Communications Monitoring Report
Communications Industry Overview: Telecommunications and Broadcasting
On this page
- Financial performance
- Industry characteristics
- Datasets Available on Open Data
|Revenues||$54.1 B||$16.9 B||$71.0 B|
|Share of total communications revenues||76.2%||23.8%||100.0%|
|Growth rate 2018-2019||2.0%||-1.4%||1.1%|
This section provides an overview of the communications industry and highlights pertinent revenue trends and key industry characteristics over the 2015 to 2019 period. The communications industry encompasses both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors.
In 2019, telecommunications revenues consistently increased from 2015 to 2019 (an average annual increase of 3.2%), while broadcasting revenues gradually decreased over the same period (an average annual decrease of 1.6%) (see Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.2). However, the telecommunications sector saw the slowest growth since 2010, at 2.0% (compared to 5.5% in 2018).
In 2019, the broadcasting sectors’ revenues declined by 1.4% from 2018 to 2019 while the telecommunications sectors’ revenues increased by 2.0%. However, because the telecommunications sector represents over three quarters of overall communications revenues, the communications sector saw a 1.2% increase in revenue growth, for a total of $71.0 billion in revenues (see Figure 1.1)Footnote 1 (an average annual growth of 1.9% since 2015).
More information, including financial performance, ownership landscape data, and pricing information for rural and urban centres across the country, can be found in the Year-End Monthly Prices, Highlights of the Telecommunications Sector and Highlights of the Broadcasting Sector sections of the Communications Monitoring Report (CMR), as well as on Open Data.
As seen in Figure 1.2 below, the revenue growth gap between the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors was the widest in 2018. In 2019, however, this gap shortened significantly due to slower growth in the telecommunications sector. This is the slowest growth for the telecommunications sector since 2010.
|Atlantic Provinces||$4.4 B|
|British Columbia and the North||$9.0 B|
This infographic excludes revenues generated from discretionary and on-demand television services as well as direct-to-home (DTH) BDU services (i.e. satellite television) (henceforth referred to as DTH BDU services), because those services are licensed as national services. Those services generated $4.2 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, in 2019. Estimates were made for companies that were not required to provide provincial and territorial telecommunications data.
To avoid residual disclosure, British Columbia and the North have been combined.
The communications industry served over 14 million households and over 1 million businesses in Canada using both landline and wireless facilities. Over 60%, or $39.2 billion, of all communications services revenues, excluding revenues generated from discretionary and on-demand television services, and DTH BDU services, were generated in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. These revenues represent approximately 39% and 23% of the Canadian population, respectively. Ontario accounted for 40.3% of national revenues, leading in country with the highest revenues of all provinces and territories.
In 2019, incumbent TSPs and cable-based carrier revenues accounted for the highest revenues as a percentage of total communications revenues, 50% and 33%, respectively.
The figure below shows that overall, telecommunication revenues have increased since 2015. The highest subset of telecommunication revenues was generated by incumbent TSPs ($31.2 billion, 43.9% of the total share and an annual average increase of 1.3%), followed by cable-based carriers ($19.1 billion, 26.9% of the total share and an annual average increase of 6.3%). From 2015 to 2019, cable-based carriers’ telecommunications revenues increased on average by 6.3% annually, from $15.0 to $19.1 billion. BDU revenues for cable-based carriers and television and radio revenues continued to decrease year-over-year, with an average decline of 3.6% and 1.5% (2015-2019), respectively.
|Canadians who watch television on any platform||96%||97%|
|Canadian households with an Internet connection||89%||92%|
|Canadians with a mobile data plan||76%||82%|
|Canadian households with a BDU subscription||73%||70%|
|Mobile service availability||2018||2019|
|LTE coverage (population availability)||99%||99%|
|LTE-A coverage (population availability)||95%||96%|
|10Mbps or faster Internet service (household availability)||97%||97%|
|50/10Mbps Internet service with unlimited data (household availability)||86%||87%|
|FTTH Internet service (household availability)||44%||45%|
“Watching television on any platform” refers to any form of television viewership, regardless of the chosen television medium. This includes, but is not restricted to, BDU-subscribed television, private conventional television, and Internet-based television services. The content can be viewed on any platform such as tablets, cell phones, Internet-connected television, or any other device.
Availability of wireline and wireless services continues to increase which provides faster telecommunications services to Canadians. In 2019, 45% of households had access to Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services while 87% of households had access to Internet services with speeds of 50/10 Mbps with unlimited data and 96% of the population were covered by Long-Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-A) networks. More statistics and breakdowns are available in the Broadband and LTE Availability and section of this report, as well as on Open Data.
Over the past five years, the average growth for wireless data plan subscriptions and Internet residential subscriptions (8.9% and 3.6%, respectively) outpaced the population growth, which has grown 1.4% on average per year from 2015 to 2019. During this same period, wireline telephone and BDU subscriptions decreased by 3.7% and 1.7% on average per year, respectively.
iii. Financial performance
Revenues from the top five ownership groups (Bell, Rogers, TELUS, Shaw and Quebecor) accounted for approximately 85% of total communications revenues in 2019 (unchanged since 2017). While the share of revenues from the top five entities has changed over time, the composition of the top five has remained relatively stable.
Three of the top five groups are cable-carriers (Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor), while the remaining two are incumbent TSPs (Bell and TELUS).
As illustrated in Figure 1.8, cable-based carriers’ wireline telecommunications services are continuing to generate an increasingly important share of total revenues. In 2019, wireline telecommunications revenues represented the largest portion (64%) of cable-based carriers’ total revenues.
As seen in Figure 1.9, from 2016 to 2019, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margins for ‘other service providers’ stabilized and margins remained consistent for all three types of carriers. However, EBITDA margins of ‘other service providers’ are half of those of incumbent TSPs and cable-based carriers.
iv. Industry characteristics
The communications industry is comprised of the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors with revenues from telecommunications services accounting for over three quarters of the share. This section reports on the revenues generated by service providers in each sector.
|Percentage of cable-based carriers’ revenues from telecommunications services||74.7%||81.3%|
|Percentage of incumbent TSPs’ revenues from broadcasting distribution services||11.5%||11.3%|
As seen in the infographic above, the majority of cable-based carriers’ revenues is derived from telecommunications services and the ratio has increased slightly from 2018 to 2019 period (see Open Data for more details).
The portion of incumbent TSPs’ revenues from broadcasting services has been quite small and has remained similar over the 2015 to 2019 period. Overall, the infographic illustrates a relevant measure of industry convergence.
As shown in the table below, three entities offered services in all 10 sectors of the communications industry: radio, conventional television, BDU, discretionary and on demand television, local and access, long distance, Internet, wireless, data and private line. In 2019, these three entities generated 62% of all communications revenues. In contrast, the 201 providers that offered only one service, generated only 2% of communications revenues.
The communications industry remains highly concentrated. Eight companies operating in eight or more sectors account for approximately 88% of total communications revenues.
|Number of sectors in which companies offer service||Number of reporting groups or entities operating in these sectors||Percentage of broadcasting and telecommunications revenues generated in these sectors|
v. Datasets Available on Open Data
There is an Excel workbook and CSV zip related to this report that have been published on the Open Data portal. They contain the data found in the figures and tables in this section of the CMR.
Instructions: Use the table below to search for datasets available on Open Data that are related to this section of the CMR. When you have found the dataset, go to the Find a CMR Dataset page and download the workbook Data - Comms Overview. Search for the ‘tab name’ in the Excel workbook tabs to locate the data.
|M-I1||Highlights of the communications sector|
|M-I2||Communications revenues by region ($ billion)|
|M-I3||Service penetration and availability highlights|
|M-I4||Industry convergence - cable-based carriers versus incumbent TSPs|
|M-F1||Telecommunications and broadcasting revenues ($ billion)|
|M-F2||Annual communications revenue growth rates (%)|
|M-F3||Distribution of communication revenues ($ billions)|
|M-F4||Communications revenues by type and service provider ($ billion)|
|M-F5||Mobile subscribers by type of service and population (million)|
|M-F6||Subscribers by type of service and number of households (million)|
|M-F7||Percent of total revenues, by broadcasting and telecommunications ownership groups (%)|
|M-F8||Cable-based carriers' wireline revenues, by service type ($ billion)|
|M-F9||EBITDA margins achieved by cable-based carriers, incumbent TSPs, and other service providers (%)|
|M-T1||Percentage of broadcasting and telecommunications revenues generated by companies operating in multiple sectors|
Grouping of companies by ownership
For reporting purposes, some metrics utilize company groupings whereby revenues are aggregated across affiliated companies (e.g. see Figure 1.7 Percent of total revenues, by broadcasting and telecommunications ownership group (%)).
The Atlantic Provinces include New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The North refers to the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.
The Prairies include Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Nationally licensed services such as discretionary and on-demand television services as well as direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting distribution unit (BDU) services (i.e. satellite television), are not included in regional breakdowns.
Estimates were made for companies that were not required to provide provincial and territorial telecommunications data.
The broadcasting sector consists of radio (private and CBC/SRC), conventional television (private and CBC/SRC), discretionary and on-demand television services (pay, pay-per-view [PPV], video-on-demand [VOD] and specialty services) and BDUs, such as cable, satellite and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) distributors. It excludes non-commercial and over-the-top (OTT) service data.
The telecommunications sector includes local, long distance, data, private line, mobile and Internet services.
Broadcasting data collection
Statistical and financial data is sourced from annual returns provided by commercial and CBC/SRC radio stations, conventional television stations, discretionary services, and on-demand services for the broadcast year which ended August 31, 2019.
CBC/SRC revenues include parliamentary appropriations for conventional television.
Annual returns for the broadcast year ending 31 August 2019 were required to be filed with the Commission by 30 November 2019. Data received subsequent to the compilation date is not reflected in this publication. The data reported for previous years has been updated to reflect any additional or adjusted information received by the Commission after the 31 August date for prior years’ publications.
Pursuant to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-86, the term “discretionary services” now encompasses all currently licensed pay, specialty and discretionary services, while the term “on-demand service” now encompasses all licensed pay-per-view and video-on-demand services.
Media Technology Monitor (MTM)
MTM measures Canadians’ media technology adoption and use at two points in time to monitor changes in media penetration and use over the year. Telephone interviews are conducted with a regionally representative sample of Canadians who have a landline telephone service and those who rely solely on cell phone service. The fall survey includes 8,000 Canadian adults (4,000 Anglophones and 4,000 Francophones). Of those 8,000 respondents, 2,976 have also completed an online survey introduced in the fall. An independent sample of 4,000 Canadians (2,000 Anglophones and 2,000 Francophones) is surveyed in the spring.
The CMR uses data collected from the fall survey unless stated otherwise.
“Watching television on any platform” refers to any form of television viewership, regardless of the chosen television medium. This includes, but is not restricted to, BDU-subscribed television, private conventional television, and Internet-based television services. The content can be viewed on any platform such as tablets, cellphones, Internet-connected television, or any other device.
BDU revenues refers to revenues from basic and non-basic services and exclude Internet-based service revenues (e.g. Netflix) and telecommunications service revenues (e.g. Internet access or telephony) but include IPTV services (e.g. Bell Fibe and Telus Optik TV).
Broadcasting revenues include reported revenues for commercial services (private commercial radio, private commercial television, discretionary and on-demand services, and broadcasting BDU services such as cable, DTH and IPTV). Broadcasting revenues also include revenues from CBC radio and television services but exclude other non-commercial radio and television, and over-the-top (OTT) service data.
Cable-based carriers are former cable monopolies that also provide telecommunications services (e.g. wireline voice, Internet, data and private line, and wireless services). Examples of cable-based carriers include Rogers, Shaw, and Videotron.
Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) measures the average rate at which a value grows over a certain period of time assuming the value has been compounding over that time period.
Convergence refers to services that were previously separate, such as voice, data, audio and video, being distributed over the same network, to share resources and to interact with each other.
Direct-to-home (DTH) refers to satellite service providers.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is a metric used to measure financial performance. EBITDA margin is expressed as a percentage of total revenues.
An Incumbent Telecommunications Service Provider (TSP) is a company that provides local telecommunications services on a monopoly basis prior to the introduction of competition. Examples of incumbent TSPs include Bell, SaskTel and TELUS. They also include small incumbent TSPs such as Sogetel and Execulink.
Internet protocol television (IPTV) refers to services such as Bell Fibe and Telus Optik TV, but excludes Internet-based services such as Netflix, Crave and Club Illico.
Other facilities-based carriers refers to providers of telecommunications services that are not incumbent providers but which own and operate telecommunications networks. Examples of other facilities-based carriers include Xplornet and Allstream Business.
A reserve refers to land set aside by the federal government through the Indian Act or through treaties for the use of a specific band or First Nation. The band council has "exclusive user rights" to the land, but the land is "owned" by the Crown. The Indian Act states that this land cannot be owned by individual band members.
Telecommunications revenues include reported revenues from local, long distance, data, private line, mobile and Internet services.
Wholesale-based service providers or non-facilities-based service carriers refers to companies that 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 number of facilities but has the vast majority of its operations on leased facilities may also be classified as non-facilities-based. Examples of wholesale-based service providers and non-facilities-based carriers include Distributel and TekSavvy.
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