin. In 2016, contrary to previous years, the EBITDA margin for other service providers (i.e. those that were neither cable-based nor traditional telephone companies) was similar to that of facilities-based service providers. Despite modest wireline and wireless revenue growth in 2016, both segments experienced a decrease in EBITDA margins from 35.0% and 44.6% to 33.3% and 43.4%, respectively.

Figure 5.0.4 Percentage of total revenues by size of entity and their respective EBITDA margins, 2016

Bar chart of Figure 5.0.4: Percentage of total revenues by size of entity and their respective EBITDA margins, 2016 Bar chart of Figure 5.0.4: Percentage of total revenues by size of entity and their respective EBITDA margins, 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the EBITDA margins of Canadian telecommunications entities whose telecommunications revenues were greater than 80% of their Canadian operating revenues and had revenues in one of the three revenue ranges in 2016.

Entity size Revenue (%) EBITDA margin (%)
Greater than $100 million 96.8 39.1
Between $10 and $100 million 2.3 19.5
Between $1 and $10 million 0.9 10.8

Source: CRTC data collection 

The percentage of revenues and profitability are calculated for TSPs that had telecommunications revenues greater than 80% of their total revenues to ensure proper representation of the telecommunications sector.

These companies were subdivided into three telecommunications revenue ranges: $1 million to $10 million, $10 million to $100 million, and greater than $100 million.

The collective EBITDA margin of companies with Canadian telecommunications revenues greater than 80% of their total revenues was 38.4%. As displayed above, companies with revenues in excess of $100 million displayed the highest EBITDA margin, 39.1%. Companies with telecommunications revenues between $10 million and $100 million had a 19.5 % EBITDA margin, and those between $1 million and $10 million had a 10.8% margin. Note, those companies with telecommunications revenues between $1 million and $10 million had the largest drop in EBITDA margins, from 17.2% in 2015 to 10.8% in 2016.

vi) Annual investment in plant and equipment

“Annual investment in plant and equipment” refers to the capital expenditures made to ‘replenish’ or upgrade a telecommunications service provider’s network. In 2016, TSPs with over $100 million in revenues spent $11.6 billion on capital expenditures, of which 46% was for access services and 23% was network related. The remaining 31% related to non-network activities such as billing and fleet operations.

Table 5.0.5 Telecommunications investments made in plant and equipment, by type of provider of telecommunications service ($ billions)
Sector Category Subcategory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireline Incumbent TSPs All 4.7 4.9 4.8 5.2 5.5 7.4 4.1
Alternative service providers Other facilities-based service providers (including cable-based carriers) 2.3 1.9 2.3 3.1 3.7 19.8 12.1
Resellers 0.04 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.03 24.2 -8.5
Subtotal 2.4 2.0 2.3 3.1 3.7 19.9 11.8
Total All 7.1 6.9 7.1 8.2 9.2 12.0 6.8
Wireless Total All 2.3 2.0 2.3 2.1 2.3 8.7 0.3
Total Total All 9.4 8.9 9.4 10.4 11.6 11.3 5.3

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the investments made by type of TSP for the period between 2012 and 2016.

The data for the incumbent TSPs includes their out-of-territory operations. The table also excludes TSPs with revenues less than $100 million, which are not required to provide this data and expenditures made to acquire wireless spectrum.

Since many carriers do not recognize and report spectrum as a capital expenditure, the investments made in spectrum were removed from the table above.

Investments in spectrum

Total investments made in spectrum between 2012 and 2016 were $0.29 billion, $0.28 billion, $5.26 billion, $2.96 billion, and $0.15 billion, respectively. The data excludes TSPs with revenues less than $100 million. The amounts reported in 2012 and 2013 reflect investments made mainly by satellite carriers. Investments made between 2014 and 2016 reflect investments made to acquire AWS-3 (advanced wireless services), 700 megahertz (MHz), and 2500 (MHz) spectrum.Footnote 5

Capital intensity

A useful measure to compare annual capital expenditures is “capital intensity.” Under this measure, cable-based carriers and other facilities-based service providers spent, on average, 40 cents from every dollar of revenue over the past three years on wireline facilities, compared to 36 cents by the incumbent TSPs.

Figure 5.0.5 Telecommunications capital expenditures as a percentage of revenues, by type of TSP

Line chart of Figure 5.0.5: Telecommunications capital expenditures as a percentage of revenues, by type of TSP Line chart of Figure 5.0.5: Telecommunications capital expenditures as a percentage of revenues, by type of TSP
Text Description of Image

This line chart shows the capital expenditures as a percentage of revenues by type of TSP for each year between 2012 and 2016. There are three types of TSPs in this line chart.

Year Wireless providers Incumbent TSPs Cable-based carriers and other facilities-based service providers
2012 12 30 37
2013 10 33 27
2014 11 32 32
2015 9 35 43
2016 10 40 46

Source: CRTC data collection

This figure shows the capital intensity of TSPs for the period between 2012 and 2016.

Capital intensity

is a measure of the degree or level a company spends on its plant and equipment. It is derived by dividing annual capital expenditures by annual revenues, expressed as a percentage.

5.1 Telecommunications retail sectors

Infographic summarizing section 5.1 - Telecommunications retail sectors Infographic summarizing section 5.1 - Telecommunications retail sectors
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the telecommunications retail sectors and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows revenues as a percentage of retail telecommunications revenues in 2016.
    1. Retail wireless: 52%;
    2. Wireline voice: 18%;
    3. Internet: 23%;
    4. Data and private line: 7%.
  2. Revenues: $44.7 billion, an increase of 1.8% from 2015.
  3. Vertical integration, percent of retail revenues captured by 8 companies operating in all telecommunication sectors: 87%.
  4. Internet revenue growth rate: 10.1%.
  5. Facilities-based service providers’ revenue market share as a percentage of total retail revenues: 97%.

As noted in the previous section, Canada’s telecommunications industry consists of six sectors: local, long distance, Internet, wireless, data, and private line.

In 2012, revenues from wireless services were $19.5 billion, or 49% of total retail revenues. By 2016, wireless service revenues increased to $23.2 billion, or 52% of total retail revenues. This growth was driven in large part by more subscriptions and heightened demand for wireless data services. Data revenues, excluding roaming and other services (e.g. interconnection), experienced an average annual growth rate of 15.2% between 2012 and 2016.

In 2016, Canadian retail telecommunications revenues were $44.7 billion, of which 48% were from wireline services. Of the wireline revenues, 59% were from residential services and 41% from business services. The top five incumbent TSPs and top five cable-based carriers accounted for 59% and 35% of retail telecommunications revenues, respectively. Collectively, these 10 companies captured 94% of all retail revenues. The remaining 6% of the revenues were garnered by a large number of resellers and other facilities-based service providers. The data suggests that companies which operated in multiple sectors continue to have clear competitive advantages relative to those that are less integrated.

Wireline revenues have increased at a much slower pace since 2012. Wireline service revenues increased from $20.6 billion in 2012, or 51% of retail telecommunications revenues, to $21.4 billion, or 48%, in 2016. This small expansion masks the fact that wireline voice service revenues have fallen by nearly $2.0 billion, or 20.4%, since 2012. The number of local lines has also declined from 17.7 million lines in 2012 to 15.2 million lines in 2016. In contrast, Internet was the only wireline service that experienced positive revenue growth in 2016. In fact, the Internet sector had the fastest growth across all sectors, with revenue growth of more than $930 million, or 10.1%, in 2016.

i) Revenues

Telecommunications revenues come from a variety of sources. Wireline voice service revenues come from local telephone and long distance services, while revenues from non-voice services come from Internet services, newer data protocols services (such as Ethernet and IP VPNFootnote 6), legacy data protocols services (such as X.25 and frame relay), and private line. Wireless service revenues come from mobile voice and data services, and from the sale and rental of mobile devices.

Table 5.1.1 Telecommunications retail revenues, by market sector ($ billions)
Sector Category Subcategory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireless Total Total wireless 19.5 20.2 20.9 22.5 23.2 3.2 4.5
Wireline Wireline voice Local 7.8 7.7 7.4 7.1 6.6 -7.2 -4.0
Long distance 2.1 1.9 1.8 1.5 1.3 -14.5 -11.9
Subtotal 10.0 9.6 9.2 8.7 7.9 -8.4 -5.6
Non-voice Internet 7.2 7.7 8.4 9.2 10.2 10.1 9.1
Newer data protocols 1.8 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 -2.2 0.4
Legacy data protocols, private line, and other 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.6 1.5 -4.7 -2.8
Data protocols, private line and other subtotal 3.5 3.6 3.6 3.5 3.3 -3.3 -1.1
Non-voice subtotal 10.7 11.3 12.0 12.7 13.5 6.4 6.1
Total Total wireline 20.6 20.9 21.2 21.4 21.4 0.4 1.0
Total Total Grand total 40.2 41.1 42.2 43.9 44.7 1.8 2.7

Source: CRTC data collection

This table presents a detailed breakdown of the retail revenues, annual growth rates and the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for wireline and wireless services by market sector for the years 2012 to 2016.

Telecommunications service revenues exclude revenues from the sale and rental of wireline telephone sets.

Similar to last year, revenue growth comes from the Internet and wireless sectors. These sectors reported growth rates of 10.1% and 3.2%, respectively, while other sectors’ revenues decreased.

Wireline services are generally a household or a business service, whereas wireless services are an individual or personal type of service. In 2015, the most recent period for which telephone penetration data is available from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending, 71.9% of households had wireline service, 86.1% had wireless service, 13.2% had only wireline service, and 27.5% had only wireless service.

Figure 5.1.1 Telecommunications wireline and wireless retail revenues

Line chart of Figure 5.1.1: Telecommunications wireline and wireless retail revenues Line chart of Figure 5.1.1: Telecommunications wireline and wireless retail revenues
Text Description of Image

This line and stacked column chart shows both wireline and wireless revenues in billions of dollars between 2012 and 2016. The line on the graph represent retail wireline revenues as a percentage of total retail telecommunications revenues.

Year Wireline revenues Wireless revenues Percent wireline revenues
2012 20.6 19.5 51.4
2013 20.9 20.2 50.9
2014 21.2 20.9 50.3
2015 21.4 22.5 48.7
2016 21.4 23.2 48.0

Source: CRTC data collection

This graph presents the retail wireline and wireless revenues for the years 2012 to 2016. Over this period, aggregate revenues from wireline and wireless services have increased steadily. The line on the graph represents retail wireline revenues as a percentage of total retail telecommunications revenues.

Figure 5.1.2 Distribution of telecommunications retail revenues, by market sector

Circularcharts of Figure 5.1.2: Distribution of telecommunications revenues, by market sector Circularcharts of Figure 5.1.2: Distribution of telecommunications revenues, by market sector
Text Description of Image

These are side by side circular charts that show the telecommunications revenue distribution by market segment for 2012 and 2016. The five market segments displayed in each of circular chart are local and access, long distance, internet, data and private line, and wireless.

Telecommunications retail revenues, by market sector 2012:
Market sector Percentage
Wireless 49
Local 19
Long distance 5
Internet 18
Data and private line 9
Telecommunications retail revenues, by market sector 2016:
Market sector Percentage
Wireless 52
Local 15
Long distance 3
Internet 23
Data and private line 7

Source: CRTC data collection

These two figures show the distribution of retail telecommunications revenues by market sector for two periods, 2012 and 2016. Wireless data services are captured within the wireless market sector. These services are capturing increasingly larger shares of the market, while the market share of long distance and local telephone services has declined.

ii) Technology indicators

Technology has been a key driver of growth in the telecommunications industry. It has promoted network efficiencies, encouraged service and product innovation, and facilitated competition. Revenues from legacy services have generally been declining as consumers switch to other services that provide greater functionality and flexibility.

Figure 5.1.3 Annual revenue change for newer and legacy telecommunications services, by technology

Clustered column chart of Figure 5.1.3: Annual revenue change for newer and legacy telecommunications services, by technology Clustered column chart of Figure 5.1.3: Annual revenue change for newer and legacy telecommunications services, by technology
Text Description of Image

This clustered column charts shows the revenue growth from newer telecommunication services versus legacy telecommunication services in billions of dollars for each year between 2014 and 2016. Newer services consists of wireless, Internet, and newer data protocols. Legacy services consists of local and access, legacy data and private line, and long distance.

Newer services:
Year Wireless Internet Newer protocols
2014 0.7 0.7 0.1
2015 1.6 0.8 0.0
2016 0.7 0.9 0.0
Legacy services:
Year Local Legacy data and private line Long distance
2014 -0.2 0.0 -0.2
2015 -0.3 -0.1 -0.2
2016 -0.5 -0.1 -0.2

Source: CRTC data collection

Newer technologies are changing the way Canadians access telecommunications services. This graph shows the annual change in revenues for newer technologies such as wireless, Internet, and other services based on data protocols in each of the past three years. The graph also compares the annual revenue change for newer services and for legacy services such as local, legacy data, and private line, and long distance services.

“Newer data protocols” refer to services using protocols such as Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP). Legacy data refers to services using protocols such as X.25 and frame relay.

Figure 5.1.4 Residential IP-based service revenues

Bar chart of Figure 5.1.4: Residential IP-based service revenues Bar chart of Figure 5.1.4: Residential IP-based service revenues
Text Description of Image

This bar chart show residential IPTV, Internet access, voice via cable and IP-provisioned service revenues (billions) between 2012 and 2016.

Year IPTV Internet access Voice via cable Total
2012 0.6 5.4 1.3 7.3
2013 0.9 5.9 1.4 8.3
2014 1.3 6.5 1.4 9.2
2015 1.6 7.2 1.3 10.1
2015 1.8 8.0 1.2 11.1

Source: CRTC data collection

While Internet Protocol television (IPTV) revenues are growing steadily, more growth is driven by Internet access revenues.

Figure 5.1.5 Homes passed by fibre-optic cable (millions), 2016

Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.1.5: Homes passed by fibre-optic cable, 2016 Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.1.5: Homes passed by fibre-optic cable, 2016
Text Description of Image

This stacked bar chart shows the number homes that were either passed by fibre-based lines to the premise (FTTP) or to the node (FTTN) or both (FTTN&P), by type of provider. The number of line are reported in millions.

Type Incumbents Cable-based carriers Other facilities-based service providers
FTTP 3.47 0.15 -
FTTN 7.98 13.11 -
FTTN&P 1.14 0.0 -
Total 12.59 13.26 0.04

Source: CRTC data collection

Providers of telecommunications service are increasingly adopting fibre-optic-based systems. This graph shows the number of premises that were passed by fibre-based lines (fibre-to-the-premises, or FTTP), copper lines connected to a node that was served by a fibre-optic cable (fibre-to-the-node, or FTTN), or both (FTTN&P). The node connected by fibre-optic cable is the closest node to the premises. A node is a pedestal where connections are made. The number of homes passed refers to the number of homes that have access to the various telecommunications services (i.e. voice and Internet) that rely on this underlying technology.

A fibre-optic cable

is a cable containing one or more strands that carry light. The light is used as a medium to transmit data. A fibre-optic cable is excellent for transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths or capacity than wire cables.

Figure 5.1.6 Percentage of homes using fibre-optic cable provided by large incumbent TSPs

Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.1.6: Percentage of homes using fibre-optic cable provided by large incumbent TSPs Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.1.6: Percentage of homes using fibre-optic cable provided by large incumbent TSPs
Text Description of Image

The stacked bar chart contain the percentage of FTTN and FTTP lines for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Percentage of residential lines using fibre-optic cable:
Year FTTN FTTP Total
2014 18.9% 4.6% 23.6%
2015 18.2% 6.6% 24.8%
2016 17.5% 8.6% 26.1%

Source: CRTC data collection

These figures show the percentage of fibre-based lines as a percentage of total residential lines between 2014 and 2016.

iii) Competitive landscape

Facilities-based providers of telecommunications services accounted for 97% of the retail telecommunication revenues in 2016. Cable-based carriers and other facilities-based alternative providers of telecommunications services are the largest source of competition to the incumbent TSPs.

Figure 5.1.7 Total retail telecommunications revenue market share by type of service provider, 2016

Donut chart of Figure 5.1.7: Total telecommunications revenue market share, by type of service provider, 2016 Donut chart of Figure 5.1.7: Total telecommunications revenue market share, by type of service provider, 2016
Text Description of Image

This is a single donut chart that shows the telecommunications revenue market share by type of service provider in 2016. There are three types of service providers in this donut chart.

Type Percentage
Cable based carriers and other facilities serves providers 38
Resellers 3
Incumbent TSPs 59

Source: CRTC data collection

Total retail telecommunications revenues in 2016 were $44.7 billion. This chart shows the percentage of revenues captured by separate groups of TSPs. The incumbent TSPs captured the largest share of the market. Cable-based carriers and other facilities-based alternative TSPs captured the next largest share, followed by resellers.

Table 5.1.2 Number and percentage of retail telecommunications revenues generated by companies operating in multiple sectors
Number of sectors in which groups or entities are operating Number of reporting groups or entities operating in these sectors Percentage of telecom revenues generated (%)
2014 2015 2016 2014 2015 2016
6 8 7 8 84 82 87
5 11 14 18 10 10 8
4 25 23 31 2 1 1
3 42 36 37 1 2 2
2 22 37 25 1 2 2
1 43 57 43 2 3 0.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the dominance of larger companies in the telecommunications market sectors. For example, although few companies operate in all six sectors (local, long distance, Internet, wireless, data, and private line), these companies captured almost 87% of total market revenues. Reporting groups include affiliated companies.

Entities with services in five or more market sectors are generally large facilities-based service providers with annual revenues greater than $100 million. Companies with services in two or fewer market sectors are generally resellers with annual revenues less than $10 million.

Table 5.1.3 Wireline telecommunications revenue market share (%) by type of service provider, 2016
Type Subtype Residential Business Total
Incumbent TSPs Incumbent TSPs 46.8 68.5 55.6
Alternative service providers Cable-based carriers and other facilities-based service providers 47.4 22.7 37.4
Resellers 5.9 8.7 7.0
Subtotal 53.2 31.5 44.4

Source: CRTC data collection

In this table, revenue market shares for wireline telecommunications services are split into residential and business sources for incumbent TSPs, as well as alternative service providers, such as resellers, cable-based carriers, and other facilities-based service providers.

In the wireline telecommunications market sectors, alternative service providers made greater revenue gains in both the residential and business markets. Contributing to this increase are the cable companies that upgraded their cable networks to provide telephony services to their residential television subscribers.

Wireline market sectors include

local telephone market sector, long distance market sector, Internet market sector and data and private line market sector.

iv) Contribution

In 2016, approximately 10% of residential telephone lines were in high-cost serving areas. TSPs, or groups of related TSPs, with at least $10 million in Canadian telecommunications service revenues, contributed towards the provision of residential telephone service in these areas. The total amount of subsidies paid to local exchanges carriers (LECs) has declined to $105 million in 2016.As mentioned earlier, the Commission will be phasing out the local service subsidy regime in light of its shift in focus towards broadband Internet access services.

High-cost serving areas (HCSAs)

are narrowly defined rate bands that clearly identify areas where the cost of providing service is substantially higher than the average cost in other parts of an incumbent local exchange carrier's territory (such as remote areas and certain rural areas).

Figure 5.1.8 Subsidy paid to local exchange carriers (LECs) and the revenue-percent charge

Bar and line chart of Figure 5.1.8: Subsidy paid to local exchange carriers and the revenue-percent charge Bar and line chart of Figure 5.1.8: Subsidy paid to local exchange carriers and the revenue-percent charge
Text Description of Image

This bar and line chart shows the subsidy received by LECs in millions of dollars and contribution rates in percentage:

Year Subsidy received by LECs Contribution rate
2012 132 0.63
2013 118 0.53
2014 108 0.55
2015 107 0.55
2016 105 0.53

Sources: CRTC data collection and decisions

v) Consumer voices

In 2016, the CRTC and the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (CCTS) had over 30,000 communications with Canadians regarding telecommunications services. Of these, 53% were with the CRTC and 47% were with the CCTS. Wireless service issues were the most common (35%), followed by Internet issues (22%), and telemarketing issues (6.2%).

The underlying issues of these complaints were billing errors (28%), CRTC decisions and policies (23%), contract disputes/terms of service (18%), and service delivery/provision of service (15%).

What is the CCTS?

The CCTS is an independent organization dedicated to working with consumers and service providers to resolve complaints about telephone and Internet services. Its structure and mandate were approved by the CRTC. The CCTS handles complaints about most telecommunications services provided to individuals and small businesses, including home phone, wireless, Internet, and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. The CCTS is also responsible for administering the Wireless Code. Additional information on the CCTS can be found at https://www.ccts-cprst.ca/

Table 5.1.4 Number of telecommunications-related contacts received by the CRTC by type of issue and subject, 2016
Subject CRTC policies/ decisions Billing /rates Quality of service Provision of service Terms of service Other Total
Telemarketing 4,165 4 6 3 1 19 4,198
Incumbent telephone companies 881 460 277 115 116 20 1,869
Wireless services 956 1,395 749 233 470 102 3,905
Internet services 1,334 694 872 539 185 138 3,762
Telecommunication services 1,444 1,003 775 198 178 58 3,656
Competitive local exchange carriers 104 75 74 32 29 6 320
Alternative providers of long distance service 20 57 7 5 4 0 93
VoIP services 72 13 175 105 12 1 378
Pay telephone services 24 15 13 5 5 0 62
Total 9,000 3,716 2,948 1,235 1,000 344 18,243

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 5.1.5 Summary of issues raised in telecommunications complaints handled by the CCTS (2015-2016)
Service Billing error Contract dispute Service delivery Credit management Total
Wireless services 3,364 2,706 1,402 459 7,931
Internet access 1,634 1,189 1,209 145 4,177
Local telephone 1,195 973 816 102 3,086
Long distance 288 91 171 12 562
Directory assistance 3 1 - - 4
White page directories - - - - 0
Operator services 1 - - - 1
Total 6,485 4,960 3,598 718 15,761

Source: CCTS annual report

5.2 Wireline voice retail sector

Infographic summarizing section 5.2 – Wireline voice retail sector Infographic summarizing section 5.2 – Wireline voice retail sector
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the wireline voice retail sector and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows the retail wireline voice revenues as a percentage of total retail telecommunications revenues in 2016: 18%. Total telecommunications retail revenues were $44.7 billion.
  2. Revenues: $7.8 billion, a decrease of 8.5% from 2015.
  3. Local telephone service revenues: $6.5 billion, a decrease of 7.2% from 2015.
  4. VoIP Access-independent connections: 0.6 million (4% of local telephone lines).
  5. Long distance service revenues: $1.3 billion, a decrease of 14.5% from 2015.

Over 150 companies provide local and long distance services across Canada. In 2016, the retail wireline voice sector reported $7.8 billion in revenues, 84% of which was from local telephone services. Revenues from wireline voice services decreased $728 million, or 8.5%, from the previous year. This decline is mostly from local services (70%)

Cable-based carriers accounted for approximately 30% of residential local and long distance revenues in 2016, virtually unchanged since 2013.

The Canadian wireline sector continues to face pressure from technological substitution such as wireless services, video calling applications, and instant messaging. Steady losses in the wireline voice retail sector continued in 2016 as providers reported nearly 500,000 in line reductions. The wireless retail sector gained approximately 1 million new subscribers for the same year.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services have opened the wireline voice market sector to new non-traditional providers. Access-independent VoIP providers use broadband Internet, giving them less control over the quality of the service, to provide voice services similar to those of traditional providers at a fraction of the cost. Canadians subscribing to access-independent VoIP service now represent 569,000 subscribers, or approximately 4% of retail local telephone lines.

A monthly subscription to local telephone service typically includes unlimited local calling within a specific geographic area, emergency calling (9-1-1), message relay services, and access to long distance and dial-up Internet services. Optional add-on services or features include call display, call forwarding, and conference calling. Long distance service provides voice communication between two different local calling areas and is generally billed on a per-minute basis or offered as a flat-rate option.

i) Revenues

Table 5.2.1 Local and long distance retail revenues ($ millions)
Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Total retail local revenues 7,821 7,661 7,441 7,146 6,635 -7.2 -4.0
Less: Subsidy received 132 118 108 107 105 -1.5 -5.4
Net local service revenues 7,690 7,544 7,333 7,039 6,529 -7.2 -4.0
Long distance retail revenues 2,134 1,949 1,755 1,506 1,287 -14.5 -11.9
Local and long distance retail revenues 9,824 9,493 9,088 8,545 7,817 -8.5 -5.6

Source: CRTC data collection

Total retail local revenues include revenues from local telephone service provided to residential and business customers. They include revenues from calling features such as call display and call forwarding, as well as installation and repair, and excludes revenues from the sale and rental of telephone sets.

Basic local telephone service with access to long distance service is part of the Commission’s basic service objective. The obligation to serve and the basic service objective are regulatory measures imposed on incumbent local telephone companies. To this end, these companies receive a subsidy from a national contribution fund in which all telephone service providers are required to participate.

In December 2016, the Commission issued Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496, which set out policies and actions the Commission is taking to help Canadians participate in the digital economy and society. To help meet the universal service objective, the Commission began to shift the focus of its regulatory frameworks from wireline voice services to broadband Internet access services. The Commission will begin to phase out the subsidy that supports local telephone service and review its voice service regulatory frameworks.

This subsidy is excluded from the remaining tables and figures in this section.

Local retail revenues represent 84% of all local and long distance retail revenues, steadily increasing from 78% in 2012.

Table 5.2.2 Residential local telephone and long distance service retail revenues by type of TSP ($ millions)
Type of TSP Type of revenue 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs Local 2,922 2,696 2,559 2,402 2,189 -8.9 -7.0
Long distance 932 802 687 586 507 -13.6 -14.1
Total 3,854 3,498 3,246 2,989 2,695 -9.8 -8.5
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) Local 188 164 216 166 157 -5.4 -4.4
Long distance 281 211 178 159 105 -33.8 -21.8
Total 469 375 393 325 263 -19.3 -13.5
Cable-based carriers Local 1,307 1,388 1,399 1,347 1,225 -9.1 -1.6
Long distance 210 201 180 148 124 -15.9 -12.3
Total 1,517 1,589 1,580 1,495 1,349 -9.7 -2.9
All TSPs Local 4,417 4,248 4,174 3,916 3,571 -8.8 -5.2
Long distance 1,424 1,213 1,045 893 736 -17.6 -15.2
Total 5,840 5,462 5,219 4,809 4,307 -10.4 -7.3

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays revenues and annual revenue growth rates from residential local and long distance services, by type of provider, from 2012 to 2016. The annual growth rates indicate that residential revenues from both local and long distance services are in decline for all types of service providers except cable-based carriers and, to a lesser extent, other alternative service providers. These carriers have increased their revenues from local telephone service and have the lowest decline in revenues from long distance services.

Table 5.2.3 Business local telephone and long distance retail revenues by type of TSP ($ millions)
Type of TSP Type of revenue 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs Local 2,970 2,909 2,781 2,672 2,448 -8.4 -4.7
Long distance 538 533 550 458 376 -17.9 -8.6
Total 3,508 3,442 3,331 3,130 2,824 -9.8 -5.3
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) Local 93 141 119 180 230 28.1 25.6
Long distance 108 142 109 109 126 15.7 4.0
Total 200 283 228 289 356 23.4 15.5
Cable-based carriers Local 210 247 258 272 280 3.1 7.5
Long distance 66 60 52 46 49 7.0 -7.1
Total 276 307 310 317 329 3.7 4.5
All TSPs Local 3,273 3,295 3,159 3,123 2,958 -5.3 -2.5
Long distance 711 736 710 613 551 -10.1 -6.2
Total 3,984 4,031 3,869 3,736 3,509 -6.1 -3.1

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays revenues and annual revenue growth rates from business local and long distance services, by type of provider, from 2012 to 2016. Similar to the residential market, the business market is in decline, but at a slower rate. Canadian businesses appear to be moving to alternative service providers, including cable-based carriers, because both of these types of providers are experiencing growth in the local market. Part of the alternative service providers’ revenue increase is due to ownership transactions. Alternative service providers are not limited only to VoIP, some offer traditional phone services.

Table 5.2.4 Long distance retail revenues by type and size of provider ($ millions)
Size Type of provider 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Telecom revenues over $100 million Incumbent TSPs 1,444 1,311 1,216 1,017 856 -15.8 -12.2
Alternative service providers 68 56 45 34 46 35.7 -9.2
Cable-based carriers 272 257 228 188 167 -11.1 -11.5
Subtotal 1,783 1,624 1,488 1,239 1,069 -13.7 -12.0
Telecom revenues between $10 million and $100 million All providers 268 251 196 191 146 -23.2 -14.0
Telecom revenues below $10 million All providers 83 74 70 77 72 -6.8 -3.6
Total All providers 2,134 1,949 1,755 1,506 1,287 -14.5 -11.9

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays long distance revenues and annual revenue growth, by type and size of service provider, as measured by their total Canadian telecommunications revenues. As a group, TSPs with telecommunications revenues over $100 million captured nearly 83% of the revenues from long distance services, which is the same as the 2012-2016 average. TSPs with telecommunications revenues less than $100 million captured 17% of revenues from long distance services. These smaller service providers generally operate in relatively small niche markets that cater to the needs of specific consumers, such as prepaid phone card users. While revenues of alternative service providers grew significantly from 2015 to 2016, a portion of the growth is due to ownership transactions.

ii) Subscriber data

Local telephone service subscriber data is represented by the number of telephone lines, while minutes are used for long distance.

This section categorizes local telephone lines into two types: managed and non-managed. A managed line refers to telephone service that uses a local service provider’s network, and the provider has control over call quality. A non-managed line refers to telephone service that is provided using the public Internet, with the local service provider having less control over the quality of service. This type of local service is referred to as access-independent VoIP.

Table 5.2.5 Number of retail managed and non-managed local telephone lines (thousands)
Type of line 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Managed local telephone lines 16,866 16,251 15,710 14,986 14,587 -2.7 -3.6
Non-managed local telephone lines (access independent lines) 861 670 694 626 569 -9.2 -9.8
Total 17,726 16,921 16,403 15,612 15,155 -2.9 -3.8

Source: CRTC data collection

The number of managed local telephone lines decreased from 17.7 million lines in 2012 to 15.2 million lines in 2016. The number of non-managed local lines decreased from 861,000 in 2012 to 569,000 in 2016. Consistent with the 2013-2016 average, managed local telephone lines accounted for 96% of telephone lines in 2016.

Table 5.2.6 Residential and business local telephone lines by type of TSP (thousands)
Type of TSP Type of line 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs Residential 6,975 6,442 5,981 5,566 5,314 -4.5 -6.6
Business 5,084 4,890 4,670 4,335 4,044 -6.7 -5.6
Total 12,059 11,332 10,650 9,901 9,358 -5.5 -6.1
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) Residential 723 482 711 798 796 -0.3 2.4
Business 264 261 224 233 494 112.0 16.9
Total 987 743 935 1,031 1,290 25.1 6.9
Cable-based carriers Residential 4,258 4,314 4,247 4,031 3,828 -5.0 -2.6
Business 422 531 571 649 680 4.8 12.6
Total 4,681 4,846 4,818 4,681 4,507 -3.7 -0.9
All TSPs Residential 11,956 11,238 10,939 10,395 9,938 -4.4 -4.5
Business 5,770 5,683 5,465 5,217 5,218 0.0 -2.5
Total 17,726 16,921 16,403 15,612 15,155 -2.9 -3.8

Source: CRTC data collection

This table presents the number of residential and business telephone lines, by type of service provider, and their respective annual growth rates. The total number of telephone lines has declined in both the residential and business markets. However, the number of residential telephone lines has declined more quickly than those of business.

The use of VoIP services in the residential and business markets varies significantly. Cable-based carriers provide local telephone service – mostly to residential customers – over their managed network using access-dependent VoIP technology. They leverage existing cable infrastructure to provide local telephone service via their cable networks. As a result, these carriers are the largest competitor to the traditional telephone companies in the residential market. Approximately 39% of households subscribed to local telephone service from a cable-based carrier in 2016, virtually unchanged since 2014.

Figure 5.2.1 Retail VoIP local lines, access-dependent and access-independent, by market

Bar chart of Figure 5.2.1: Retail VoIP local lines, access-dependent and access-independent, by market Bar chart of Figure 5.2.1: Retail VoIP local lines, access-dependent and access-independent, by market
Text Description of Image

This bar chart contains lines in millions categorized by Residential VoIP Access dependent, Residential VoIP Access independent and Business VoIP Access dependent, Business VoIP Access independent for both 2015 and 2016.

2015:
Type Residential Business
VoIP Access dependent 4.3 0.9
VoIP Access independent 0.6 0.1
2016:
Type Residential Business
VoIP Access dependent 4.1 0.9
VoIP Access independent 0.5 0.05

Source: CRTC data collection

In 2016, there were 4.9 million access-dependent lines, compared to 0.6 million access-independent lines.

iii) Performance indicators

Table 5.2.7 Local and long distance retail monthly revenues ($), per line
Type of line 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Residential 40.16 39.25 39.22 37.25 35.31 -5.2 -3.2
Business 56.46 58.66 57.84 58.29 56.05 -3.8 -0.2

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 5.2.8 Long distance retail monthly revenues ($), per line
Type of line 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Residential 9.79 8.72 7.85 6.92 6.04 -12.8 -11.4
Business 10.08 10.71 10.63 9.56 8.80 -8.0 -3.3

Source: CRTC data collection

Monthly revenue per line

is calculated by (i) dividing the annual service revenues by the average number of local lines in the year, and (ii) dividing the result by 12. The average number of lines is determined by dividing the sum of the number of lines at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year by two.

Figure 5.2.2 Long distance retail monthly revenues ($), per line

Line chart of Figure 5.2.2: Long distance retail monthly revenues ($), per line 2006 to 2016 Line chart of Figure 5.2.2: Long distance retail monthly revenues ($), per line 2006 to 2016
Text Description of Image

Line 1 shows monthly residential revenue per line ($), while line 2 shows revenue per line for the business segment.

Residential monthly revenue per line ($):
Year Revenue per line
2006 15.52
2007 14.51
2008 13.91
2009 13.13
2010 11.44
2011 10.74
2012 9.79
2013 8.72
2014 7.85
2015 6.98
2016 6.04
Business monthly revenue per line ($):
Year Revenue per line
2006 19.46
2007 17.10
2008 15.35
2009 14.91
2010 12.99
2011 11.30
2012 10.08
2013 10.71
2014 10.63
2015 9.56
2016 8.80

Source: CRTC data collection

Aside from a slight increase in long distance revenue per business line per month from 2012 to 2013, long distance revenues per line have been consistently decreasing over the last decade for both residential and business lines.

Table 5.2.9 Local telephone retail service monthly revenues ($) per line, by type of TSP
Type of line Type of TSP 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Residential local service Incumbent TSPs 33.47 33.49 34.33 34.68 33.53 -3.3 0.0
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) 22.90 22.72 30.12 18.33 16.45 -10.3 -7.9
Cable-based carriers 26.18 26.99 27.24 27.12 25.98 -4.2 -0.2
Total residential 30.37 30.53 31.37 30.59 29.27 -4.3 -0.9
Business local service Incumbent TSPs 47.44 48.61 48.48 49.45 48.68 -1.5 0.6
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) 31.54 44.86 41.02 65.71 52.81 -19.6 13.8
Cable-based carriers 41.86 43.16 39.04 37.08 35.16 -5.2 -4.3
Total business 46.39 47.95 47.23 48.73 47.25 -3.0 0.5

Source: CRTC data collection

Overall, alternative service providers experienced the largest declines in average monthly revenues per line during the 2012-2016 period.

Table 5.2.10 Long distance retail revenues ($) per minute, by type of TSP
Type of line Type of TSP 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Residential local service Incumbent TSPs 0.088 0.087 0.085 0.083 0.089 7.3 0.4
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) 0.051 0.047 0.043 0.040 0.034 -14.9 -9.4
Cable-based carriers 0.042 0.043 0.043 0.043 0.039 -8.4 -1.7
Total residential 0.067 0.066 0.067 0.062 0.062 -0.1 -2.0
Business local service Incumbent TSPs 0.045 0.044 0.044 0.038 0.041 7.6 -2.5
Alternative service providers (excluding cable-based carriers) 0.038 0.044 0.040 0.069 0.032 -54.1 -4.4
Cable-based carriers 0.025 0.024 0.025 0.025 0.024 -0.5 -0.6
Total business 0.040 0.043 0.041 0.039 0.036 -8.1 -2.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the average long distance revenues per minute for the residential and business markets by type of service provider. On average, residential lines generate more revenues per minute for long distance service than business lines do. In both cases, long distance revenues per minute have been trending downward. In 2016, residential lines generated 6.2 cents of revenue per minute, compared to 3.6 cents for business lines.

Cable-based carriers generally had the lowest revenues per minute in both the residential and business markets.

iv) Price

Basic local telephone service includes unlimited calling within a geographic area, 9-1-1 services, and message relay services, as well as access to long distance services. Approximately 11% of households subscribing to wireline local service (unchanged from 2015) subscribe to basic service, while the remaining 89% subscribe to additional local features, which may be bundled with other services such as Internet, television, or wireless. The figures below display the price of basic local telephone service on a stand-alone basis in a number of urban and rural centres.

Excluding access-independent VoIP service providers, urban areas tend to have two to three service providers, while rural areas tend to depend on a sole service provider.

Urban centres

The bar charts below display the range of monthly prices for basic local service in 24 major urban centres in Canada. The blue bar displays the difference between the lowest and the highest price. The number in brackets along the vertical axis represents the number of providers within the urban centre.

Figure 5.2.3 Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in major urban centres, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.2.3: Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in major urban centres, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.2.3: Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in major urban centres, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest prices of basic local telephone service by major centre, as well as the number of service providers in each centre.

Urban Centres Low price Variance between high and low price High price
Vancouver (2) 31 4 35
Victoria (2) 31 5 36
Calgary (2) 31 5 36
Edmonton (2) 31 5 36
Saskatoon (2) 22 9 31
Regina (2) 22 8 30
Winnipeg (2) 31 0 31
Toronto (2) 31 7 38
Ottawa-Gatineau (3) 28 10 38
Hamilton (3) 31 7 38
London (3) 30 8 38
Kitchener-Waterloo (3) 30 8 38
St. Catharines - Niagara (2) 31 7 38
Windsor (2) 31 7 38
Oshawa (2) 31 7 38
Montréal (3) 23 8 31
Québec (2) 28 2 31
Fredericton (2) 29 2 31
Charlottetown (2) 31 1 32
Halifax (2) 31 1 32
St. John's (2) 29 2 31
Whitehorse (2) 32 8 40
Yellowknife (2) 32 8 40
Iqaluit (2) 33 7 40

Source: CRTC data collection

The price of basic local service varied across the major urban centres from a minimum of $22 per month in Regina and Saskatoon to a maximum of $40 in Iqaluit, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse. In some cases, service providers did not provide the price of basic local telephone service and provided the price for the service that came closest to the definition. Access-independent VoIP, not included above, is available in many major urban centres.

Rural communities

Figure 5.2.4 Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, by province and territory, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.2.4: Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, by province and territory, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.2.4: Price of basic local telephone service ($/month) and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, by province and territory, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest prices of basic local telephone service in rural and urban communities, by province or territory, as well as the number of service providers in the rural and urban communities.

Centres Lowest price Variance between highest and lowest price Highest price
B.C. Rural (1/1) 35 1 36
B.C. Urban (2/2) 31 9 40
Alta. Rural (1/1) 36 0 36
Alta. Urban (2/2) 31 5 36
Sask. Rural (1/1) 32 0 32
Sask. Urban (2/2) 22 9 31
Man. Rural (1/1) 31 0 31
Man. Urban (2) 31 0 31
Ont. Rural (0/2) 28 10 38
Ont. Urban (2/3) 28 10 38
Que. Rural (1/2) 28 7 35
Que. Urban (2/3) 23 8 31
N.B. Rural (1/1) 27 0 27
N.B. Urban (2) 29 2 31
P.E.I Rural (2/2) 31 1 32
P.E.I Urban (2) 31 1 32
N.S. Rural (1/1) 31 0 31
N.S. Urban (2/2) 31 1 32
N.L. Rural (2/2) 25 7 32
N.L. Urban (2) 29 2 31
Y.T. Rural (1/1) 33 0 33
Y.T. Urban (2) 32 8 40
N.W.T Rural (1/1) 33 0 33
N.W.T Urban (2) 32 8 40
Nvt. Rural (1/1) 33 0 33
Nvt. Urban (2) 33 7 40

Source: CRTC data collection

This bar chart displays the range of monthly prices for basic local telephone service in 54 rural communities in Canada. The number appearing in parentheses along the vertical axis indicates the range in the number of basic local telephone service providers in each rural centre or community responding to the survey. The price of basic local telephone service in rural communities varied, from lows of $25 to $36 per month to highs of $27 to $38 per month.

In some cases, service providers did not provide basic local telephone service. These companies provided the price for the service that came closest to the definition of basic local telephone service as defined in the survey.

Which rural communities were included?

54 rural communities were selected to assess the price of local telephone services (see Appendix 9). The survey set out the following criteria:

  • the community was not part of one of the census metropolitan areas of the 24 urban centres;
  • the community had a population density of fewer than 400 people per square kilometre, or its population centre had fewer than 1,000 people;
  • the number of communities selected in each province/territory was proportional to the population of the province/territory; and
  • the communities were not clustered together.

v) Type of local facilities

Leased lines are lines acquired from facilities-based carriers. Resold lines connect directly from the underlying facilities-based carrier’s network to a customer.

Figure 5.2.5 Alternative service providers’ (including cable-based carriers) local retail lines, by type of facility

Bar chart of Figure 5.2.5: Alternative TSP and cable-based carriers local retail lines, by type of facility Bar chart of Figure 5.2.5: Alternative TSP and cable-based carriers local retail lines, by type of facility
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows local retail lines in millions, categorized by owned, leased and resold lines for the years 2012 through 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Owned 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.5 4.4
Leased 0.1 0.1 0.04 0.04 0.04
Resold 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.02

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.2.6 Local lines by type of line, (%), 2016

Circular chart of Figure 5.2.6: Percentage of local lines by type of line, 2016 Circular chart of Figure 5.2.6: Percentage of local lines by type of line, 2016
Text Description of Image

This circular chart shows the type of local lines as a percentage for 2016.

Remaining managed lines 94.4%
Unmanaged lines 3.8%
Managed lines (unbundled loop) 1.8%

Source: CRTC data collection

Not all unbundled loops are used for voice communication, but for purposes of this figure, they are included. The predominant means of competition is via cable facilities or VoIP.

vi) Competitive landscape

Traditionally, large incumbent TSPs were the sole providers of long distance services in Canada. With the introduction of long distance competition in 1992, other service providers entered the market.

Table 5.2.11 Large incumbent TSPs’ retail long distance revenue market share (%), by region
Region 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
B.C., Alberta 79 78 81 78 78
Saskatchewan 93 94 94 94 95
Manitoba 83 83 83 83 66
Ontario, Quebec 74 79 79 80 78
Atlantic 83 88 88 89 88
The North 99 99 99 99 99

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the percentage of retail long distance revenues captured by the large incumbent TSPs. “The North” includes Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

vii) Pay telephone service

Large incumbent TSPs continue to be the primary providers of payphone service across Canada.

Table 5.2.12 Large incumbent TSPs’ payphone revenues
Metric 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Annual revenue per payphone ($) 682 559 462 413 385 -6.7 -13.3
Total revenues ($ million) 64.0 47.4 34.1 27.7 22.2 -19.9 -23.3

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 5.2.13 Large incumbent TSPs’ payphone quantities
Metric 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Number of payphones 93,771 84,870 73,883 66,997 57,542
Number of payphones per 1,000 households 6.8 6.1 5.6 4.8 3.9
Coin-operated payphones as a percentage of total payphones 92.7% 91.5% 91.8% 91.3% 95.8%
Percentage of payphones equipped with Teletype capability 9.3% 12.6% 12.4% 12.6% 12.9%

Source: CRTC data collection

In 2016, 42 payphones were equipped with Internet capability.

5.3 Retail Internet sector and broadband availability

Infographic summarizing section 5.3 – Retail Internet sector and broadband availability Infographic summarizing section 5.3 – Retail Internet sector and broadband availability
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the retail Internet sector and broadband availability and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows the percentage of retail Internet revenues as a proportion of all retail telecommunications revenues in 2016. Internet: 23%; remaining market sectors: 77%; total telecommunications retail revenues were $44.7 billion.
  2. Revenues: $10.2 billion, an increase of 10.1% from 2015.
  3. Take-up: 84% of Canadian households.
  4. Monthly data usage: 23.4% increase by Canadian high-speed household subscribers.
  5. Broadband availability 50/10 unlimited GB available: 84% of Canadian households.

As mentioned in previous sections, in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496, the Commission established criteria to measure the successful achievement of the universal service objective, which included the availability of a fixed broadband Internet access service with a downstream rate of at least 50 Mbps and an upstream rate of at least 10 Mbps, as well as the availability of an option for unlimited monthly data transfer (usage). As of 31 December 2016, service meeting these criteria was available to 84% of Canadian households. However, the availability varies greatly between urban and rural areas, with only 39% of rural households having access to this kind of service, versus 96% in urban areas. Overall, 11% of Canadians households subscribe to a service meeting these criteria. It is important to note that the Commission’s objective was to have these speeds available to Canadians, although actual subscription is at the discretion of consumer.

While the majority of Canadians do not subscribe to a plan meeting the Commission’s target speeds, Canadians are increasingly subscribing to faster Internet services. Subscriptions to plans including service speeds of 5 to 9 Mbps declined from 41.3% in 2012 to 19.9% in 2016, while subscriptions to plans including service speeds of 50 Mbps and higher went from just 3.6% of residential high-speed subscriptions in 2012 to 26.2% in 2016.

At the same time, Canadians are demanding more bandwidth from broadband service providers. The average monthly amount of data downloaded by residential subscribers increased 25.6% between 2015 and 2016 to 116.9 GB per month, and an average of 42.4% annually over the last five years, indicating that Canadians are likely using more video content and other high-bandwidth-consuming services. Average upload amounts also increased 4.8% in 2016, reaching an average of 11.4 GB per month.

Stimulated by increasing demand for faster Internet services and bandwidth, Internet retail revenues are increasing at an impressive pace. Internet service revenues increased 10.1%, from $9.2 billion in 2015 to $10.2 billion in 2016. 82% of these revenues ($8.3 billion) came from residential sources and 18% ($1.8 billion) came from business sources.

Internet services were provided by a variety of ISPs, consisting of traditional telephone and cable companies, fixed wireless service providers, and resellers. The revenue market share for Internet access for the top five companies (Bell, Rogers, Shaw, TELUS, and Videotron) declined slightly, from 73.2% in 2015 to 73.1% in 2016. The cable-based carriers’ revenue market share declined to 46% in 2016 from 47% in 2015, while the incumbent TSPs’ revenue market share stayed roughly stable at 40%. Residential high-speed Internet service subscriptions provided through wholesale DSL and cable have more than doubled since 2012.

Industry churn ratesFootnote 7 declined slightly in 2016. For residential high-speed Internet access service subscriptions, the rate went down slightly over last year, from 1.80% to 1.74%. For business subscriptions, the rate also went down slightly, from 1.47% to 1.40%.

In the Communications Monitoring Report, services providers are divided in two broad categories: Incumbent TSPs, which are the companies that provided local telecommunications services on a monopoly basis prior to the introduction of competition, and alternative service providers, which encompasses all other entities.

Alternative service providers (or alternative TSPs) include cable-based carriers, which are the former cable monopolies that also provide telecommunications services; other carriers; and resellers, which are defined as those who primarilyFootnote 8 provide services based upon others’ facilities.

In the following section (5.3), the following categories are used, to provide greater salience to cable-based carriers’ Internet services:

  1. Incumbent TSPs, such as Bell Canada, Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), and TELUS . This also includes small incumbent TSPs such as Sogetel inc. and Execulink Telecom Inc.;
  2. Cable-based carriers, such as Rogers, Shaw, and Videotron; and
  3. Other service providers.

The “Other service providers” category maybe be further divided in “other carriers”, such as Xplornet Communications Inc. and Zayo Canada Inc., and “resellers”, such as Distributel Communications Limited, TekSavvy Solutions Inc. and Verizon Canada Ltd.

Cable-based carriers, along with incumbent TSPs, own and operate the greater part of the infrastructure used by other service providers to provide Internet services, and together generate 88% of Internet access services revenue and have 87% of subscriptions in the residential market.

i) Revenues

Table 5.3.1 Retail Internet service revenues ($ millions)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Residential Access 5,369 5,938 6,554 7,224 8,045 11.4 10.6
Applications, equipment, and other Internet-related services 209 160 162 210 289 38.0 8.5
Total 5,577 6,098 6,716 7,434 8,334 12.1 10.6
Business Access and Transport 1,202 1,243 1,320 1,435 1,488 3.7 5.5
Applications, equipment, and other Internet-related services 416 384 378 380 356 -6.3 -3.8
Total 1,619 1,626 1,698 1,815 1,844 1.6 3.3
All Total 7,196 7,725 8,414 9,249 10,178 10.1 9.1

Source: CRTC data collection

This table presents an overview of revenues from residential and business Internet access services, as well as other related services. Applications, equipment, and other Internet-related services include email, web hosting, data centre services, and rentals and sales of modems.

Over the 2012 to 2016 period, residential Internet service revenues increased at a faster average annual rate than business Internet service revenues, i.e. 10.6% versus 3.3%, respectively

The types of Internet services available vary according to the download speed of the Internet connection. The lowest download speed comes with dial-up service, at 64 kilobits per second (Kbps). High-speed services refer to services provided including download speeds greater than 256 Kbps. Broadband service is defined as any service including a 1.5 Mbps or greater download speed. “Business transport” refers to the transfer of Internet traffic between networks. This is generally used by large business customers.

Table 5.3.2 Residential Internet access service revenues by type of service provider ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs 1,891 2,156 2,442 2,760 3,132 13.5 13.5
Cable-based carriers 3,065 3,293 3,477 3,651 3,953 8.3 6.6
Other service providers 412 489 636 814 959 17.8 23.5
Total 5,369 5,938 6,554 7,224 8,045 11.4 10.6
Dial-up (as a percentage of revenues) 0.8 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.1 - -

Source: CRTC data collection

In the table above, service providers are defined as follow:

Incumbent TSPs are the companies that provided internet services on a monopoly basis prior to the introduction of competition via their telephone infrastructure.

Cable-based carriers are the former cable monopolies that also provide telecommunications services via their cable infrastructure.

Other service providers are providers of telecommunications services that are not incumbent TSPs or cable-based carriers as described above. They include fixed wireless service providers, resellers, and facilities-based non incumbent providers.

Table 5.3.3 Business Internet access and transport service revenues, by type of service ($ millions)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Internet access Incumbent TSPs 579 581 591 659 634 -3.8 2.3
Cable-based carriers 273 306 350 421 457 8.6 13.7
Resellers, utility telcos, and other carriers 285 285 307 316 359 13.6 5.9
Total 1,138 1,171 1,248 1,396 1,450 3.9 6.3
Transport Total 65 71 72 39 38 -2.1 -12.6
Total Total 1,202 1,243 1,320 1,435 1,488 3.7 5.5

Source: CRTC data collection

Due to a change in company reporting, transport revenues in 2015 are not comparable to those in previous years. Part of the increase in cable-based carriers’ revenues is due to a reclassification of revenues in 2015. Due to a change in company reporting, 2016 figures for resellers, utility telcos, and other carriers, as well as for incumbent TSPs, may not be comparable to previous years.

Over the 2012 to 2016 period, revenues from the business Internet access and transport service market increased on average 5.5% annually.

ii) Subscriber data

Residential Internet service subscribers receive Internet service from a variety of service providers. In 2016, residential subscribers reached 12.3 million, a 2.4% increase from 2015.

Table 5.3.4 Residential Internet service subscribers, by type of service provider (thousands)
Type of service provider 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs 4,114 4,244 4,429 4,586 4,723 3.0 3.5
Cable-based carriers 5,930 5,933 5,954 5,986 6,030 0.7 0.4
Other service providers 947 1,074 1,247 1,447 1,548 7.0 13.1
Total 10,991 11,251 11,630 12,019 12,301 2.4 2.9
Dial-up (as a percentage of subscribers) 1.7 1.1 0.8 0.7 0.6 n/a n/a

Source: CRTC data collection

Other service providers reported the highest growth rates from 2012 to 2016, although cable-based carriers and incumbent TSPs still dominate the market. Overall, Internet subscription increased, on average, 2.9% annually since 2012. When compared to Statistics Canada’s annual population growth rates, the rate of Internet service subscriber growth was approximately three times that of population growth.

Figure 5.3.1 Residential Internet service subscriber market share by type of service provider (%)

Circular charts of Figure 5.3.1: Residential Internet service subscriber market share, by type of service provider (%). Circular charts of Figure 5.3.1: Residential Internet service subscriber market share, by type of service provider (%).
Text Description of Image

These two circular charts describe the residential Internet service subscriber percentage market share, by type of service provider for 2012 and 2016. Cable was ahead in both years, but has declined in market share as non-cable-based carriers have increased.

Provider type 2012 2016
Incumbent TSPs 37 38
Cable-based carriers 54 49
Other service providers 9 13

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 5.3.5 Business Internet access subscriptions by type of service provider (thousands)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Dial-up Total 61 54 47 43 34 -21.1 -13.8
High-Speed Incumbent TSPs 463 487 504 538 520 -3.3 3.0
Cable-based carriers 268 310 347 453 475 4.8 15.4
Resellers, utility telcos, and other carriers 150 170 179 185 159 -13.9 1.5
Total 881 966 1,030 1,176 1,154 -1.8 7.0

Source: CRTC data collection

Due to a change in company reporting in 2015 for cable-based carriers and in 2016 for Resellers, utility telcos, and other carriers, subscriptions may not be comparable to previous years.

As shown in figure 5.3.2, take-up of unlimited Internet packages increased from 12% to 23% from 2012 to 2016. However, for resale-based independent ISPs, subscribers with unlimited bandwidth packages represent approximately 55% of their subscriptions, while 75% have plans that include 300GB per month or more.

In 2016, it is estimated that Canadian households paid around $100 million in Internet overage charges, which accounts for around 1% of total residential Internet service revenues. Residential subscriptions that went over their limits on an average month are estimated at under 5%.

Canadian businesses paid around $2.5 million in Internet overage charges, with only around 1% of subscriptions going over their monthly limits on an average month.

Figure 5.3.2 High-speed residential Internet service subscribers, by transfer (upload/download) capacity (GB) included in subscriptions

Column chart of Figure 5.3.2: High-speed residential Internet service subscribers, by GB data transfer (upload/download) capacity included in subscriptions Column chart of Figure 5.3.2: High-speed residential Internet service subscribers, by GB data transfer (upload/download) capacity included in subscriptions
Text Description of Image

This column chartdescribes the number of gigabytes per month downloadable by residential subscribers versus the percentage of residential subscribers subscribing to plans with at least these limits for the years 2012 to 2016 except for 300 gigabytes or more, which is only reported starting in 2013.The percentage with plans at or exceeding each gigabyte plan size level are as follows:

Capacity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
20+ 88 93 94 97 98
60+ 75 75 78 84 84
100+ 45 50 58 69 76
160+ 26 23 29 39 51
300+ - 15 17 25 39
Unlimited 12 12 14 18 23

Source: CRTC data collection

Data for the 300 GB and higher category was not collected in 2012. Plans with unlimited upload were categorized according to their download limit.

In 2016, while most subscribers (51%) had transfer limits of 160GB or more, approximately 2% of subscribers had transfer limits below 20GB.

Data for tables 5.3.6, 5.3.8, 5.3.9, 5.3.10, 5.3.11, and 5.3.12, and for figure 5.3.2, are from the larger ISPs, which reported providing approximately 89% of total residential high-speed subscriptions in 2016.

Table 5.3.6 Weighted-average upload and download usage (GBs) of residential high-speed Internet subscribers
Usage 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Download 28.4 44.8 66.5 93.0 116.9 25.6 42.4
Upload 5.4 6.0 8.6 10.9 11.4 4.8 20.6
Total 33.8 50.8 75.1 104.0 128.3 23.4 39.6

Source: CRTC data collection

Downloads still account for the vast majority of Internet usage, reaching an average of 116.9GB per month per subscriber in 2016, a 25.6% increase over 2015 levels.

iii) Performance indicators

In general, the average revenue per user (ARPU) for high-speed Internet services has been increasing since 2008.Footnote 9 While some packages have experienced price declines, these declines have been offset by movement towards larger, faster packages.

Not only are Canadians choosing to subscribe to faster Internet services, they are also choosing packages with more capacity. From 2012 to 2016, the amount of GB downloadable in the average package increased every year except 2013.

As shown in table 5.3.7, from 2012 to 2016, resellers consistently reported the lowest ARPU, while the highest ARPU have been attributed to the Other facilities-based TSPs category, which consists mainly of fixed wireless and satellite-based service providers.

As shown in table 5.3.10, the weighted average download and upload speeds are approaching the 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speed set out in the universal service objective. However, only 23% of subscriptions currently meet or exceed these speeds, while 79% of subscriptions exceed 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

Table 5.3.7 Residential Internet access service average revenue per user per month (ARPU), ($)
Type of TSP 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Incumbent TSPs 38.77 43.00 46.92 51.02 56.08 9.9 9.7
Cable-based carriers 43.39 46.27 48.75 50.96 54.83 7.6 6.0
Other facilities-based service providers 49.34 48.29 54.21 62.73 66.26 5.6 7.7
Resellers 33.20 35.66 40.83 43.17 45.59 5.6 8.3
Total 41.31 44.50 47.74 50.91 55.13 8.3 7.5

Source: CRTC data collection

ARPU in the table above may vary from table 5.3.8 below, which uses data from only the larger providers, who comprise 89% of all high-speed subscriptions. ARPU is calculated based on year-end data, not data from throughout the year. This table also contains data from dial-up services.

Table 5.3.8 Residential Internet service one-month average revenue, by advertised download speed ($)
Advertised download speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wideband 300 to 1400 Kbps 35.83 35.49 33.80 38.02 43.83 15.3 5.2
1.5 to 4 Mbps 41.87 31.45 48.05 52.11 22.63 -56.6 -14.3
5 to 9 Mbps 44.05 46.10 46.87 48.37 53.00 9.6 4.7
10 to 15 Mbps 40.62 48.17 48.52 53.59 57.43 7.2 9.0
16 to 49 Mbps 44.85 58.69 51.96 55.35 62.29 12.5 8.6
50 Mbps and higher 59.69 66.05 60.90 60.44 64.78 7.2 2.1
All tiers 43.80 49.64 50.06 54.00 59.67 10.5 8.0

Source: CRTC data collection

The one-month average revenue by download speed was calculated by dividing the service providers’ total one-month revenue in each speed tier by the total number of subscribers to the service in each speed tier in that month. The month used was December or the closest month for which information was available.

Table 5.3.9 Weighted-average upload/download limits (GBs) of residential Internet service plans, by advertised download speed
Advertised download speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wideband 300 to 1400 Kbps 17.89 25.42 27.25 31.23 40.23 28.8 22.5
1.5 to 4 Mbps 94.93 68.22 52.20 63.24 69.57 10.0 -7.5
5 to 9 Mbps 76.78 48.46 53.36 62.55 63.29 1.2 -4.7
10 to 15 Mbps 106.74 99.84 101.79 110.68 123.52 11.6 3.7
16 to 49 Mbps 131.50 142.14 159.15 188.50 196.31 4.1 10.5
50 Mbps and higher 364.80 362.86 283.10 286.34 449.58 57.0 5.4
All tiers 103.48 99.24 118.27 141.94 181.68 28.0 15.1

Source: CRTC data collection

The weighted-average upload/download limit was calculated for each downstream speed tier based on the number of subscribers to plans with upload/download limits.

Table 5.3.10 Residential Internet service upload speed (Kbps) by advertised download speed and average advertised download speed
Advertised download speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wideband 300 to 1400 Kbps 313 291 283 279 293 4.9 -1.6
1.5 to 4 Mbps 651 768 746 757 764 0.9 4.1
5 to 9 Mbps 1,118 809 937 969 909 -6.2 -5.0
10 to 15 Mbps 2,519 2,407 2,225 2,414 2,631 9.0 1.1
16 to 49 Mbps 2,912 4,133 4,676 6,159 7,107 15.4 25.0
50 Mbps and higher 13,199 19,890 13,701 15,015 22,531 50.1 14.3
Weighted average upload speed for all tiers 2,009 3,031 3,676 5,528 8,722 57.8 44.3
Weighted-average download speed for all tiers 12,610 15,465 21,242 29,150 42,027 44.2 35.1

Source: CRTC data collection

The weighted-average upload speed was calculated for each advertised download speed tier based on the number of subscribers to the plan. The weighted-average download speed was calculated based on the number of subscribers to each plan.

iv) Price

The price structure of Internet services is based on download and upload speed as well as bandwidth or monthly transfer limits.

Consistent with previous years, urban households generally had access to lower Internet service prices and had a greater number of Internet service providers (ISPs) to choose from than rural households.

In 2016, service providers were asked to report the price of services meeting the new service objective target, the former objective target as well as an intermediate service:

The analysis below consists of information from 28 service providers.

Urban centres

Figure 5.3.3 Price of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.3: Price of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.3: Price of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 5 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload service in urban centres in 2016, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Urban centre and number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
Vancouver (7) 25 55 80
Victoria (7) 25 55 80
Calgary (7) 25 55 80
Edmonton (7) 25 55 80
Saskatoon (4) 25 48 73
Regina (3) 42 11 53
Winnipeg (5) 25 48 73
Toronto (11) 25 45 70
Ottawa-Gatineau (12) 25 45 70
Hamilton (12) 27 43 70
London (11) 25 45 70
Kitchener-Waterloo (11) 25 45 70
St Catharines - Niagara (11) 27 43 70
Windsor (10) 27 34 61
Oshawa (11) 25 45 70
Montréal (9) 28 27 55
Québec (10) 27 28 55
Fredericton (2) 33 56 89
Halifax (2) 86 3 89
Charlottetown (2) 86 3 89
St. John's (2) 33 56 89
Whitehorse (1) 63 0 63
Yellowknife (1) 63 0 63
Iqaluit (1) 70 0 70

Source: CRTC data collection

This bar chart displays the range in the monthly prices of 5/1 Mbps Internet service in 24 urban centres in Canada. The number at the end of each bar is the highest price. The number in parentheses along the vertical axis after the name of each urban centre represents the number of ISPs in that urban centre.

With the exception of Iqaluit, satellite services are excluded, but are available in all areas.

While Iqaluit has no 5/1 Mbps fixed broadband service option, 5 Mbps/512kbps service is available at $179.95 per month at the time of writing.Footnote 10

The price of 5/1 Mbps Internet service varies from lows of between $25 and $86 per month to highs of between $53 and $89 per month.

The lowest cost 5/1 Mbps service option is provided with unlimited data transfer by at least one provider, and often two or three, in most urban centres outside the territories. Reported service options with data transfer limits include 25 to 300 GB per month.

Figure 5.3.4 Price of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps, 100 GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.4: Price of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps 100 GB per month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016. Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.4: Price of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps 100 GB per month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload service with at least 100 GB per month transfer limit in urban centres in 2016, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Urban centre and number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
Vancouver (6) 40 53 93
Victoria (6) 40 53 93
Calgary (6) 40 53 93
Edmonton (6) 40 53 93
Saskatoon (4) 40 53 93
Regina (3) 62 28 90
Winnipeg (4) 40 53 93
Toronto (10) 28 47 75
Ottawa-Gatineau (11) 40 35 75
Hamilton (11) 40 35 75
London (10) 40 35 75
Kitchener-Waterloo (10) 40 35 75
St Catharines - Niagara (11) 40 40 80
Windsor (9) 40 29 69
Oshawa (10) 40 35 75
Montréal (8) 40 28 68
Québec (9) 39 29 68
Fredericton (2) 63 26 89
Halifax (2) 86 3 89
Charlottetown (2) 86 3 89
St. John's (2) 63 26 89
Whitehorse (1) 140 0 140
Yellowknife (1) 140 0 140
Iqaluit (0) 0 0 0

Source: CRTC data collection

The lowest cost 25/3 Mbps service option tends to include at least 125 GB per month, while in some areas up to 450 GB are included with the service. A service with unlimited transfer was provided by at least one provider in all non-territorial areas, and oftentimes by two or three providers.

Figure 5.3.5 Price of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps, unlimited GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.5: Price of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps unlimited) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016. Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.5: Price of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps unlimited) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban centres, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 50 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload service with no monthly transfer limit in urban centres in 2016, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Urban centre and number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
Vancouver (6) 50 85 135
Victoria (6) 50 85 135
Calgary (6) 50 85 135
Edmonton (6) 50 85 135
Saskatoon (4) 50 85 135
Regina (2) 80 8 88
Winnipeg (4) 50 85 135
Toronto (10) 52 33 85
Ottawa-Gatineau (10) 52 41 93
Hamilton (10) 52 33 85
London (9) 52 33 85
Kitchener-Waterloo (9) 52 33 85
St Catharines - Niagara (9) 52 33 85
Windsor (8) 55 30 85
Oshawa (9) 52 33 85
Montréal (8) 50 30 80
Québec (8) 50 30 80
Fredericton (2) 73 16 89
Halifax (2) 86 3 89
Charlottetown (2) 86 3 89
St. John's (2) 83 6 89
Whitehorse (0) 0 0 0
Yellowknife (0) 0 0 0
Iqaluit (0) 0 0 0

Source: CRTC data collection

As shown in the above figure, services including unlimited transfer, 50 Mbps download, and 10 Mbps upload are available in all non-territorial urban centres.

Rural communities

As displayed below, Internet service prices are generally higher in rural communities than in urban centres.

Internet service subscribers living in rural communities generally have fewer service providers to choose from than subscribers living in urban centres. Of all the rural areas examined, the median number of available providers was 3, with an average of 3.7. The median for urban areas was 7, with an average of 6.6.

Figure 5.3.6 Price comparison of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.6: Price comparison of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016. Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.6: Price comparison of residential broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 5 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload service in urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Areas and minimum and maximum number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
B.C. rural (5/6) 30 50 80
B.C. urban (7/7) 25 55 80
Alta. rural (2/7) 30 50 80
Alta. urban (7/7) 25 55 80
Sask. rural (2/3) 53 32 85
Sask. urban (3/4) 25 48 73
Man. rural (2/3) 60 5 65
Man. urban (5) 25 48 73
Ont. rural (3/6) 25 50 75
Ont. urban (10/12) 25 45 70
Que. rural (3/7) 27 43 70
Que. urban (9/10) 27 28 55
N.B. rural (3/3) 33 55 88
N.B. urban (2) 33 56 89
P.E.I. rural (3/3) 65 23 88
P.E.I. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.S. rural (1/2) 75 13 88
N.S. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.L. rural (2/3) 75 13 88
N.L. urban (2) 33 56 89
Y.T. rural (2/2) 75 9 84
Y.T. urban (1) 63 0 63
N.W.T. rural (2/2) 75 36 111
N.W.T. urban (1) 63 0 63
Nvt. rural (1/1) 75 0 75
Nvt. urban (1) 70 0 70

Source: CRTC data collection

This bar chart displays the range in the monthly price of broadband (5/1 Mbps) Internet access service in rural and urban communities in Canada. The number at the end of each bar is the highest price. The number in parentheses along the vertical axis after the name of each province and territory represents the range in the number of service providers among the rural communities or urban centres. For example, “BC rural (5/6)” means that the number of service providers among the rural communities in British Columbia included in the survey varied between 5 and 6.

Except in Iqaluit, satellite services are excluded in urban areas.

Figure 5.3.7 Price comparison of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps, 100 GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.7: Price comparison of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps, 100 GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016. Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.7: Price comparison of residential broadband (25/3 Mbps, 100 GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload service with at least 100 GB per month transfer limit in urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Areas and minimum and maximum number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
B.C. rural (3/4) 40 40 80
B.C. urban (6/6) 40 100 140
Alta. rural (0/4) 45 35 80
Alta. urban (6/6) 40 53 93
Sask. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Sask. urban (3/4) 40 53 93
Man. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Man. urban (4) 40 53 93
Ont. rural (1/4) 44 36 80
Ont. urban (9/11) 28 52 80
Que. rural (1/4) 44 36 80
Que. urban (8/9) 39 29 68
N.B. rural (1/2) 63 17 80
N.B. urban (2) 63 26 89
P.E.I. rural (1/1) 86 0 86
P.E.I. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.S. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
N.S. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.L. rural (0/1) 86 0 86
N.L. urban (2) 63 26 89
Y.T. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Y.T. urban (1) 140 0 140
N.W.T. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
N.W.T. urban (1) 140 0 140
Nvt. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Nvt. urban (0) 0 0 0

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.3.8 Price comparison of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps, unlimited GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.8: Price comparison of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps, unlimited GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016. Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.8: Price comparison of residential broadband (50/10 Mbps, unlimited GB/month) Internet access service and number of companies providing this service in urban and rural communities, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for 50 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload service with no per month transfer limit in urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Areas and minimum and maximum number of providers Minimum Variance between highest and lowest price Maximum
B.C. rural (2/3) 60 28 88
B.C. urban (6/6) 50 85 135
Alta. rural (0/3) 60 28 88
Alta. urban (6/6) 50 85 135
Sask. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Sask. urban (2/4) 50 85 135
Man. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Man. urban (4) 50 85 135
Ont. rural (1/4) 60 30 90
Ont. urban (8/10) 52 41 93
Que. rural (1/4) 64 29 93
Que. urban (8/8) 50 30 80
N.B. rural (1/1) 73 0 73
N.B. urban (2) 73 16 89
P.E.I. rural (1/1) 86 0 86
P.E.I. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.S. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
N.S. urban (2) 86 3 89
N.L. rural (0/1) 86 0 86
N.L. urban (2) 83 6 89
Y.T. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Y.T. urban (0) 0 0 0
N.W.T. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
N.W.T. urban (0) 0 0 0
Nvt. rural (0/0) 0 0 0
Nvt. urban (0) 0 0 0

Source: CRTC data collection

Service offerings were reported in all rural communities for 5/1 Mbps, and in 61% of communities for 25/3 Mbps and 50/10 Mbps.

In addition to higher prices, service offerings in rural communities tend to have lower monthly transfer limits than in urban areas.

Unlimited transfer is included in the cheapest service offering in around 85% of rural areas at 5/1 Mbps, and in 44% of these areas at 25/3 Mbps.

Which rural communities were included?

54 rural communities were selected to assess the price of Internet access services (see Appendix 9). These communities met the following criteria:

  • the community was not part of one of the census metropolitan areas of the 24 urban centres;
  • the community had a population density of fewer than 400 people per square kilometre, or its population centre had fewer than 1,000 people;
  • the number of communities selected in each province/territory was proportional to the population of the province/territory; and
  • the communities were not clustered together.

v) Consumer trends

In 2012, 41.6% of ISPs’ high-speed residential Internet access service revenues were generated from plans with download speeds of between 5 and 9 Mbps. Plans with lower speeds yielded 20.1% of the revenues, while plans with higher speeds generated 38.4%.

Four years later, 5 to 9 Mbps plans no longer yield the highest percentage of revenues, the revenues from these plans having declined to 17.7%, while revenues from lower-speed plans declined to under 3%, and revenues from higher-speed plans increased to 79.8%.

Table 5.3.11 Residential Internet service one-month revenue distribution (%), by advertised download speed
Advertised download speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Wideband 300 to 1400 Kbps 2.4 2.1 1.3 0.7 0.5
1.5 to 4 Mbps 17.4 4.6 3.6 2.8 1.9
5 to 9 Mbps 41.6 30.5 25.2 21.0 17.7
10 to 15 Mbps 9.3 24.8 24.8 23.9 21.6
16 to 49 Mbps 24.1 31.1 33.1 30.2 29.8
50 Mbps and higher 5 6.7 11.9 21.5 28.4
Total revenues in sample ($M) 427.6 494.9 517.8 570.1 646.1

Source: CRTC data collection

Data excludes terminal rental revenues. Services are listed without regard to upload speeds. 24.1% of high-speed service revenues stem from services that meet the Commission’s target speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload, compared to 28.4% of revenues from services including at least 50 Mbps download and any upload speed. 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload plans with unlimited monthly transfer made up only 14.1% of revenues.

In 2016, Canadians continued to subscribe to higher-speed Internet access services. In 2012, the most common plans included download speeds of 5 to 9 Mbps, representing 41.3% of all subscriptions. Plans with lower speeds made up 21.4% of all subscriptions, and plans with higher speeds represented 37.2% of subscriptions. Four years later, the 5 to 9 Mbps plans are no longer the most popular plans. The percentage of subscribers to these plans declined to 19.9%. In 2016, the percentage of subscribers to plans including speeds less than 5 Mbps declined to 1.4% while the percentage of subscribers to plans including speeds greater than 9 Mbps grew to 77.2%.

Table 5.3.12 Residential Internet service one-month subscriber distribution (%), by advertised download speed
Advertised download speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Wideband 300 to 1400 Kbps 2.9 2.7 1.9 1.0 0.7
1.5 to 4 Mbps 18.2 7.3 3.7 2.9 2.1
5 to 9 Mbps 41.3 32.8 26.9 23.4 19.9
10 to 15 Mbps 10.1 25.6 25.6 24.1 22.4
16 to 24 Mbps - - 4.5 1.3 0.8
25 to 29 Mbps - - 17.4 15.8 14.5
30 to 49 Mbps - - 9.9 12.3 13.2
16 to 49 Mbps total 23.5 26.3 31.9 29.4 28.6
50 to 99 Mbps - - - 7.2 10.4
100 Mbps and higher - - - 8.0 15.8
50 Mbps and higher total 3.6 5 9.8 19.2 26.2
Total subscriptions in sample 9,761.1 9,970.1 10,345.1 10,558.7 10,827.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table indicates that, over time, faster-speed services make up more subscriptions. 83.9% of Canadian households subscribe to some form of high-speed Internet service.

22.9% of high-speed Internet service subscribers subscribe to a service that meets the Commission’s target speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload, compared to 26.2% who subscribe to a service with at least 50 Mbps download and any upload speed, while 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload plans with unlimited monthly transfer made up 13.7% of total subscriptions.

vi) Competitive landscape

Canadians can access broadband Internet services using either wireline or wireless facilities. These facilities support evolving services, which make new experiences possible for Canadians, ranging from television and radio services, to new and highly interactive services and programs offering greater consumer control and choice. Consumers can engage with the digital world using their wireless devices at the time and place of their choice.

Figure 5.3.9 Residential broadband subscriptions ‒ Incumbent TSPs vs. cable-based carriers (millions)

Line chart of Figure 5.3.9: Residential broadband subscriptions – Incumbent TSPs vs. cable-based carriers (millions). Line chart of Figure 5.3.9: Residential broadband subscriptions – Incumbent TSPs vs. cable-based carriers (millions).
Text Description of Image

This two line chart describes, for the years 2012 to 2016, the number of residential broadband subscriptions (in millions) for incumbent TSPs and cable-based carriers.

Provider type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incumbent TSP broadband 3.9 4.1 4.3 4.5 4.7
Cable-based carrier broadband 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.9 6.0

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.3.10 Internet access service revenue shares, by market and type of service provider, 2016 (%)

Circular charts of Figure 5.3.10: Internet access service revenue shares, by market and by type of service provider, 2016 (%). Circular charts of Figure 5.3.10: Internet access service revenue shares, by market and by type of service provider, 2016 (%).
Text Description of Image

These two circular charts describe the percentage revenue market share of various industry participant groups for residential and business Internet access markets.

Provider type Residential Business
Incumbent TSPs 39 44
Cable-based carriers 49 32
Remaining alternative service providers 12 25

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.3.11 Business Internet access service revenues by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%)

Circular charts of Figure 5.3.11: Business Internet access service revenues by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%). Circular charts of Figure 5.3.11: Business Internet access service revenues by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%).
Text Description of Image

These two circular charts describe the percentage of business access revenue by technology for 2012 and 2016.

Technology 2012 2016
Dial-up 2 1
DSL 40 40
Cable 21 25
Fibre 28 28
Other 9 6

Source: CRTC data collection

Business Internet access service revenue is derived from services provided using a variety of access technologies. The “Other” segment refers to other technologies, such as fixed wireless and satellite technologies.

Figure 5.3.12 Residential Internet access service subscriptions by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%)

Circular charts of Figure 5.3.12: Residential Internet access service subscriptions by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%). Circular charts of Figure 5.3.12: Residential Internet access service subscriptions by access technology, 2012 vs. 2016 (%).
Text Description of Image

These two circular charts describe the percentage of residential subscriptions by technology for 2012 and 2016. Fibre has had the largest change in share of the market, while all other technologies except fixed wireless and satellite have declined.

Technology 2012 2016
DSL 38 32
Cable 56 54
Dial-up 2 1
Fibre 1 10
Fixed wireless and satellite 3 4

Source: CRTC data collection

What are fixed wireless and satellite services?

“Fixed wireless services” refers to the use of radio spectrum to provide communications services to subscribers. The connection to the subscriber’s premises is from a tower located in the area.

Satellites can provide Internet access service.Footnote 11 Connections are established between an earth station on the ground (using equipment such as satellite dishes) and a satellite in space. Satellites can support various frequency bands (C-band, Ku-band, and Ka-band).

Satellite Internet services delivered using the C-band require a large satellite dish and are typically used to serve a community. Ka-band and, to a lesser degree, Ku-band, satellite Internet services can be offered using a small satellite dish located at the customer’s premises.

vii) Capacity requirements

This section examines the capacity requirements of various streaming services. These services are a major component driving the demand for larger, faster broadband packages.

Bit rate

The bit rate of a stream is, essentially, the number of bits transmitted in a particular time period. The standard measurement for bit rate of streaming services, like Internet access packages, is in a multiple of bits per second. Here, we use megabits per second (Mbps), which is one million bits (or 125,000 bytes) per second. The measurements presented in this section show sample average bit rates of various streaming services. The measurements were performed in the CRTC’s Technology Resource Centre using off-the-shelf consumer electronics. For more information on the testing environment and methodology, see Appendix 10.

Since many streaming services use similar bit rates, they have been split into seven ranges. Table 5.3.13 lists the ranges, their average bit rate, a description, and examples of streaming services in each range. Some streaming services are in multiple ranges because their bit rate is automatically adjusted based on connection type (i.e. mobile or wireline) and speed. A stream’s bandwidth can be adjusted by changing its compression level or codec; this compression level affects the bandwidth and thus the number of simultaneous streams that an Internet connection can handle. For more information on these topics, see Appendix 10.

Where services do offer multiple quality options, they have been itemized separately in the table. Some services use qualitative names for their settings (e.g. good, better, best), while others use the resolution and video frame rate. For example, “144p” means 144 lines of vertical resolution, progressive scan.Footnote 12 “2160p60” means 2160 lines of vertical resolution (marketed as “4K”), at 60 frames per second.Footnote 13 The term “Ultra-high-definition (UHD)” encompasses resolutions greater than 1440p, specifically 2160p and 4320p (also known as “4K” and “8K,” respectively); this is in contrast with the current High Definition (HD) standard, which includes 720p, 1080p, and 1440p.

Due to the limited number of samples and the diversity of network configuration and equipment, the reported values in this section should be viewed as average-case estimates, not worst-case limits. It is important for consumers with data-limited Internet plans to monitor their usage using tools provided by the service provider. Some operating systems also include – or offer for download – usage measurement utilities, which can be used to estimate the provider’s data usage calculation.

Table 5.3.13 List of ranges for data usage measurement calculations
Average Download Bit Rate Description Examples of Services and Quality Settings Average data usage (GB) per hour of steaming
0.0 – 0.5 Mbps

Streaming audio, mobile-quality streaming video, voice and SD video calling

Streaming radio, Twitch 160p, Skype audio and SD video calling

0.1 GB/h
0.5 – 2.0 Mbps

Standard-definition streaming video, HD video calling

CBC TV 360p/540p, Skype high-quality/HD video calling, Netflix low/medium, TED, Global GO, Twitch 360p/480p/720p/1080p, YouTube 360p

0.6 GB/h
2.0 – 3.5 Mbps

Low bit rate HD streaming video

CBC TV 720p/1080p, CTV GO, Crackle, YouTube 720p/1080p, Twitch 720p60

1.2 GB/h
3.5 – 5.0 Mbps

High bit rate HD streaming video

Netflix high, Twitch 1080p60, YouTube 720p60/1440pFootnote 14

1.8 GB/h
5.0 – 10.0 Mbps

Very high bit rate HD streaming video

CraveTV, YouTube 1080p60, Netflix HD

3.0 GB/h
10.0 – 20.0 Mbps

UHD streaming video

Netflix UHD, YouTube 1440p60/2160p

7.4 GB/h
20.0 – 50.0 Mbps

High frame rate UHD streaming video

Netflix UHD (some titles), YouTube 2160p60

11.3 GB/h

Source: CRTC Broadband measurement

Figure 5.3.13 shows the approximate amount of data used per hour of streaming for each bit rate range listed in Table 5.3.13. These numbers measure the stream without any auxiliary content (e.g. previews, menus, trailers, advertisements), so the actual amount of data used may be greater than these estimates.

As an example, a 30-minute Skype HD video call would use, on average, approximately 0.3GB.

Figure 5.3.13 Data usage (GB) per hour of streaming, per bit rate range

Bar chart of Figure 5.3.13: Data usage (GB) per hour of streaming, per bit rate range. Bar chart of Figure 5.3.13: Data usage (GB) per hour of streaming, per bit rate range.
Text Description of Image

This bar chart illustrates the average total data usage in gigabytes per hour of streaming, itemized by average bandwidth usage category. Download and upload amounts are combined.

Bit rate range GB/h (Average) Error bar minimum Error bar maximum
0.0 – 0.5 Mbps 0.1 0.0 0.2
0.5 – 2.0 Mbps 0.6 0.2 0.9
2.0 – 3.5 Mbps 1.2 0.9 1.6
3.5 – 5.0 Mbps 1.8 1.6 2.3
5.0 – 10.0 Mbps 3.0 2.3 4.5
10.0 – 20.0 Mbps 7.4 4.5 9.0
20.0 – 50.0 Mbps 11.3 9.0 22.5

Source: CRTC Broadband measurement

Streaming on mobile devices

With the proliferation of LTE data networks, consumers are now able to reliably use streaming and real-time communications applications on their mobile devices. Not only do LTE networks have much higher bandwidth, but they have consistent latencyFootnote 15 regardless of signal strength.

While some streaming services allow the user to choose a quality setting, many automatically reduce the quality if they detect that the destination device is on a mobile network. This automatic adjustment ensures that users don’t prematurely exhaust their data allowance by streaming high-bandwidth content. Many video streaming services also prompt the user for confirmation that they wish to use their mobile data, rather than connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

Many applications will reduce video quality on mobile devices regardless of the type of network they’re connected to. Since mobile devices generally have smaller screens than televisions, bit rates above a certain threshold offer negligible quality increases for an often-significant increase in data usage. Therefore, a video streaming service’s HD option may have a different bit rate on a mobile device than on a computer or a set-top streaming device.

viii) Key indicators

Broadband service availability is calculated using information provided by ISPs. In 2012 to 2015 data, locations are considered to be serviced if their dissemination block representative point falls within broadband service coverage. As of 2016, ISED pseudohouseholds are used, along with 2016 census demography. Broadband service availability data may not take into account capacity issues or issues regarding line of sight.Footnote 16

What are pseudohouseholds?

Pseudohouseholds are points representing the population in an area. These points are placed along roadways within each area, and the population of the area, determined by Statistics Canada, is distributed amongst these points. Additional data regarding addresses and the position of dwellings is used to guide this distribution. The use of pseudohouseholds aims to improve the accuracy of the availability indicators over the use of the assumption that the population within an area is located at the center of the area.

Table 5.3.14 Key telecommunications availability indicators (% of households)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Mobile broadband 3G/3G equivalent 99 99 99 99 99
HSPA+ 99 99 99 99 99
LTE 72 81 93 97 98
Wireline broadband DSL 87 82 82 82 77
Cable modem 82 82 82 82 85
Fibre - 14 20 22 28
Wireline and fixed wireless Total 97 97 97 98 98
Universal service objective 50 Mbps download 10 Mbps upload unlimited option - - - - 84
BDU services IPTV 45 56 65 70 75
Digital satellite National National National National National

Source: CRTC data collection

Not all broadband technologies are available in all parts of the country. This table lists the various types of mobile and wireline broadband technologies, such as long-term evolution (LTE), as well as IPTV and digital satellite technologies, and shows the percentage of households nationally that were able to access such technologies from 2012 to 2016. The declines in the availability of DSL in 2013 and 2016 were due to the deployment of fibre technology, with improvements in company reporting also contributing. Fibre availability is not reported for 2012. The increase in cable availability is mainly attributable to the change to the pseudohousehold methodology.

The vast majority of areas that have 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds also have unlimited monthly transfer options.

HSPA/HSPA+: High-speed packet access (HSPA) is a protocol or standard used for communications between a mobile phone and cellular towers in mobile networks. HSPA is also referred to as 3G (third generation) cellular. HSPA+, or evolved HSPA, is a form of HSPA that uses technical measures to provide faster transmission speeds.

Figure 5.3.14 Broadband service availability vs. subscriptions by province/territory, 2016

Stacked horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.10: Broadband availability vs. subscriptions by province/territory, 2016. Stacked horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.3.10: Broadband availability vs. subscriptions by province/territory, 2016.
Text Description of Image

This stacked horizontal bar chart describes, for the provinces of Canada, the availability of broadband via fixed technology, with a stacked element for the additional coverage provided by HSPA+ mobile technology. In addition, it shows the subscriber take-up percentage of broadband subscriptions per province via fixed technology.

Province Fixed broadband availability HSPA+ Fixed broadband subscriptions
B.C. 98 1 88
Alta. 99.7 0 87
Sask. 93 7 76
Man. 98 1 79
Ont. 99 1 84
Que. 98 1 80
N.B. 98 2 86
N.S. 99.9 0 79
P.E.I. 96 4 83
N.L. 89 9 84
North 95 2 74
Canada 98 1 83

Sources: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and CRTC data collection

The availability and take-up rates of broadband services vary from province to province. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have arrangements to provide broadband services via satellite under terms and conditions similar to those for wireline services. In Prince Edward Island, HSPA+ is available to households without access to other means of broadband services under terms and conditions equivalent to those for wireline services. The fixed broadband availability data exclude satellite broadband services, but these services are included in the fixed broadband subscriptions data. The HSPA+ bar shows the effect that inclusion of HSPA+ technology would have on broadband availability.

Figure 5.3.15 Broadband service, 5 Mbps availability (% of households)

Horizontal column chart of Figure 5.3.15: Broadband service, 5 Mbps availability (% of households). Horizontal column chart of Figure 5.3.15: Broadband service, 5 Mbps availability (% of households).
Text Description of Image

This horizontal column chart describes, for 2014, 2015 and 2016, the availability of 5 Mbps broadband via various access means.

Technology 2014 2015 2016
DSL 79 78 75
Cable modem 81 81 85
Fibre 20 22 28
Wired Total 89 89 92
Wired and fixed wireless total 94 96 97
Mobile 93 97 98
All technologies 96 99 99

Source: CRTC data collection

A broadband download speed of at least 5 Mbps is available to 99.3% of Canadian households through a variety of platforms. This bar graph shows the availability rates of broadband service access through DSL, cable modem, fixed wireless, fibre, and mobile technologies, as well as the availability rate of all technologies at this speed. Satellite service is excluded.

ix) Broadband service availability

As mentioned in previous sections, in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496, the Commission established criteria to measure the successful achievement of the universal service objective, which included the availability of a fixed broadband Internet access service with a downstream rate of at least 50 Mbps and an upstream rate of at least 10 Mbps, as well as the availability of an option for unlimited monthly data transfer (usage). As of 31 December 2016, service meeting these criteria was available to 84% of Canadian households. However, the availability varies greatly between urban and rural areas, with only 39% of rural households having access to this kind of service, versus 96% in urban areas. Overall, 11% of Canadians households subscribe to a service meeting these criteria. It is important to note that the Commission’s objective was to have these speeds available to Canadians while subscription is at the discretion of the consumers.

Approximately 99% of Canadian households can access a download speed of at least 5 Mbps, which is sufficient for streaming high quality audio and video content. The vast majority of Canadians (97%) can access this speed using either landline or fixed wireless facilities, and an additional 1.5% may get access via satellite facilities. Eighty-one percent of Canadian households subscribe to services with download speeds of 5 Mbps or higher. When taking into account an upload speed of 1 Mbps, availability of 5 Mbps or higher Internet services declines to 97%Footnote 17 (95% excluding satellite), with 67% of Canadian households subscribing to a service meeting these speeds.

Fixed wireless services are a major source of broadband Internet connectivity in rural areas, since 31% of rural households have access to broadband Internet via fixed wireless services, but not fibre, cable, or DSL. While satellite coverage is nationwide, capacity limitations restrict practical broadband Internet service availability to approximately 1.5% of all Canadian households. Additional coverage is available via LTE and HSPA+ networks, although data allowances may differ from satellite and wireline broadband. For more information on the wireless sector, see section 5.5.

Unless otherwise noted, broadband Internet service availability figures exclude wireless mobile technology. Satellite access services in this section refer to direct-to-home satellite, and not to the technology used to connect communities to the Internet.

Figure 5.3.16 Broadband service availability by speed (% of households)

Column chart of Figure 5.3.16: Broadband availability by speed (% of households) Column chart of Figure 5.3.16: Broadband availability by speed (% of households)
Text Description of Image

This column chart describes the availability of broadband by various download speeds, in Mbps for 2012 to 2016. The 100 Mbps and above category has made the most improvement over time.

Speed 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
1.5 - 4.9 97 97 97 98 98
5 - 9.9 91 94 94 96 97
10 - 15.9 84 84 85 92 95
16 - 24.9 82 82 84 89 91
25 - 29.9 80 81 82 88 91
30 - 49.9 79 80 81 83 86
50 - 99.9 77 78 79 82 86
100 + 35 60 71 75 83

Sources: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and CRTC data collection

The availability of broadband services at higher speeds has been expanding in Canada. This graph excludes broadband services provided through satellite and mobile technologies.

Increases in speed categories at and above 50 Mbps in 2015 are in part due to the consideration of the effects of line bonding (using more than one line to provide service) on DSL.

Increases in broadband service availability by speed categories in 2016 are partly due to the higher accuracy of the pseudohousehold methodology. The increase in availability due to migration to the pseudohousehold methodology is as follows (in percentage points): 0.7 for 1.5 to 4.9 Mbps, 1.0 for 5 to 9.9 Mbps, 1.4 for 10 to 15 Mbps, 1.7 for 16 to 24.9 Mbps, 1.8 for 25 to 29.9 Mbps, 2.7 for 30 to 49.9 Mbps, 2.9 for 50 to 99.9 Mbps, and 3.6 for 100+ Mbps.

Table 5.3.15 Broadband service availability in rural areas, by download speed and number of platforms (% of households), 2016
Number of wireline platforms 1.5 Mbps and higher 5.0 Mbps and higher 10.0 Mbps and higher 16.0 Mbps and higher 25.0 Mbps and higher 30.0 Mbps and higher 50.0 Mbps and higher 100 Mbps and higher
1 37 39 40 36 36 26 26 25
2 33 30 25 21 20 16 15 11
3 23 18 10 4 4 0 0 0
Total 93 87 75 61 60 42 41 37
Mobile only 6 10 - - - - - -

Sources: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and CRTC data collection

This table shows the percentage of households in rural areas that have access to broadband services at varying speeds, and over three platforms (DSL/fibre, cable modem, and fixed wireless), as well as the percentage of rural households that can only get mobile service (HSPA+ and/or LTE at 1.5 Mbps, LTE at 5 Mbps). On one end of the availability spectrum, non-mobile broadband service platforms at speeds of at least 5 Mbps are available to 87% of rural Canadian households. On the other end of the spectrum, two broadband service platforms at speeds of more than 100 Mbps are available to 11% of rural Canadian households.

The total at the bottom of each column indicates the percentage of rural Canadian households that can access the speeds noted for each column. This table excludes broadband services provided through satellite technologies.

Table 5.3.16 Broadband service availability, by speed and province/territory (% of households), 2016
Province/territory 1.5-4.9 Mbps 1.5-4.9 Mbps with HSPA+ 5-9.9 Mbps 5-9.9 Mbps with LTE 10-15.9 Mbps 16-24.9 Mbps 25-49.9 Mbps 50 Mbps or higher
British Columbia 98 99 97 99 96 94 93 92
Alberta 99.7 100.0 99 99.9 97 94 95 83
Saskatchewan 93 99.7 90 96 83 62 60 52
Manitoba 98 99.8 95 97 87 78 77 70
Ontario 99 99.9 98 99.8 96 95 93 88
Quebec 98 99.7 98 99 95 92 91 90
New Brunswick 98 99.8 96 99 95 93 93 83
Nova Scotia 99.9 100.0 89 99 85 82 82 81
Prince Edward Island 96 100.0 83 100.0 69 67 67 67
Newfoundland and Labrador 89 98 87 98 76 76 73 72
Yukon 97 97 97 97 76 62 62 62
Northwest Territories 99 99 95 95 93 54 54 54
Nunavut 99 99 30 30 0 0 0 0

Sources: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and CRTC data collection

Not all provinces/territories have the same access to broadband services. This table shows regional availability in 2016 by broadband technology and by province and territory. The availability of broadband services vary from province to province. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have arrangements to provide broadband services at 1.5 Mbps via satellite under terms and conditions similar to those for wireline services. In Prince Edward Island, HSPA+ is available to households without access to other means of broadband services under terms and conditions equivalent to those for wireline services. Since satellite service has a national footprint, it is excluded from this table.

Figure 5.3.17 Broadband service availability – Urban vs. rural (% of households), 2016

Stacked column chart of Figure 5.3.17: Broadband availability – Urban vs. broadband (% of households), 2016. Stacked column chart of Figure 5.3.17: Broadband availability – Urban vs. broadband (% of households), 2016.
Text Description of Image

This stacked column chart shows broadband availability, by size of community and speed. Rural areas have less availability than all types of urban centres, especially at higher speeds.

Speed Large population centres Medium population centres Small population centres Rural areas
1.5 - 4.9 100 100 100 93
5 - 9.9 100 100 100 87
10 -15.9 100 100 99 75
16 - 24.9 100 100 95 61
25 - 29.9 100 100 94 60
30 - 49.9 100 100 89 42
50 - 99.9 100 100 89 41
100 + 98 98 84 37
Additional HSPA+ and LTE for 1.5-4.9 6
Additional LTE for 5-9.9 10

Sources: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and CRTC data collection

This table shows the percentage of Canadian households in large, medium, and small population centres, as well as in rural areas, that can access various broadband services.

Small population centres are considered to have populations of between 1,000 and 29,000. Medium population centres are considered to have populations of between 30,000 and 99,999. Large population centres are considered to have populations greater than 100,000. Rural areas have populations of less than 1,000, or fewer than 400 people per square kilometre.

The HSPA+ and LTE bars show the additional effect that inclusion of these technologies would have on the following categories: HSPA+ and LTE for 1.5 to 4.9 Mbps availability, and LTE for 5 to 9.9 Mbps availability.

Satellite services are excluded since they have a national footprint.

Table 5.3.17 Adoption of various video technologies in Canada (% of households)
Technology Language market 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Internet TV Anglophones 38 44 51 57 60
Francophones 39 44 42 49 54
Watch an entire 30 or 60 minute TV program on the internet Anglophones 24 31 37 39 53
Francophones 21 26 29 29 44
Internet video on cell/smartphone Anglophones 14 23 38 50 51
Francophones 8 16 27 37 44
Watched TV Online on smartphone Anglophones 7 12 n/a 22 23
Francophones 4 7 n/a 15 21
Internet use on tablet Anglophones 29 37 44 45 47
Francophones 15 28 37 43 48
Internet video on tablet Anglophones 11 20 26 34 36
Francophones 7 16 25 34 37
Watched Online TV on Tablet Anglophones 6 12 n/a 19 22
Francophones 4 10 n/a 19 21

Source: MTM [Media Technology Monitor] 2012-2016 (Respondents: Canadians 18+)

This table shows the rates of adoption and growth of various video technologies among Canadian consumers. Over the past five years, the popularity of video and television streaming to personal electronic devices has grown greatly.

Table 5.3.18 Adoption of various video technologies in Canada, by age group (%), 2016
Technology 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+
Internet TV 80 68 47 28
Watch an entire 30 or 60 minute TV program on the internet 75 59 38 22
Internet video on cell/smartphone 79 66 33 11
Watched TV Online on smartphone 41 30 11 4
Internet use on tablet 45 60 48 31
Internet video on tablet 36 47 36 22
Watched Online TV on Tablet 24 30 18 11

Source: MTM [Media Technology Monitor] 2016 (Respondents: Canadians 18+)

5.4 Data and private line retail sector

Infographic summarizing section 5.4 – Data and private line retail sector Infographic summarizing section 5.4 – Data and private line retail sector
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the data and private line retail sector and is divided into 6 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 5 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows the retail data and private line revenues as a percentage of retail telecommunications revenues in 2016.
    1. Data and private line: 7%.
    2. Total telecommunications retail revenues were $44.7 billion.
  2. Revenues: $3.3 billion, a decrease of 3.3% over 2015.
  3. Incumbent market share of total revenues: 66%.
  4. Forborne data: 98% of revenues.
  5. Forborne private line: 85% of revenues.
  6. Forborne private line: 6,423 routes, an increase of 5.6% over 2015.

“Data and private line services” refers to services sold by telecommunications service providers (TSPs) to business customers for the transmission of data, video, and/or voice traffic. These services provide private, highly secure communications channels between locations.

Data services are packet-based services that intelligently switch data through carrier networks. They make use of (a) newer data protocols such as Ethernet and IP, or (b) legacy protocols such as X.25, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), and frame relay to transmit data.

Canadian businesses were served by approximately 191 entities offering data and private line services in 2016. Of these, incumbent telecommunications service providers (incumbent TSPs or incumbent providers) accounted for approximately 15%, and alternative service providers, such as cable-based carriers, utility telcos, and resellers, accounted for the remaining 85%.

These services are provided by both incumbent TSPs and their competition, with competitors having around 36% of the total market, including network management and equipment. Notable is the increase in the activity of cable-based carriers in the newer protocol space.

Private line services provide a non-switched dedicated communications connection between two or more points to transport data, video, and/or voice traffic. These services include high-capacity digital transmission services and digital data systems, as well as voice-grade and other analog systems. Transmission facilities include copper wire and fibre-optic cable. Private line services make use of transmission facilities such as OC-3 fibre optic lines and DS-1 copper facilities.

The private line market is dominated by the incumbent TSPs. Of the alternative service providers, the independent operator category is the largest provider category.

i) Revenues

Table 5.4.1 Data and private line retail revenues ($ millions)
Category Subcategory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2014-2015 CAGR (%) 2012-2015
Data Data protocols 1,893 1,917 1,952 1,919 1,869 -2.6 -0.3
Other 796 832 857 779 730 -6.2 -2.1
Total 2,689 2,749 2,809 2,698 2,600 -3.6 -0.8
Private line Total 793 834 784 754 738 -2.0 -1.8
Total Total 3,482 3,583 3,593 3,452 3,338 -3.3 -1.1

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows retail data and private line revenues for the years from 2012 to 2016. Data services were classified into one of two categories: (a) services making use of data protocols such as Ethernet and IP, X.25, ATM, and frame relay; or (b) other services such as network management and networking equipment.

Due to a change in company reporting in 2015, other data revenues may not be comparable to previous years. This creates a loss of approximately 6% of other revenues in 2015.

Table 5.4.2 Retail data service revenues by classification of data protocol used ($ millions)
Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Newer protocols 1,826 1,868 1,920 1,898 1,857 -2.2 0.4
Legacy protocols 67 49 32 21 12 -42.8 -34.9
Total 1,893 1,917 1,952 1,919 1,869 -2.6 -0.3

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the retail data service revenues earned by service providers. The data services were classified as services making use of (a) newer data protocols such as Ethernet and IP or (b) legacy protocols such as X.25, ATM, and frame relay. The table charts growth in these revenues over the period from 2012 to 2016.

Figure 5.4.1 Breakdown of newer data service revenues, by protocol used

Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.1: Breakdown of newer data service revenues, by protocol used (2012-2016) Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.1: Breakdown of newer data service revenues, by protocol used (2012-2016)
Text Description of Image

This stacked bar chart describes the breakdown of newer data service revenues, by protocol used 2012 to 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ethernet 26 27 24 24 22
IP 66 64 68 68 71
Other 8 9 9 8 8

This chart shows the breakdown of data service revenues as reported by the larger companies (they account for 92% of newer protocol revenues). IP-based data services have become even more dominant from 2012 to 2016.

Table 5.4.3 Private line retail revenues by type of service provider ($ millions)
Type Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) (2012-2016)
Incumbent TSPs Total 652 683 634 604 548 -9.3 -4.2
Alternative service providers Cable-based carriers 49 54 61 62 65 3.8 7.2
Others 92 97 90 87 125 43.8 8.0
Total 141 151 150 149 190 27.1 7.7
Total Total 793 834 784 754 738 -2.0 -1.8

Source: CRTC data collection

Other alternative service providers are service providers that are not incumbent TSPs or cable-based carriers; they include resellers. A large portion of the significant growth in alternative service providers’ revenues reflects ownership transactions.

ii) Competitive landscape

Although incumbent TSPs accounted for only approximately 15% of the entities providing data and private line services, they captured 66% of retail revenues. The remaining 85% of entities providing these services, consisting of cable-based carriers, other carriers, and resellers, accounted for 34% of retail revenues.

Figure 5.4.2 Retail data and private line revenue market share (%), by type of TSP

Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.2: Retail data and private line revenue market share (%), by type of TSP Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.2: Retail data and private line revenue market share (%), by type of TSP
Text Description of Image

This stacked bar chart describes the percentage revenue market share of various industry participant groups for the retail data and private line market for 2012 to 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incumbent TSPs 76 76 74 73 66
Cable-based carriers 8 9 10 11 12
Others 16 15 15 16 22

Source: CRTC data collection

Some of the significant growth in alternative service providers’ revenues (referred to as ”Others” in Figures 5.4.2 and 5.4.3) is due to recent ownership transactions.

Figure 5.4.3 Retail data service revenue market share (%), by type of TSP

The stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.3: Retail data service revenue market share (%), by type of TSP The stacked bar chart of Figure 5.4.3: Retail data service revenue market share (%), by type of TSP
Text Description of Image

The stacked bar chart describes the percentage revenue market share of various industry participant groups for the retail data market for 2012 and 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incumbent TSPs 75 74 72 71 64
Cable-based carriers 8 9 11 12 12
Others 17 17 16 17 23

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 5.4.4 Retail data service revenue market share (%), by type of service provider and classification of data protocol used
Protocol Type of service provider Service provider subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Newer data protocols Incumbent TSPs Total 67 66 66 66 56
Alternative service providers Cable-based carriers 10 12 12 13 13
Others 23 22 22 21 30
Total 33 34 34 34 44
Legacy data protocols Incumbent TSPs Total 62 61 63 67 61
Alternative service providers Total 38 39 37 33 39
All data protocols Incumbent TSPs Total 67 66 66 66 57
Alternative service providers Total 33 34 34 34 43

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the percentage of retail data revenues for different types of service provider, broken down into newer and legacy data protocols.

Table 5.4.5 Retail private line revenue market share (%)
Service provider type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incumbent TSPs 82 82 81 80 74
Cable-based carriers 6 6 8 8 9
Others 12 12 11 12 17

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the revenue market shares of the incumbent TSPs when providing service to their business customers, both within and outside their traditional serving territories, and for alternative service providers (i.e. cable-based carriers, utility telcos, and resellers), for the years from 2012 to 2016.

Incumbent TSPs continue to dominate in this service category.

5.5 Wireless retail sector

Infographic summarizing section 5.5 – Wireless retail sector Infographic summarizing section 5.5 – Wireless retail sector
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the wireless retail sector and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows
    1. Retail wireless: 52% as a percentage of retail telecommunications revenues in 2016.
    2. Total telecommunications retail revenues were $44.7 billion.
  2. Revenues: $23.2 billion, an increase of 3.2% over 2015.
  3. Subscriber market share of the top 3 wireless service providers: 89%.
  4. Average revenue per subscriber per month: $64, a decrease of -0.1% over 2015.
  5. Percent of Canadian subscribers subscribing to at least 1 GB data plan: 48%, an increase from 46% in 2015.

The wireless retail market remained the largest communications market sector, with revenues of $23.2 billion in 2016. This included growth of 3.2% or $720 million from 2015.

Canada’s wireless networks enable Canadians to access services that are comparable to wireline services. Wireless service providers (WSPs) provide voice, data, Internet, and video services. The differentiating factors for these services tend to be mobility and price. Based on MTM’s 2016 statistics, the three most popular activities by Canadian smartphone owners were text messages, Internet access, and email.

Wireless networks cover approximately 20% of Canada’s geographic land mass and reach 99% of Canadians. The advanced wireless networks such as long-term evolution (LTE) and LTE-advanced (LTE-A), which deliver even higher speeds than previous generation networks, is available to approximately 98.5% and 83.0% of Canadians, respectively. Not only were these networks serving over 30.7 million Canadian subscribers, there were also over 3.0 million machine-to-machine connections reported in 2016.

In addition to advanced wireless networks such as LTE that provide broadband Internet access, WSPs significantly increased the number of publicly available WiFi hotspot locations (free and for-pay) across the country, from 14,000 at the end of 2014 to over 27,900 by the end of 2016. This provided Canadians with an additional method of accessing voice and data communications services on their handheld and other wireless communication devices. WiFi hot spots also provide wireless subscribers a means to minimize potential roaming charges.

In terms of provider choice, Canadians were served by three large national WSPs, collectively accounting for 89% of wireless service subscribers. A number of smaller, regional, facilities-based WSPs and a small number of mobile virtual network operators and resellers accounted for the remaining 11%. In both urban centres and rural communities, Canadians generally had a choice of between two and five WSPs.

In 2013, the Wireless Code came into effect, ensuring that consumers of wireless services could better understand their contracts, establishing consumer-friendly business practices, significantly limiting the early cancellation fees that were previously sought by retail WSPs; and enabling consumers to take advantage of competitive offers at least every two years. In 2016, approximately 91% of post-paid plan subscribers had contracts that were equal to or less than two years in length, compared to 67% in 2014 and 44% in 2013.

After the 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum auction in 2014, the Government of Canada took additional measures in early 2015 to encourage greater competition in the wireless market by releasing 50 MHz of spectrum in an auction for advanced wireless services (AWS-3) in the bands of 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz. As a result, five companies invested $2.1 billion in AWS-3 spectrum and 39 licences were issued that year. In 2016, the amount of capital investment as a percentage of total wireless revenues, or capital intensity, dropped to 10%, compared to 22% in 2015 and 35% in 2014. This was largely due to higher investment spending on spectrum in 2014.

In 2015, the Commission published Telecom Regulatory Policy 2015-177, in which it determined that it is necessary to regulate rates that Bell Mobility, Rogers, and TELUS charge other wireless carriers for domestic Global System for Mobile communications (GSM)-based wholesale roaming.  These regulations will facilitate sustainable competition and provide benefits to Canadians, such as reasonable prices and innovative services, as well as continued innovation and investment in high-quality mobile wireless networks. In the decision, the Commission expressed its intent to monitor the competitive conditions in the mobile wireless services market.

In late 2016, the CRTC launched the first review of the Wireless Code since it came into effect in December 2013. The review looked at consumer concerns surrounding issues such as bill shock, unlocking fees on all devices, and trial periods. As a result of the review, many Canadians will benefit from the revisions that were set out in mid-2017 in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2017-200. For more details regarding the review, see section 2.0.

Furthermore, the Commission issued Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496, in which it established a universal service objective (USO) framework that aims to help Canadians participate in the digital economy and society. One of the key components in the USO is the importance of wireless services. The goal is for Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas, to have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks.

i) Revenues

Figure 5.5.1 Wireless service revenue and subscriber growth rates (excluding paging)

Line chart of Figure 5.5.1: Wireless service revenue and subscriber growth rates (excluding paging) Line chart of Figure 5.5.1: Wireless service revenue and subscriber growth rates (excluding paging)
Text Description of Image

This line chart shows the mobile wireless revenue and subscriber percentage growth (excluding paging) for each year between 2012 and 2016.

Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Wireless revenue growth 6.2% 3.5% 3.7% 7.6% 3.2%
Subscriber 3.3% 2.3% 1.5% 3.4% 3.3%

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows revenue and subscriber growth rates for WSPs from 2012 to 2016. In 2016, the wireless revenue growth rate slipped below its five-year average of 4.8% to 3.2%, and subscriber growth rate moved slightly lower to 3.3%. In 2015, strong growth in data, roaming, and other revenues, as well as in terminal equipment revenues, culminated in a 7.6% increase in wireless revenues.

Table 5.5.1 Retail wireless and paging service revenues ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireless 19,504.8 20,179.3 20,927.9 22,511.7 23,232.8 3.2 4.5
Paging 21.8 18.4 17.3 12.6 11.1 -12.2 -15.6
Total revenues 19,526.6 20,197.7 20,945.2 22,524.3 23,243.9 3.2 4.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the revenues for the wireless and paging service markets from 2012 to 2016. Annual growth rates for wireless services (excluding paging) can be found in figure 5.5.1.

Table 5.5.2 Retail wireless and paging service revenue components ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Basic voice 9,486.8 8,818.7 8,665.5 8,689.0 8,834.3 1.7 -1.8
Long distance 1,255.6 1,160.3 880.4 656.1 547.0 -16.6 -18.8
Paging 21.8 18.4 17.3 12.6 11.1 -12.2 -15.6
Terminal equipment (including handheld devices) 1,532.8 1,501.5 1,673.7 2,129.8 1,911.1 -10.3 5.7
Data 6,233.2 7,546.1 8,672.6 10,034.9 10,980.5 9.4 15.2
Roaming and other 996.3 1,152.8 1,035.7 1,001.9 960.0 -4.2 -0.9
Data, roaming, and other – Subtotal 7,229.5 8,698.8 9,708.3 11,036.8 11,940.4 8.2 13.4
Total 19,526.6 20,197.7 20,945.2 22,524.3 23,243.9 3.2 4.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the service revenue components of the wireless market from 2012 to 2016. These components include voice, long distance, paging, hardware, data, roaming, and other. Mobile TV revenues are included within data revenues.

Table 5.5.3 Prepaid and postpaid retail wireless service revenues (basic voice, long distance, and data) ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Prepaid 877.3 790.4 871.6 879.8 932.4 6.0 1.5
Postpaid 15,762.3 16,303.6 17,179.5 18,345.8 19,306.2 5.2 5.2
Total 16,639.6 17,094.0 18,051.1 19,225.6 20,238.6 5.3 5.0

Source: CRTC data collection

Canadians have a choice of either prepaid or postpaid wireless services. With prepaid services, a significant portion of services and usage is paid for prior to consuming the services. With postpaid services, a significant portion of services and usage is paid for subsequent to consuming the services.

In 2016, of companies that reported data overage charges, approximately 6.0% of their total retail mobile revenues were reported to be directly from revenues collected from subscribers who exceeded allowable monthly data limits; the revenues excluded charges for flex-type plans, domestic and international roaming, and text messaging services.

Figure 5.5.2 Roaming revenues by type and destination, 2016

Bar chart of Figure 5.5.2: Roaming revenues by type and destination, 2016 Bar chart of Figure 5.5.2: Roaming revenues by type and destination, 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the percentage of voice and data roaming revenues that were derived within Canada, the United States, and internationally (SMS and MMS revenues were excluded).

Country Voice Data
Canada 3% 3%
United States 72% 62%
International 25% 35%

Source: CRTC data collection

WSPs extend their coverage area to areas where they do not have facilities by making arrangements with other WSPs that do have facilities in those areas to offer service to their end-users. When a subscriber uses the facilities of another WSP, the subscriber is said to be “roaming.” This graph shows the percentage of roaming revenues that were derived within Canada, the United States, and internationally. SMS and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) revenues were excluded from the data revenue component of this figure.

While 56% of voice roaming and 44% of data roaming happens within Canada (as shown in Figure 5.5.29), the revenues come mainly from roaming in the United States (66%).

ii) Subscriber data

Table 5.5.4 Number of wireless subscriptions (thousands)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireless 27,720.6 28,363.8 28,788.9 29,765.4 30,752.0 3.3 2.6

Source: CRTC data collection

From 2012 to 2016, there was a steady increase in wireless subscriptions.

Table 5.5.5 Postpaid wireless service subscribers as a percentage of total wireless service subscribers (%)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Postpaid 81 83 86 86 87

Source: CRTC data collection

Canadians subscribing to wireless services favour postpaid services.

Figure 5.5.3 Percentage of wireless service plans with contracts, by duration

Bar chart of Figure 5.5.3: Percent of wireless service contracts, by duration Bar chart of Figure 5.5.3: Percent of wireless service contracts, by duration
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the percentage of postpaid plans that were under contract for less than 1 year, for 1 to 2 years, and for greater than 2 years in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Metric 2013 2014 2015 2016
Less than 1 year 24.0% 28.5% 36.2% 46.2%
1 to 2 years 19.5% 38.1% 50.1% 44.7%
Greater than 2 years 56.4% 33.4% 13.7% 9.1%

Source: CRTC data collection

This chart shows the percentage of postpaid plans that were without contract, under contract for one to two years, and under contract for more than two years.

With the implementation of the Wireless Code in 2013, the percentage of postpaid plans under contracts of more than two years has declined significantly. While customers can still sign contracts more than two years in length, no cancellation fees can be incurred after 24 months.

Figure 5.5.4 Total and daily number of SMS and MMS messages

Bar chart of Figure 5.5.4: Total and daily number of MMS and SMS messages Bar chart of Figure 5.5.4: Total and daily number of MMS and SMS messages
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the total and daily number of SMS and MMS messages for each year between 2012 and 2016.

Metric 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Daily 551M 531M 510M 533M 547M
Total 201B 194B 186B 195B 200B

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the number of messages sent and received by Canadians via SMS and MMS per day and annually for the period 2012 to 2016.

Short message service (SMS)

enables the transmission of text messages of up to 160 characters in length between subscribers.

Multi-media messaging service (MMS)

is similar to SMS, but it enables the transmission of multimedia content, such as pictures and videos, between subscribers.

Table 5.5.6 Average monthly SMS/MMS (messages/month) and data (MB/month) usage
Metric 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016
Average data usage per subscriber (MB/month) 641 981 1,225 24.9
Average data usage per subscriber with a data plan (MB/month) 988 1,390 1,570 12.9
Average number of SMS/MMS per subscriber (messages/month) 547 548 545 -0.6

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the average mobile data usage across all retail subscribers and the average data usage among those subscribers who subscribed to a data plan.

The average wireless data usage per subscriber, and per subscriber who subscribed to a data plan, was calculated by dividing total retail data usage (upload/download data) for the year by the average number of subscribers at the beginning and at the end of the year. Subscribers who subscribed to a data plan were classified as those who subscribed to voice and data or data-only plans. The 2015 average data usage per subscriber and average data usage per subscriber with a data plan were restated to include estimates that were overlooked.

Table 5.5.7 Average revenue per 1 GB data/month ($)
Metric 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016
1 GB of data usage 28.0 24.5 -12.5

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the average revenues generated from 1 GB of data usage per month. Only companies that provided both data traffic and revenues were included in the calculation. The 2015 figure was restated to reflect additional and more accurate data.

iii) Competitive landscape

Figure 5.5.5 TSPs’ wireless subscriber market share

Circular charts of Figure 5.5.5: TSPs’ wireless subscriber market share Circular charts of Figure 5.5.5: TSPs’ wireless subscriber market share
Text Description of Image

These side by side circular charts show the mobile wireless subscriber market share of Rogers, Bell Group, Telus and Others for 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Group 2015 2016
Rogers 33% 33%
Bell Group 28% 28%
Telus 29% 28%
Others 10% 11%

Source: CRTC data collection

These charts show the percentage of subscribers to wireless services in 2015 and 2016 for Canada’s three major TSPs: the Bell Group of companies (Bell Group), Rogers, and TELUS. Collectively, these companies had 90% and 89% of wireless subscribers in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The “Other” category includes TSPs such as MTS Inc. (MTS), SaskTel, other small TSPs as well as, the remaining new entrants that acquired spectrum in Industry Canada’s (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada [ISED}) 2008 AWS spectrum auction and were still operating as a competitor to the Bell Group, Rogers, and/or TELUS in 2015.

Bell Group includes Bell Canada; Bell Mobility; KMTS; Latitude Wireless; NorthernTel, Limited Partnership; Northwestel Mobility; and Télébec, Limited Partnership. As of 2013, Public Mobile’s figures were included with those of TELUS. In 2015, Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc.’s (Mobilicity) figures were included with those of Rogers.

Figure 5.5.6 TSPs’ wireless service revenue market share

Circular charts of Figure 5.5.6: TSPs’ wireless service revenue market share Circular charts of Figure 5.5.6: TSPs’ wireless service revenue market share
Text Description of Image

These side by side circular charts show the mobile wireless revenue market share of Rogers, Bell Group, Telus and Others for 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Group 2015 2016
Rogers 34% 33%
Bell Group 29% 29%
Telus 29% 29%
Others 8% 9%

Source: CRTC data collection

These charts show the percentage of revenues from wireless services in 2015 and 2016 for Canada’s three major TSPs: the Bell Group, Rogers, and TELUS. Collectively, they had 92% and 91% of all wireless revenues in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Figure 5.5.7 Percentage of revenues and subscribers derived via primary brands, flanker brands, and resellers/rebillers

Bar chart of Figure 5.5.7: Percentage of revenues and subscribers derived via primary brands, extension brands, and resellers/rebillers Bar chart of Figure 5.5.7: Percentage of revenues and subscribers derived via primary brands, extension brands, and resellers/rebillers
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the percentage of revenues and subscribers garnered through primary brands, extension brands, and resellers/rebiller arrangements for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Revenue and subscribers for 2014:
Group Revenues Subscribers
Primary brands 82% 72%
Extension brands 17% 28%
Resellers/Rebillers 1% 1%
Revenue and subscribers for 2015:
Group Revenues Subscribers
Primary brands 80% 73%
Extension brands 19% 25%
Resellers/Rebillers 1% 1%
Revenue and subscribers for 2016:
Group Revenues Subscribers
Primary brands 78% 72%
Extension brands 21% 26%
Resellers/Rebillers 1% 1%

Source: CRTC data collection

Canadian WSPs market wireless services through primary and flanker brands. By marketing their services through various market segments, they are able to differentiate service offerings to potentially affect the competitive landscape in regional markets. This graph depicts the revenues and subscribers garnered through primary brands, flanker brands, and reseller/rebiller arrangements.

Flanker brands

are brand names created by companies to serve specific customer needs. These names are in addition to the companies’ established or primary brand. Some Canadian flanker brands include Fido, Solo, and Koodo.

Resellers/rebillers

are companies that rely mainly on the large, facilities-based operators to package, market, bill, and deliver their mobile services, e.g., PC Mobile, Petro-Canada Mobility, and 7-Eleven SpeakOut.

Table 5.5.8 Wireless service subscriber market share by province and territory (2016) (%)
Province/territory Bell Group TELUS Rogers Other
British Columbia 20 41 38 0
Alberta 25 52 23 0
Saskatchewan 17 13 5 64
Manitoba 9 7 38 47
Ontario 30 21 47 2
Quebec 30 27 28 15
New Brunswick 55 26 19 0
Nova Scotia 53 34 13 0
Prince Edward Island 56 31 13 0
Newfoundland and Labrador 69 28 2 1
The North 86 10 0 3

Source: CRTC data collection

Canada’s major WSPs have different shares of the provincial/territorial wireless markets. This table displays the market shares owned by the major WSPs, excluding Freedom Mobile and Eastlink/Bragg, in Canada’s provinces and territories. Other service providers include (but are not limited to) SaskTel, MTS, and Videotron.

The three major WSPs have the largest market share across all provinces and territories except Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The North includes Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Table 5.5.9 Average monthly churn rates (%)
Service provider 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Bell Mobility 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.5 1.4
Rogers 1.8 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.6
TELUS 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.2

Source: Companies’ annual reports and CRTC data collection

This table shows the average churn rate for three major WSPs from 2012 to 2016. Customers may leave their WSP for a number of reasons, including dissatisfaction with the service, taking advantage of competitive offers, and pricing issues.

The average churn rate

is a measure of subscriber turnover. It is derived by dividing the number of subscribers that have left a wireless service by the total number of wireless service subscribers. The higher the number, the more people are leaving the provider.

iv) Technology indicators

The following tables and charts indicate the extent to which Canadians are adapting to a digital communication system. Smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices that provide access to the Internet are continually increasing demand for wireless capacity.

Figure 5.5.8 Mobile device penetration

Bar chart of Figures 5.5.8: Mobile device penetration Bar chart of Figures 5.5.8: Mobile device penetration
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the percentage of Anglophones and Francophones owning the following mobile devices from 2012 to 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Cellphone 80 83 83 86 87
Smartphone 51 62 66 73 77
Tablet 26 39 49 52 54

Source: MTM 2016 (Respondents: Canadians aged 18+)

This figure shows the percentage of Canadians, 18 years of age and older, who owned regular cellphones, smartphones, and tablets, from 2012 to 2016. In this figure, smartphones are a subset of cellphones. The use of smartphones and tablets increases the volume of data traffic on the network.

Table 5.5.10 Mobile device penetration, by linguistic group (%)
Mobile device 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Anglo Franco Anglo Franco Anglo Franco Anglo Franco Anglo Franco
Cellphone 83 71 86 74 86 75 89 78 89 81
Smartphone 55 39 66 49 69 54 77 61 80 68
Tablet 28 17 42 30 51 41 53 48 55 52

Source: MTM 2016 (Respondents: Canadians aged 18+)

This table shows the percentage of Francophones and Anglophones in Canada who own cellphones, smartphones, and tablets, from 2012 to 2016. Cellphone owners include people who own either a regular cellphone or a smartphone.

Figure 5.5.9 Mobile device penetration, by region, 2016

Clustered horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.9: Mobile device penetration, by region, 2016 Clustered horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.9: Mobile device penetration, by region, 2016
Text Description of Image

This clustered horizontal bar chart shows the percentage of Canadians owning the following mobile devices in 2016 broken down by region:

Type Total Atlantic Quebec Ontario Manitoba/ Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia
Regular cell phone 9 12 10 8 8 8 7
Smartphone 77 74 70 79 82 84 79
Tablet 54 55 51 55 53 59 56

Source: MTM 2016 (Respondents: Canadians aged 18+)

Canadians who reside in the western provinces are generally more likely to adopt smartphones and tablets than Canadians who reside in the eastern provinces, although adoption rates are high throughout Canada.

Table 5.5.11 Number of subscribers with a data plan, by province and territory
Province/territory 2015 2016 Growth(%) of number of subscribers with a data plan
Number of subscribers with a data plan (000’s) Percentage of national total (%) Number of subscribers with a data plan (000’s) Percentage of national total (%)
British Columbia 3,021 14 3,505 14 16.0
Alberta 3,069 14 3,460 14 12.7
Saskatchewan 720 3 791 3 9.9
Manitoba 900 4 955 4 6.1
Ontario 8,825 40 9,923 40 12.4
Quebec 4,099 19 4,769 19 16.4
New Brunswick 403 2 447 2 10.9
Nova Scotia 552 3 612 2 10.9
Prince Edward Island 80 0 88 0 10.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 327 1 358 1 9.4
The North 62 0 66 0 5.6

Source: CRTC data collection

The number of individuals who subscribed to a data plan is a measure of the extent to which Canadians are participating in the digital economy, and provides an indication of the extent to which Canadians are adopting advanced handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.

This table shows the number of individuals who subscribed to a data plan in each region of the country in 2015 and 2016, as well as the number of subscribers with a data plan expressed as a percentage of all mobile data plan subscribers in Canada.

The North includes Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Figure 5.5.10 Mobile data-only plan revenues and subscribers by data plan capacity, 2016

Circular charts of Figure 5.5.10: Mobile data-only plan revenues and subscribers, by data plan capacity, 2016 Circular charts of Figure 5.5.10: Mobile data-only plan revenues and subscribers, by data plan capacity, 2016
Text Description of Image

These side by side circular charts show the percent of revenues and subscribers for mobile data only plan for three categories, less than 501 MB, between 501 MB and 2 GB and greater than 2 GB.

Group Revenues Subscribers
Less than 501 MB 67% 81%
Between 501 MB and 2 GB 8% 7%
Greater than 2 GB 25% 12%

Source: CRTC data collection

These charts show the percentages of WSPs’ revenues and subscribers by data plan capacity in 2016. Of the total number of subscribers, 6% were reported to be data-only subscribers.

Data-only plans include built-in and portable access devices, such as hubs, sticks, dongles, and laptops.

Figure 5.5.11 Percentage of mobile revenues from voice vs. voice and data vs. data-only plans, 2016

Circular chart of Figure 5.5.11: Percentage of mobile revenues from voice vs. voice and data vs. data-only plans, 2016 Circular chart of Figure 5.5.11: Percentage of mobile revenues from voice vs. voice and data vs. data-only plans, 2016
Text Description of Image

This circular chart shows the percent of revenues by type of mobile plan in 2016.

Type 2015
Voice 12%
Voice and data 85%
Data-only 3%

Source: CRTC data collection

This chart shows the percentage of revenues that WSPs derived from customers who subscribed to voice plans, voice and data plans, and data-only plans in 2016.

Table 5.5.12 Mobile broadband subscribers by type of plan
Type Metric 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%)2015-2016 CAGR (%)2012-2016
Voice and data Number of subscribers (millions) 13.0 16.1 17.7 20.2 23.0 13.6 15.3
Percentage of all subscribers (%) 47 57 61 68 75 10.0 12.6
Data-only Number of subscribers (millions) 1.3 1.5 1.6 1.8 2.0 10.4 11.0
Percentage of all subscribers (%) 5 5 6 6 7 6.8 8.3
Total Number of subscribers (millions) 14.3 17.6 19.3 22.0 25.0 13.3 15.0
Percentage of all subscribers (%) 51 62 67 74 81 9.7 12.2

Source: CRTC data collection

From 2012 to 2016, Canadians increasingly used broadband technology on mobile devices.

Figure 5.5.12 Percentage of mobile wireless subscribers with a data plan

This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.12 Percentage of mobile subscribers with a data plan, 2012-2016 This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.12 Percentage of mobile subscribers with a data plan, 2012-2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart show the percentage of wireless subscribers with data plan between 2012 and 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Subscribers with a data plan 51% 62% 67% 74% 81%

Source: CRTC data collection

The data reported in this bar chart represents over 90% of total mobile wireless subscribers. The chart shows the percentage of subscribers with a data plan.

Figure 5.5.13 Percentage of mobile wireless subscribers with data plans by size of plan, 2016

This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.13 Percentage of mobile subscribers with data plans, by size of data plan, 2016 This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.13 Percentage of mobile subscribers with data plans, by size of data plan, 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart show the percent distribution of subscribers with a data plan, excluding data-only subscriber data plans, by size of the plan in 2016.

Type Percentage
Less than 300 MB 16%
300 MB-999 MB 15%
1 GB 15%
2 GB 14%
3 GB - 4 GB 14%
5 GB or more 26%

Source: CRTC data collection

The chart shows the percent distribution of subscribers with a data plan, excluding data-only plans, by size of the plan. However, due to the inconsistent reporting of subscribers from group/family/corporate sharing plans, the distribution of data plan subscribers by size of data plan may have been under represented.

Figure 5.5.14 Percentage of mobile wireless subscribers with voice plans, by size of voice plan, 2016

This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.14 Percentage of mobile subscribers with voice plans, by size of voice plan, 2016 This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.14 Percentage of mobile subscribers with voice plans, by size of voice plan, 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart show the percent distribution of subscribers with a voice plan, by the number of voice minutes allotted to the plan in 2016.

Type Percentage
Less than 150 min. 13%
150 min. up to 450 min. 18%
450 min. up to 1200 min. 10%
>1200 min. but not limited 3%
Unlimited min. 56%

Source: CRTC data collection

The chart shows the percent distribution of mobile wireless subscribers with a voice plan by the number of voice minutes allotted to the plan.

Unlimited voice plans are the most common type of voice plan in Canada.

Figure 5.5.15 Percentage of mobile wireless subscribers with SMS plans by size of plan, 2016

This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.15 Percentage of mobile subscribers with SMS plans, by size of SMS plan, 2016 This bar charts ofFigure 5.5.15 Percentage of mobile subscribers with SMS plans, by size of SMS plan, 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart show the percent distribution of subscribers with a SMS plan, by the number of SMSs allotted to the plan in 2016.

Type Percentage
Less than 300 SMS 1%
>300 SMS but not unlimited 1%
Unlimited SMS 98%

Source: CRTC data collection

The chart shows the distribution of subscribers with an SMS plan by the number of messages allotted to the plan.

Figure 5.5.16 Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their smartphone, 2016

Clustered bar chart of Figure 5.5.16: Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their smartphone, 2016 Clustered bar chart of Figure 5.5.16: Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their smartphone, 2016
Text Description of Image

This clustered bar chart shows the percentage of Anglophone and Francophone Canadians who reported engaging in the following activities on their smartphone in 2016.

Type Anglophone Francophone
Send/receive email 68 60
Access Internet 89 85
Banking online 44 41
Made an online purchase 26 25
Read online news 53 46
Social networking 66 62

Source: MTM 2016, spring 2017 (Respondents: Canadians aged 18+)

This graph shows the activities that Francophones and Anglophones carry out using their smartphones.

Figure 5.5.17 Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their tablet, 2016

Clustered bar chart of Figure 5.5.17: Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their tablet, 2016 Clustered bar chart of Figure 5.5.17: Popular Internet and mobile activities performed by Canadians on their tablet, 2016
Text Description of Image

This clustered bar chart shows the percentage of Anglophone and Francophone Canadians who reported engaging in the following activities on their tablet in 2016.

Type Anglophone Francophone
Send/receive email 46 53
Access Internet 84 90
Banking online 23 29
Made an online purchase 22 24
Read online news 43 51
Social networking 52 62

Source: MTM 2016, spring 2017 (Respondents: Canadians aged 18+)

v) Performance indicators

Table 5.5.13 Average wireless service revenue per subscriber
Metric 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Average wireless service revenue per subscriber ($/month) 59.6 60.0 61.0 64.1 64.0 1.8
Annual growth (%) 1.6 0.7 1.8 5.0 -0.1

Source: CRTC data collection

Average wireless service revenue per subscriber is a useful measure of the revenues WSPs receive per subscriber. Conversely, from a consumer perspective, it is a measure of consumers’ expenditures on wireless services. This table shows the average revenue per subscriber for wireless services from 2012 to 2016.

The average wireless service revenue per subscriber was calculated by dividing total annual wireless service revenues by the average number of subscribers during the year. The result was then divided by twelve to obtain a monthly result. The average number of subscribers was determined by dividing the sum of the number of subscribers at the beginning and at the end of the year by two.

Table 5.5.14 Average wireless service revenues per subscriber, by province and territory (excluding paging) ($)
Province/territory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 CAGR (%)2012-2016
British Columbia 62.55 63.42 62.48 67.32 65.16 1.0
Alberta 72.82 74.10 75.01 76.48 72.62 -0.1
Saskatchewan 57.83 58.72 62.16 64.45 68.14 4.2
Manitoba 54.99 59.42 60.97 63.21 64.10 3.9
Ontario 60.60 58.93 59.50 61.56 66.84 2.5
Quebec 51.46 53.69 53.58 56.92 55.36 1.8
New Brunswick 54.62 55.65 55.56 58.95 63.22 3.7
Nova Scotia 57.22 58.15 56.98 63.02 63.78 2.8
Prince Edward Island 55.47 52.86 51.62 57.73 61.08 2.4
Newfoundland and Labrador 58.70 60.61 61.18 68.90 70.49 4.7
The North 94.31 135.44 81.09 92.37 92.86 -0.4

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the average revenue per user for WSPs in each region of the country from 2012 to 2016 based on provincial revenue and subscriber data reported, but excludes Freedom Mobile and Eastlink/Bragg’s revenues and subscribers. Estimates were made for companies that were not required to provide provincial and territorial data.

vi) Price

The price structure of wireless services is based on usage. To assess the price of wireless services in urban centres and in rural communities, four baskets are used, and both flanker and primary service brands were considered. These baskets were adopted from the report Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions (2014) and were modified in 2016 to increase the amount of Internet data included per month in baskets 2, 3, and 4.

What is Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions?

This report provides a 2016 update to the previous annual telecommunications price comparison studies conducted over the period from 2008 to 2016 for the CRTC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

The individual services covered by the study include wireline, mobile wireless, broadband Internet, and mobile Internet services.

For more information, please consult the following link: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/compar/compar2016.htm

Urban centres

Urban centres with four or more WSPs generally had the largest variance between the lowest and highest prices reported, as well as the lowest prices in each of the four service baskets. The variance between the lowest and highest prices across all service baskets in any given urban centre was wide, ranging from a low of $3 to a high of $60. The price variances that were most pronounced were found in service baskets 3 and 4. The average price variances between lowest and highest prices for the Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 service baskets were $13, $17, $21, and $46, respectively.

Figures 5.5.18 to 5.5.21 display the range in the monthly price of a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 wireless service basket in 24 urban centres in Canada. The number at the end of each bar is the highest price. The number appearing in parentheses along the vertical axis after the name of each urban centre represents the number of local WSPs.

Figure 5.5.18 Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.18: Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.18: Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 1 basket of wireless service by major centre, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Centre Low Variance High
Vancouver (4) 22 17 40
Victoria (3) 27 12 40
Calgary (4) 22 18 40
Edmonton (4) 22 18 40
Saskatoon (4) 27 3 30
Regina (4) 27 3 30
Winnipeg (4) 27 8 35
Toronto (4) 22 17 40
Ottawa-Gatineau (5) 21 19 40
Hamilton (4) 22 17 40
London (4) 22 17 40
Kitchener-Waterloo (4) 22 17 40
St Catharines - Niagara (4) 22 17 40
Windsor (4) 25 15 40
Oshawa (4) 25 15 40
Montréal (4) 21 14 35
Québec (4) 21 14 35
Fredericton (3) 27 13 40
Charlottetown (4) 26 14 40
Halifax (4) 26 14 40
St. John's (3) 27 13 40
Whitehorse (2) 35 5 40
Yellowknife (2) 35 5 40
Iqaluit (2) 35 5 40

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.19 Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.19: Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.19: Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 2 basket of wireless service by major centre, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Centre Low Variance High
Vancouver (4) 34 16 50
Victoria (3) 43 7 50
Calgary (4) 34 16 50
Edmonton (4) 34 16 50
Saskatoon (4) 44 22 66
Regina (4) 44 22 66
Winnipeg (4) 43 17 60
Toronto (4) 34 16 50
Ottawa-Gatineau (5) 34 21 55
Hamilton (4) 34 16 50
London (4) 34 16 50
Kitchener - Waterloo (4) 34 16 50
St Catharines - Niagara (4) 34 16 50
Windsor (4) 34 16 50
Oshawa (4) 34 16 50
Montréal (4) 35 20 55
Québec (4) 35 20 55
Fredericton (3) 44 6 50
Charlottetown (4) 44 7 51
Halifax (4) 43 7 50
St. John's (3) 43 7 50
Whitehorse (2) 43 32 75
Yellowknife (2) 43 32 75
Iqaluit (2) 43 32 75

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.20 Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.20: Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.20: Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 3 basket of wireless service by major centre, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Centre Low Variance High
Vancouver (4) 38 26 64
Victoria (3) 55 9 64
Calgary (4) 38 26 64
Edmonton (4) 38 26 64
Saskatoon (4) 48 23 71
Regina (4) 48 23 71
Winnipeg (4) 48 12 60
Toronto (4) 38 26 64
Ottawa-Gatineau (5) 38 27 65
Hamilton (4) 38 26 64
London (4) 38 26 64
Kitchener - Waterloo (4) 38 26 64
St Catharines - Niagara (4) 38 26 64
Windsor (4) 38 26 64
Oshawa (4) 38 26 64
Montréal (4) 40 25 65
Québec (4) 40 25 65
Fredericton (3) 55 10 65
Charlottetown (4) 55 11 66
Halifax (4) 55 11 66
St. John's (3) 55 9 64
Whitehorse (2) 64 21 85
Yellowknife (2) 64 21 85
Iqaluit (2) 64 21 85

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.21 Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.21: Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.21: Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in a number of select cities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 4 basket of wireless service by major centre, as well as number of providers in each centre.

Centre Low Variance High
Vancouver (4) 35 60 95
Victoria (3) 65 30 95
Calgary (4) 35 60 95
Edmonton (4) 35 60 95
Saskatoon (4) 48 23 71
Regina (4) 48 23 71
Winnipeg (4) 48 22 70
Toronto (4) 35 60 95
Ottawa-Gatineau (5) 35 60 95
Hamilton (4) 35 60 95
London (4) 35 60 95
Kitchener - Waterloo (4) 35 60 95
St Catharines - Niagara (4) 35 60 95
Windsor (4) 35 60 95
Oshawa (4) 35 60 95
Montréal (4) 45 40 85
Québec (4) 45 40 85
Fredericton (3) 66 29 95
Charlottetown (4) 66 29 95
Halifax (4) 65 30 95
St. John's (3) 65 30 95
Whitehorse (2) 65 50 115
Yellowknife (2) 65 50 115
Iqaluit (2) 65 50 115

Source: CRTC data collection

Price comparison of urban and rural wireless services

To assess the price of wireless services in rural Canada, 54 rural communities were selected, and the price of wireless services in these communities was compared to that in urban centres.

The price of wireless services in rural communities, across all service baskets, was generally equal to or higher than that in urban centres, with the exception of Quebec. In the province of Quebec, the highest price for the level 4 basket in the urban communities were $5 more than in the rural communities. Price differences were more pronounced for level 3 and 4 baskets, especially in Ontario and Alberta, where the minimum price varied by approximately $30 between rural and urban communities. The highest price for the level 4 basket in Ontario and Manitoba showed a notable variance of $45 between rural and urban communities.

The variance between the lowest and highest price of wireless services across all service baskets in rural communities, by province and territory, was wide, ranging between $3 and $67. Across all rural and urban communities, the average price variance in the level 1 and level 4 basket was $11 and $41, respectively.

The average price variances among rural communities for Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 service baskets were $11, $22, $22, and $46, respectively. In the urban centres for the identical service baskets, the price variances were $11, $12, $19, $36, respectively.

Which rural communities were included?

54 rural communities were selected to assess the price of wireless services (see Appendix 9). These communities met the following criteria:

  • they were not part of one of the census metropolitan areas of the 24 urban centres;
  • they had population densities of fewer than 400 people per square kilometre, or their population centres had fewer than 1,000 people;
  • the number of communities in each province/territory was proportional to the population of the province/territory; and
  • the communities were not clustered together.

Figures 5.5.22 to 5.5.25 display the range in the monthly price of wireless services in urban centres and rural communities in Canada, by province and territory. The number at the end of each bar is the highest price. The number appearing in parentheses along the vertical axis after the name of each province and territory represents the number of local WSPs.

Figure 5.5.22 Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.22: Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.22: Price of a Level 1 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 1 basket of wireless service by urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Centre Low Variance High
B.C. Rural (3) 25 15 40
B.C. Urban (4) 22 17 40
Alta. Rural (3) 27 13 40
Alta. Urban (4) 22 18 40
Sask. Rural (4) 27 3 30
Sask. Urban (4) 27 3 30
Man. Rural (4) 27 12 40
Man. Urban (4) 27 8 35
Ont. Rural (3) 21 19 40
Ont. Urban (5) 21 19 40
Que. Rural (4) 21 14 35
Que. Urban (4) 21 14 35
N.B. Rural (3) 27 13 40
N.B. Urban (3) 27 13 40
P.E.I. Rural (4) 27 13 40
P.E.I. Urban (4) 27 13 40
N.S. Rural (4) 26 15 40
N.S. Urban (4) 26 14 40
N.L. Rural (3) 27 13 40
N.L. Urban (3) 27 13 40
Y.T. Rural (2) 35 5 40
Y.T. Urban (2) 35 5 40
N.W.T. Rural (2) 35 5 40
N.W.T. Urban (2) 35 5 40
Nvt. Rural (2) 35 5 40
Nvt. Urban (2) 35 5 40

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.23 Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.23: Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.23: Price of a Level 2 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 2 basket of wireless service by urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Centre Low Variance High
B.C. Rural (3) 38 37 75
B.C. Urban (4) 34 16 50
Alta. Rural (3) 43 32 75
Alta. Urban (4) 34 16 50
Sask. Rural (4) 44 31 75
Sask. Urban (4) 44 22 66
Man. Rural (4) 43 32 75
Man. Urban (4) 43 17 60
Ont. Rural (3) 43 7 50
Ont. Urban (5) 34 16 50
Que. Rural (4) 35 20 55
Que. Urban (4) 35 20 55
N.B. Rural (3) 44 6 50
N.B. Urban (3) 44 6 50
P.E.I. Rural (4) 44 7 51
P.E.I. Urban (4) 44 7 51
N.S. Rural (4) 43 7 51
N.S. Urban (4) 43 7 50
N.L. Rural (3) 43 7 50
N.L. Urban (3) 43 7 50
Y.T. Rural (2) 43 32 75
Y.T. Urban (2) 43 7 50
N.W.T. Rural (2) 43 32 75
N.W.T. Urban (2) 43 7 50
Nvt. Rural (2) 43 32 75
Nvt. Urban (2) 43 7 50

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.24 Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.24: Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.24: Price of a Level 3 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 3 basket of wireless service by urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Centre Low Variance High
B.C. Rural (3) 45 40 85
B.C. Urban (4) 38 26 64
Alta. Rural (3) 64 21 85
Alta. Urban (4) 38 26 64
Sask. Rural (4) 55 30 85
Sask. Urban (4) 48 23 71
Man. Rural (4) 54 31 85
Man. Urban (4) 48 12 60
Ont. Rural (3) 55 9 64
Ont. Urban (5) 38 26 64
Que. Rural (4) 40 25 65
Que. Urban (4) 40 25 65
N.B. Rural (3) 55 10 65
N.B. Urban (3) 55 10 65
P.E.I. Rural (4) 55 11 66
P.E.I. Urban (4) 55 11 66
N.S. Rural (4) 55 20 75
N.S. Urban (4) 55 11 66
N.L. Rural (3) 55 21 76
N.L. Urban (3) 55 9 64
Y.T. Rural (2) 64 21 85
Y.T. Urban (2) 64 21 85
N.W.T. Rural (2) 64 21 85
N.W.T. Urban (2) 64 21 85
Nvt. Rural (2) 64 21 85
Nvt. Urban (2) 64 21 85

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.5.25 Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.25: Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.25: Price of a Level 4 basket wireless service ($/month) and number of companies providing the service in urban centres and rural communities, 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows the highest and lowest monthly prices in dollars for a level 4 basket of wireless service by urban and rural areas on a per province basis.

Centre Low Variance High
B.C. Rural (3) 55 60 115
B.C. Urban (4) 35 60 95
Alta. Rural (3) 65 50 115
Alta. Urban (4) 35 60 95
Sask. Rural (4) 48 67 115
Sask. Urban (4) 48 47 95
Man. Rural (4) 48 67 115
Man. Urban (4) 48 23 71
Ont. Rural (3) 65 50 115
Ont. Urban (5) 35 35 70
Que. Rural (4) 45 45 90
Que. Urban (4) 45 50 95
N.B. Rural (3) 66 19 85
N.B. Urban (3) 66 19 85
P.E.I. Rural (4) 66 29 95
P.E.I. Urban (4) 66 29 95
N.S. Rural (4) 65 30 95
N.S. Urban (4) 65 30 95
N.L. Rural (3) 65 30 95
N.L. Urban (3) 65 30 95
Y.T. Rural (2) 65 50 115
Y.T. Urban (2) 65 30 95
N.W.T. Rural (2) 65 50 115
N.W.T. Urban (2) 65 30 95
Nvt. Rural (2) 65 50 115
Nvt. Urban (2) 65 30 95

Source: CRTC data collection

Historical price comparison

The historical price analysis was conducted using the previously defined price baskets as summarized below and covers the period between 2013 and 2015. Due to methodology changes, namely in the composition of the service baskets, 2016 data is not comparable to previous year data and is excluded from the following analysis.

Combined urban and rural pricing

Figure 5.5.26 displays the average price of each of the four baskets across all 80 urban centres and rural communities. Between 2013 and 2015, mobile prices generally declined, with the most significant price reductions for baskets 2 and 3 in 2014.

Figure 5.5.26 Average prices for mobile services, 2013-2015

Line chart of Figure 5.5.26: Average prices for mobile services, 2013-2015 Line chart of Figure 5.5.26: Average prices for mobile services, 2013-2015
Text Description of Image

This line chart displays the average price of each of the four baskets across all 80 urban and rural communities between 2013 and 2015.

Year Avg. price – basket 1 Avg. price – basket 2 Avg. price – basket 3 Avg. price – basket 4
2013 31.31 43.39 69.27 -
2014 29.11 37.32 58.38 61.14
2015 28.43 35.83 58.00 62.23

Source: CRTC data collection

All centres:

Overall, from 2013 to 2015, the average price for basket 1 to 3 mobile service plans declined by 15%, while the price of the 4th basket slightly increased (2%) from 2014 to 2015.

Urban vs. rural pricing

In terms of urban-rural comparisons, price declines were higher in rural areas than in urban centres. The percentage price decrease in urban centres was approximately half the decrease found in rural areas for baskets 1 and 2 in 2015. During the same period, the price decrease in urban centres was about 70% of the price decrease in rural areas for basket 3, and the price increase for basket 4 was equivalent in both urban and rural areas.

Figure 5.5.27 Average urban prices for mobile services, 2013-2015

Line chart of Figure 5.5.27: Average urban prices for mobile services, 2013-2015 Line chart of Figure 5.5.27: Average urban prices for mobile services, 2013-2015
Text Description of Image

This line chart displays the average urban price of each of the four baskets across all urban communities between 2013 and 2015.

Year Avg. price – basket 1 Avg. price – basket 2 Avg. price – basket 3 Avg. price – basket 4
2013 29.80 39.59 64.68 -
2014 28.75 36.82 56.60 59.03
2015 28.16 35.66 56.51 60.06

Source: CRTC data collection

Urban centres:

Overall, in urban areas, from 2013 to 2015, the average price for basket 1 to 3 mobile service plans declined by 10%, while the price of the 4th basket slightly increased (2%) from 2014 to 2015.

Figure 5.5.28 Average rural prices for mobile services, 2013-2015

Line chart of Figure 5.5.28: Average rural prices for mobile services, 2013-2015 Line chart of Figure 5.5.28: Average rural prices for mobile services, 2013-2015
Text Description of Image

This line chart displays the average rural price of each of the four baskets across all rural communities between 2013 and 2015.

Year Avg. price – basket 1 Avg. price – basket 2 Avg. price – basket 3 Avg. price – basket 4
2013 31.94 44.96 71.17 -
2014 29.27 37.54 59.16 62.06
2015 28.55 35.90 58.64 63.17

Source: CRTC data collection

Rural areas:

Overall, in rural areas, from 2013 to 2015, the average price for basket 1 to 3 mobile service plans declined by 17%, while the price of the 4th basket slightly increased (2%) from 2014 to 2015.

vii) Coverage/availability details

Table 5.5.15 Wireless coverage, penetration, and average revenue per user (ARPU) by province and territory, 2016
Province/territory Coverage (%) Penetration rate (%) ARPU ($/month)
Wireless HSPA+ LTE LTE-A
British Columbia 98.8 98.8 98.6 93.1 87.8 65.16
Alberta 99.8 99.8 99.8 96.3 91.5 72.62
Saskatchewan 99.5 99.5 86.2 44.4 83.8 68.14
Manitoba 98.4 98.4 93.1 59.3 79.6 64.10
Ontario 99.8 99.8 99.7 95.0 81.6 66.84
Quebec 99.3 99.3 98.7 61.4 73.5 55.36
New Brunswick 99.6 99.6 98.8 74.5 75.2 63.22
Nova Scotia 99.7 99.7 99.4 83.2 76.1 63.78
Prince Edward Island 99.9 99.9 99.9 92.4 72.4 61.08
Newfoundland and Labrador 96.1 96.1 94.4 76.3 81.6 70.49
The North 86.3 86.3 63.5 41.4 64.5 92.86
Canada 99.4 99.4 98.5 83.0 84.3 64.91

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows wireless coverage and penetration rates for various wireless technologies, such as LTE and HSPA+, by percentage of population for each province and the territories. The table also shows the monthly ARPU in each region. Provincial penetration rates and ARPU exclude data from Freedom Mobile and Eastlink/Bragg however, Canada’s penetration rate includes the data from Freedom Mobile and Eastlink/Bragg.

Penetration rates represent the number of subscriptions divided by the population.

Table 5.5.16 Percentage of population covered by number of different wireless networks, by province and territory, (%), 2016
Province/territory None 1 network 2 networks 3 networks 4 or more networks
British Columbia 1 1 41 57 0
Alberta 0 0 37 62 0
Saskatchewan 0 20 77 3 0
Manitoba 1 1 20 77 0
Ontario 0 0 16 74 9
Quebec 1 3 5 20 71
New Brunswick 0 3 66 30 0
Nova Scotia 0 3 13 84 0
Prince Edward Island 0 0 13 87 0
Newfoundland and Labrador 4 45 13 38 0
The North 9 28 64 0 0
Canada 1 3 22 54 20

Source: CRTC data collection

This table represents the number of different wireless networks, in terms of radio access facilities, in each of the provinces and territories. In many provinces, facilities-based WSPs that own spectrum share the same radio access facilities to offer telecommunications services to the public. Some adjustments were made to more accurately reflect the coverage in the North.

Figure 5.5.29 Roaming voice and data traffic by destination, 2016

Bar chart of Figure 5.5.29: Roaming voice and data traffic by destination, 2016 Bar chart of Figure 5.5.29: Roaming voice and data traffic by destination, 2016
Text Description of Image

This dual bar chart shows the percentage of voice minutes and data traffic, excluding MMS and SMS, derived from roaming within Canada, the United States, and internationally.

Group Roaming voice minutes Roaming data traffic
Canada 56% 44%
United States 36% 46%
International 9% 10%

Source: CRTC data collection

WSPs extend their coverage area to areas where they do not have facilities by making arrangements with other WSPs that do have facilities in those areas to offer service to their end-users. When a subscriber uses the facilities of another WSP, the subscriber is said to be “roaming.” This dual chart shows the percentage of voice minutes and data traffic, excluding MMS and SMS, derived from roaming within Canada, the United States, and internationally.

Figure 5.5.30 Established carriers’ coverage and penetration vs. new entrants’ coverage and penetration (% of population), 2016

Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.30: Established carriers’ coverage and penetration vs. new entrants’ coverage and penetration, (% of population) 2016 Horizontal bar chart of Figure 5.5.30: Established carriers’ coverage and penetration vs. new entrants’ coverage and penetration, (% of population) 2016
Text Description of Image

This horizontal bar chart shows established carriers’ coverage and penetration versus new entrants’ coverage and penetration by percent of population for the years between 2012 and 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Established carriers' coverage 99.4% 99.4% 99.4% 99.4% 99.4%
Established carriers' penetration 75.6% 76.9% 76.2% 77.8% 78.9%
New entrants' coverage 57.6% 64.5% 64.3% 69.8% 70.5%
New entrants' penetration 4.2% 3.8% 4.5% 4.9% 5.5%

Source: CRTC data collection

Canada’s wireless service market is dominated by established carriers. These companies offer significantly more coverage and achieve higher subscriber penetration rates than the new entrants.

Figure 5.5.31 Number of WiFi hotspot locations

This bar chart of Figure 5.5.31: Number of WiFi hotspot locations, 2014-2016 This bar chart of Figure 5.5.31: Number of WiFi hotspot locations, 2014-2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the number of free WiFi hotspots per 100,000 population in 2014-2016.

Year BC AB MB/SK ON QC
2014 122 78 25 24 15
2015 156 122 77 35 15
2016 231 159 185 40 17

Source: CRTC data collection

WiFi hotspots are an important service that TSPs use to attempt to differentiate their services from each other, as well as to extend their brand. Hotspots are locations where Internet access via 802.11 WiFi technology is provided to the public. “Free” is defined as having no charge for at least 1/2 hour of access, even if access requires being a paid customer at the location. Major providers in western Canada have moved towards providing free hotspots, as shown in the above chart.

Only hotspots provided by the major TSPs are included, which may exclude independently run free hotspots provided by hotels, restaurants, and other public facilities.

Data for the Atlantic Provinces and the North is not reported due to the confidentiality of the data.

Figure 5.5.32 Number of free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspot locations in Canada, 2016

Circular chart of Figure 5.5.32: Number of free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspot locations in Canada, 2016 Circular chart of Figure 5.5.32: Number of free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspot locations in Canada, 2016
Text Description of Image

This circular chart shows the number of free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspot locations in Canada.

Type 2016
Free 27,998
For-pay 997

Source: CRTC data collection

The above chart shows the number of free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspots provided by major TSPs in Canada. Free is defined as having no charge for at least 1/2 hour of access, even if access requires being a paid customer to the location.

This chart does not include hotspots that only provide access to a TSP’s existing customers.

Map 5.5.1 Wireless service availability by number of facilities-based WSPs, 2016

Map 5.5.1: Wireless service availability by number of facilities-based WSPs, 2016 Map 5.5.1: Wireless service availability by number of facilities-based WSPs, 2016
Text Description of Image

This map displays the presence and the number of wireless facilities-based service providers in Canada.

Source: CRTC data collection

This map shows the cross-country availability of wireless services from facilities-based WSPs.

Map 5.5.2 Wireless HSPA+ service availability by incumbent and new-entrant facilities-based WSPs, 2010 and 2016

Map 5.5.2: Wireless HSPA+ service availability by incumbent and new-entrant facilities-based WSPs, 2016 Map 5.5.2: Wireless HSPA+ service availability by incumbent and new-entrant facilities-based WSPs, 2016
Text Description of Image

This map displays the presence and the number of HSPA+ wireless facilities-based service providers in Canada for 2010 and 2016.

Source: CRTC data collection

This map shows the cross-country availability of wireless HSPA+ networks by incumbent and new-entrant facilities-based WSPs, as well as the expansion of the incumbents’ wireless HSPA+ networks in 2010 and 2016.

Map 5.5.3 Wireless LTE service availability between 2013 and 2016

Map 5.5.3: Wireless LTE service availability between 2013 and 2016 Map 5.5.3: Wireless LTE service availability between 2013 and 2016
Text Description of Image

This map displays the expansion of wireless LTE network coverage in Canada for 2013-2016.

Source: CRTC data collection

This map shows the expansion of wireless LTE coverage in Canada over the past four years.

Map 5.5.4 Wireless LTE-Advanced service availability, 2016

Map 5.5.4: Wireless LTE Advanced service availability, 2016 Map 5.5.4: Wireless LTE Advanced service availability, 2016
Text Description of Image

This map displays the availability of LTE advanced in Canada for 2016.

Source: CRTC data collection

This map shows wireless LTE-Advanced coverage in Canada.

5.6 Wholesale telecommunications sector

Infographic summarizing section 5.6 – Wholesale telecommunications sector Infographic summarizing section 5.6 – Wholesale telecommunications sector
Text Description of Image

This infographic presents several key indicators for the wholesale sector and is divided into 5 sections. The first section is a donut chart and the last 4 are data points.

  1. Donut chart shows the percentage of wholesale revenues as a proportion of all telecommunications revenues. In 2016, these revenues were 8% of all telecommunications revenues. Total telecommunications revenues were 48.7 billion in 2016.
  2. Revenues: $4.1 billion, an increase of 3.3% over 2015.
  3. Percentage of revenues not price regulated: 77%.
  4. Wireless revenues: $1.2 billion, an increase of 6.9% over 2015.
  5. Wireline revenues: $2.9 billion, an increase of 1.9% over 2015.

Wholesale services are services provided by a TSP (telecommunications service provider) to another provider of telecommunication services for use in the provision of telecommunications services. Providers of telecommunications services rely on wholesale services to varying degrees. Resellers of telecommunications services depend more on wholesale services than companies that have their own facilities to provide service. In 2016, for the purposes of providing wireline services, resellers spent 45 cents of every revenue dollar on wholesale services, compared to around 6 cents for facilities-based service providers.

The availability of wholesale services is a major factor that ultimately provides greater choice to Canadians in the telecommunications service market. In 2016, the wholesale telecommunications market was worth $4.1 billion, of which 30% was for the provision of wireless services and 70% for wireline services.

Independent Internet service providers (ISPs) frequently depend on access services offered by the incumbent TSPs and the cable-based carriers to connect to their customers. Over the years, sales of cable-based access services, known as third-party Internet access (TPIA) services, to independent ISPs have increased.

Wholesale wireless services are an increasingly important part of the telecommunications landscape. Joint network building by several large carriers allows them to minimize overall costs and maximize the use of networks. Since 2012, wireless wholesale revenues have increased at an average annual rate of 9.3%.

i) Revenues

Table 5.6.1 Wholesale telecommunications revenues ($ billions)
Sector 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireline 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.8 2.9 1.9 -0.4
Wireless 0.8 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.2 6.9 9.3
Total 3.7 3.7 3.8 3.9 4.1 3.3 2.0

Source: CRTC data collection

The table shows that wireline wholesale revenues have been stable since 2012, while wireless wholesale revenues have been increasing. The wireless wholesale market excludes fixed-wireless services.

Table 5.6.2 Wholesale telecommunications revenues by market sector ($ millions)
Sector Category Subcategory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Wireline Voice Local and access 751 704 646 603 615 2.0 -4.9
Long distance 552 433 414 423 458 8.2 -4.6
Voice subtotal 1,303 1,137 1,059 1,026 1,073 4.5 -4.7
Non-voice Internet 426 434 481 556 589 5.8 8.4
Newer data protocols 355 400 454 495 514 3.8 9.7
Legacy data protocols 35 30 24 20 16 -21.7 -18.1
Other data services 88 94 99 89 70 -21.0 -5.5
Data subtotal 478 525 576 604 600 -0.7 5.9
Private line 695 657 628 615 593 -3.5 -3.9
Non-voice subtotal 1,599 1,616 1,685 1,776 1,782 0.4 2.8
Total Total voice and non-voice 2,901 2,753 2,744 2,802 2,855 1.9 -0.4
Wireless All All 840 953 1,038 1,123 1,200 6.9 9.3
All Total All 3,742 3,706 3,783 3,925 4,055 3.3 2.0

Source: CRTC data collection

Voice wholesale revenues have declined 4.7% annually since 2012, whereas wireline non-voice revenues have increased 2.8%. The strongest revenue growth was in newer services such as Internet and mobile wireless services, and data services using newer data protocols such as Ethernet and IP. These services have increased between 8.4% and 9.7% annually since 2012.

Figure 5.6.1 Wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector

Bar chart of Figure 5.6.1: Wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector Bar chart of Figure 5.6.1: Wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the revenues from 2012 to 2016 for the various sectors of the wholesale market.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local and access 751 704 646 603 615
Long distance 552 433 414 423 458
Internet 426 434 481 556 589
Newer data protocols 355 400 454 495 514
Legacy data protocols 35 30 24 20 16
Private line 695 657 628 615 593
Wireless 840 953 1,038 1,123 1,200
Other data services 88 94 99 89 70

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 5.6.2 Percentage distribution of wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector (2012 vs. 2016)

Circular charts of Figure 5.6.2: Percentage distribution of wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector (2012 vs. 2016) Circular charts of Figure 5.6.2: Percentage distribution of wholesale telecommunications revenues, by market sector (2012 vs. 2016)
Text Description of Image

These two circular charts show the distribution of wholesale telecommunications revenue by market sector in 2012 and 2016.

Wholesale telecommunications revenue by market sector in 2012:
Type Percentage
Local and access 20
Long distance 15
Private line 19
Internet 15
Newer data protocols 9
Other data 3
Wireless 22
Wholesale telecommunications revenue by market sector in 2016:
Type Percentage
Local and access 15
Long distance 11
Private line 15
Internet 15
Newer data protocols 13
Other data 2
Wireless 30

Source: CRTC data collection

These charts compare the percentage distribution of wholesale telecommunications revenues between 2012 and 2016. During this period, revenues from wholesale mobile wireless services have increased as a percentage of total wholesale revenues, from 22% in 2012 to 30% 2016. They make up the largest percentage of wholesale revenues, followed by local and access and private line.

Newer data protocols include Ethernet and Internet Protocol-Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN).

Table 5.6.3 Local wholesale telecommunications revenues, by major component ($ millions)
Component 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Interconnection 220 212 198 192 184 -4.3 -4.4
Centrex, PSTN access 403 368 340 313 353 13.0 -3.2
Unbundled loops 47 44 40 37 33 -10.8 -8.5
Other revenues 44 42 52 42 18 -56.6 -19.9
Total 714 665 629 584 589 0.8 -4.7

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays local and access wholesale revenues by major component. Telecom service providers use these components to provide retail telecommunications service. For example, unbundled loops can be used by an alternative service provider to provide local telephone service to its retail customers. In addition, interconnection enables the customers of one service provider to contact the customers of another service provider.

PSTN refers to the public switched telephone network, which is the worldwide set of interconnected switched voice telephone networks that deliver fixed telephone services to the general public and are usually accessed by telephones, key telephone systems, private branch exchange trunks, and certain data arrangements, transmitting voice, other audio, video, and data signals.

Centrex is a business telephone service offered by a TSP that permits direct inward dialling to a customer's extension, the transfer of incoming calls from one extension to another, and identification of extension telephones for the billing of long-distance calls.

Table 5.6.4 Local wholesale telecommunications revenues, by province ($ millions)
Province 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012– 2016
British Columbia 60 44 59 53 51 -3.2 -3.8
Alberta 58 58 45 62 60 -3.5 0.8
Saskatchewan 8 9 8 8 8 -5.5 -1.4
Manitoba 31 28 19 15 14 -6.9 -18.1
Ontario 341 302 274 247 246 -0.4 -7.8
Quebec 174 176 174 159 165 3.9 -1.3
New Brunswick 17 17 16 20 21 6.1 5.7
Nova Scotia 22 24 29 25 18 -28.6 -5.1
Prince Edward Island 2 3 3 1 3 151.4 5.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 9 10 10 10 11 14.4 6.2
Yukon 1 1 1 1 1 -32.4 -9.3
Northwest Territories 1 1 1 1 1 6.6 1.6
Nunavut 0 0 0 0 0 - -
Total 725 674 638 602 599 -0.5 -4.7

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows local wholesale telecommunications revenues by province by companies with annual revenues greater than $100 million. Revenues include wholesale revenues from the sale and rental of terminal equipment.

Figure 5.6.3 Wholesale high-speed access (HSA) based subscriptions across Canada, 2015 vs. 2016

Circular chart of Figure 5.6.3: Wholesale HSA based subscriptions across Canada, 2015 and 2016 Circular chart of Figure 5.6.3: Wholesale HSA based subscriptions across Canada, 2015 and 2016
Text Description of Image

This circular chart shows the percentage of wholesale HSA based subscriptions across Canada for 2015 and 2016.

Wholesale HSA based subscriptions across Canada, 2015:
Category Percentage
Ontario 71%
Quebec 23%
Rest of Canada 6%
Wholesale HSA based subscriptions across Canada, 2016:
Category Percentage
Ontario 68%
Quebec 25%
Rest of Canada 7%

Source: CRTC data collection

The Commission mandated that DSL, cable, and fibre facilities be made available to third-party providers operating under the wholesale HSA service framework. The usage of these services varies greatly depending on the region, with wholesale facilities-based competition from independent ISPs being much more prevalent in Ontario and Quebec.

Table 5.6.5 Internet-related wholesale revenues by type of service ($ millions)
Type of service 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Higher capacity access and transport 42 42 54 51 55 7.5 6.8
Lower capacity access 303 336 369 447 450 0.6 10.4
Other wholesale services 81 56 58 58 84 44.4 1.0
Total 426 434 481 556 589 5.8 8.4

Source: CRTC data collection

Internet-related wholesale revenues consist of services that provide access to the Internet for TSPs, to enable TSPs to connect directly to their subscribers, or to provide Internet-related equipment, applications, or other miscellaneous services. In the above table, they are divided into three categories.

Due to changes in company reporting, “other wholesale services” in 2016 may not be comparable to previous years.

Table 5.6.6 Wholesale HSA revenues by service component ($ millions)
Service component 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2013-2016
Access 200 213 250 264 5.6 9.6
Capacity 40 84 128 129 0.8 47.1
Interface and other 37 31 29 35 20.2 -1.9
Total 277 328 406 427 5.1 15.5

Source: CRTC data collection

The Commission has mandated that DSL and cable facilities be made available to third-party providers operating under the wholesale HSA service framework. Wholesale HSA service includes the following components:

Totals may not exactly match previous tables due to the use of different data sources.

Table 5.6.7 DSL and cable wholesale HSA service subscriptions by type of service (thousands)
Type of service 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015- 2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Cable-enabled subscriptions 187 305 393 454 502 10.5 28.0
DSL-enabled subscriptions 458 462 480 561 577 3.0 5.9
Total 645 767 873 1,015 1,079 6.4 13.7

Source: CRTC data collection

The vast majority of the above subscriptions are covered by the wholesale HSA framework, as described above. Over time, TSPs have been making increased use of wholesale DSL-based and cable-based facilities to connect to their end-users.

Table 5.6.8 DSL and cable wholesale HSA monthly revenue per enabled subscription ($)
Service component 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2013-2016
Access 23.61 21.66 22.04 20.98 -4.8 -3.9
Capacity 4.76 8.53 11.26 10.23 -9.2 29.0
Other 4.35 3.12 2.56 2.77 8.3 -14.0
Total 32.73 33.31 35.87 33.98 -5.3 1.3

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the average monthly revenue per enabled subscription from wholesale HSA services. The changes are due mainly to the transition to the capacity-based billing (CBB) regulatory regime.

Figure 5.6.4 Wholesale HSA-enabled subscriptions by service speed in Mbps (thousands)

Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.6.4: Wholesale HSA enabled subscriptions, by service speed in Mbps (thousands) Stacked bar chart of Figure 5.6.4: Wholesale HSA enabled subscriptions, by service speed in Mbps (thousands)
Text Description of Image

This stacked bar chart shows the number of wholesale HSA enabled subscriptions in thousands, by service speed in Mbps from 2012 to 2016.

Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0 up to 4 Mbps 49 29 17 35 15
5 to 9 Mbps 427 435 373 359 328
10 to 15 Mbps 110 99 180 302 367
16 to 49 Mbps 63 212 281 295 339
50 Mbps and up 0 4 18 58 65

Source: CRTC data collection

Wholesale HSA services are available at various speeds for end-user access. Over time, TSPs have availed themselves of higher-speed services to enable connectivity to their end-users. The above subscriptions are for residential and business end-user locations. Totals may not exactly match previous tables due to the use of different data sources.

Table 5.6.9 Data protocol wholesale revenues, by service category ($ millions)
Category Subcategory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%) 2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Newer protocols Ethernet 229 269 309 325 327 0.7 9.3
IP 99 102 116 142 159 12.0 12.6
Other 27 29 28 28 28 -1.4 1.1
Total newer protocols 355 400 454 495 514 3.8 9.7
Legacy protocols Total 35 30 24 20 16 -21.7 -18.1
Total Total 389 431 477 515 530 2.8 8.0

Source: CRTC data collection

The data services were classified as services making use of newer data protocols such as Ethernet and IP, or legacy protocols such as X.25, ATM, and frame relay. This table displays the revenues from wholesale data services by the protocol used in the service from 2012 to 2016.

Table 5.6.10 Wholesale mobile wireless revenues, by type of service ($ millions)
Type of service 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%)2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012-2016
Roaming 732 573 599 648 694 7.1 -1.3
Mobile interconnect, spectrum, and other services 109 380 439 475 506 6.6 46.9
Total 840 953 1,038 1,123 1,200 6.9 9.3

Source: CRTC data collection

Interconnection and roaming services are sold to other wireless service providers to enable them to exchange their traffic and extend their geographic coverage area. Other services mainly consist of, but are not limited to, arrangements for a wireless provider to provide wireless services to another company’s customers.

ii) Subscriber data

Table 5.6.11 Local and access lines, by type of TSP (thousands)
Type of TSP Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%)2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012–2016
Incumbent TSPs Total 742 683 658 598 497 -16.9 -9.5
Alternative TSPs Cable-based carriers 33 5 4 5 6 29.9 -33.4
Other 267 149 68 55 127 130.7 -17.0
Total Total 1,042 837 730 657 630 -4.1 -11.8

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays the number of wholesale local and access lines by type of service provider, as well as growth rates and the percentage of wholesale lines by type of service provider from 2012 to 2016. Over this period, incumbent TSPs’ share of wholesale lines increased from 72% in 2012 to 79% in 2016.

iii) Competitive landscape

Table 5.6.12 Wireline wholesale telecommunications revenue market share, by type of TSP (%)
Type of TSP Subtype 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incumbent TSPs Total 85 84 82 80 69
Alternative service providers Facilities-based (including cable-based carriers) 12 13 14 17 25
Resellers 3 4 4 4 6
Total 15 16 18 20 31

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays wireline wholesale revenues market share by type of TSPs from 2012 to 2016. Over this period, Incumbent TSPs maintained the largest share of the market, although their share has since decreased partly because of ownership transactions. With a 69% share of wholesale revenues, they have the largest share of the wholesale market.

Table 5.6.13 Local and access revenues, by type of TSP ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%)2015-2016 CAGR (%)2012–2016
Incumbent TSPs 708 657 625 580 563 -2.9 -5.6
Alternative TSPs (excluding cable-based carriers) 34 36 12 16 40 150.9 4.2
Cable-based carriers 10 11 9 8 12 48.8 4.5
Total 751 704 646 603 615 2.0 -4.9

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays revenues from wholesale local and access services by type of service provider, as well as growth rates and the percentage of wholesale revenues by type of service provider from 2012 to 2016.

Table 5.6.14 Wholesale long distance revenues by type of TSP ($ millions)
Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Growth (%)2015-2016 CAGR (%) 2012–2016
Incumbent TSPs 461 360 322 343 285 -16.9 -11.3
Alternative TSPs (excluding cable-based carriers) 72 59 81 71 166 134.3 23.3
Cable-based carriers 18 13 11 9 7 -27.7 -22.5
Total 552 433 414 423 458 8.3 -4.6

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays revenues from wholesale long distance services by type of TSP, as well as revenue growth rates and the percentage of wholesale revenues by type of TSP from 2012 to 2016. Wholesale long distance service includes the resale of long distance minutes that one service provider has acquired from another. Providers of prepaid long distance calling cards rely on these services.

iv) Forbearance

Figure 5.6.5 Wholesale telecommunications service revenues, by type of tariff, 2016 (%)

Donut chart of Figure 5.6.5: Telecommunications wholesale service revenues, by type of tariff, 2016 (%) Donut chart of Figure 5.6.5: Telecommunications wholesale service revenues, by type of tariff, 2016 (%)
Text Description of Image

This donut chart shows the percent of telecommunications wholesale services revenues that are tariff, off-tariff and non-tariff for 2016.

Category Percentage
Tariff 23%
Off-tariff 2%
Non-tariff 75%

Source: CRTC data collection

Approximately 77% of wholesale revenues were from non-tariff services and from services where the parties have agreed to an alternative price (off-tariff services).

Tariff services are services whose rates, terms, and conditions are set out in a Commission-approved tariff.

Non-tariff services are those telecommunications services whose rates, terms, and conditions are not set out in a Commission-approved tariff.

Off-tariff services are those whose prices are filed with the Commission but for which parties have agreed to an alternative price.

Tariff service revenues exclude revenues from off-tariff services.

Figure 5.6.6 Wholesale wireline telecommunications service revenues by type of service, 2016 (%)

Donut chart of Figure 5.6.6: Telecommunications wholesale service revenues, by type of service, 2016 (%) Donut chart of Figure 5.6.6: Telecommunications wholesale service revenues, by type of service, 2016 (%)
Text Description of Image

This donut chart shows the wholesale telecommunications revenue market share by type of service in 2016.

Category Percentage
Private line Competitor Digital Network (CDN) related 7
Remaining private line services 13
Ethernet access sold at wholesale rates to TSPs 3
Ethernet access sold at retail rates to TSPs 1
Remaining data services 17
High-speed access (Wholesale HSA) services 15
Remaining Internet wholesale 6
Support structures 2
Long distance direct connection and access tandem 1
Remaining long distance services 14
Local and access services 21

Source: CRTC data collection

This chart displays the percentage of revenues from wholesale services by type of wholesale service. For the purposes of this chart, support structure revenue was included in wholesale revenues.

Table 5.6.15 Percentage of wholesale telecommunications revenues generated by forborne services (%)
Type of service 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local and access 61 61 59 58 65
Long distance 99 99 97 98 98
Internet 53 45 43 42 45
Data 86 87 86 87 87
Private line 53 53 54 64 56
Wireless 100 100 100 100 97

Source: CRTC data collection

This table displays the percentage of wholesale telecommunications revenues from services that are not provisioned in accordance with a Commission-approved tariff.

v) Inter-provider expenses

Wholesale service revenues are the inter-provider expenses incurred by TSPs acquiring these services. All TSPs purchase telecommunications services from other carriers. The extent to which service providers rely on these services depends on the nature of their operations.

Figure 5.6.7 Inter-provider expenses per revenue dollar for wireline services

Bar chart of Figure 5.6.7: Inter-provider expenses per revenue dollar for wireline services, 2014 to 2016 Bar chart of Figure 5.6.7: Inter-provider expenses per revenue dollar for wireline services, 2014 to 2016
Text Description of Image

This bar chart shows the inter-provider expenses in cents per revenue dollar for various market participants for 2014 to 2016.

Type 2014 2015 2016
SILECs 8.7 9.5 7.2
ILECs 5.1 6.6 5.1
Cable 4.1 4.0 3.8
Other facilities-based 28.3 31.0 31.8
Resellers 48.1 45.5 45.2

Source: CRTC data collection

This table shows the extent to which various TSPs rely on wholesale services.

“SILECs” refers to Small ILECs

Inter-provider expense per revenue dollar compares the expenses incurred by a TSP in acquiring wholesale services to its telecommunications revenues for wireline services. It is derived by dividing total annual inter- provider expenses by annual telecommunications revenues. This calculation includes all revenues from telecommunications services, including revenues from telecommunications services requiring limited dependency on wholesale services.

A number of providers that omitted inter-provider expenses were eliminated from consideration.

In total, facilities-based service providers spend around 6 cents of every revenue dollar on wholesale telecommunications services, whereas resellers – service providers that do not own or operate transmission facilities – are very dependent. They spend 45 cents of every dollar on these services.

Download this report in PDF

Date modified: