The telecommunications industry in Canada provides an important service for the country’s over 38 million inhabitants. The industry plays a vital role in connecting Canadians through a range of services, including phone, internet, wireless, satellite, and cable. In addition, the industry is a key part of the Canadian economy, contributing billions of dollars to the country’s GDP every year.

In this article, we explore the key statistics about the telecommunications industry in Canada. You will find information on the industry revenues, contribution to the GDP, employment, and coverage among other key data about this dynamic and rapidly changing industry.

Telecommunications Industry Statistics for Canadians

  • The telecommunications services industry generated $53.4 billion in revenue in 2020.
  • Over 650,000 people work in the telecommunications industry in Canada.
  • At the end of 2021, 99.7% of Canadians had mobile coverage.
  • Over 91% of Canadian households had access to high-speed broadband by the end of 2021.
  • Over 80% of Canadians had a smartphone by the end of 2020.
  • In the third quarter of 2022, Canadians used on average 6.07GB of data per mobile subscription.
  • 50GB data plans were 26% cheaper in 2021 than the year before.
  • Canada has nine LTE networks which is more than, for example, the US or Japan.
  • The mobile network in Canada offers the highest quality among G20 countries.
  • Canada’s rural areas have faster download speeds than, for example, the US or Germany.

The Canadian Telecommunications Industry

The telecommunications industry is a sector of the Canadian economy that provides services related to the exchange and transmission of information over wired and wireless networks. The information exchanged includes voice, data, and video information. Companies within the industry provide services such as the Internet, telephone, television, and wireless communication to individuals and businesses.

The Canadian telecommunications industry is regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC ensures that all Canadians have access to telecommunication services. They also promote competition and protect consumers.

Revenue and GDP

According to Statista, the Canadian telecommunications industry generated approximately $53.4 billion in revenue in 2020. While this is still a significant amount, it was down by about $800 million from the year before. According to the Canadian Telecommunications Association, the industry’s direct GDP contribution was close to $75 billion in 2021.

The wireless sector contributed the most to the telecommunications industry. In 2020, 53% or $27.9 billion of the total telecommunications revenue in Canada came from the wireless sector.

The second largest sector is fixed internet services, with a 26% share of the telecommunications market revenue, representing $14.1 billion of the total. Local access services revenue was $5.9 billion, data $3.1 billion, long-distance $1.3 billion, and private line services $1.1 billion.

Five Largest Providers Account for Almost 90% of Total Revenues

In 2020, the five largest telecommunication service providers accounted for 86.9% of the total industry revenues. The largest providers in Canada are Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, and Quebecor.

Employment

The telecommunications industry is a key employment sector in Canada. In 2021, over 650,000 Canadians found employment within the industry. The wired and wireless telecommunication sector, which is the biggest contributor to Canada’s GDP, employed 102,309 people in 2022.

Average Salaries in the Telecommunications Industry

According to Statistics Canada, the average weekly earnings in the Canadian telecommunications industry were $1,200 in 2018. By 2022, the average weekly salary had climbed to $1,574, which is $81,851 per year. According to the recruitment website Talent, the median salary in the industry is $66,196. Their median is based on 583 salaries.

The salaries in the telecommunications industry have been consistently higher than in the service industry on the whole, where the weekly average was $1,110 in 2022.

The salaries within the industry vary depending on location, experience, and role. While entry-level workers can expect to earn around $50,000 on average, the most experienced employees can make on average $141,298 per year.

Over 40% of The Telecommunications Industry Employees Have a University Degree

The number of people working in the telecommunications industry who have a university degree has increased over the years. In 2001, 26.3% of the industry’s employees had a university degree compared to 41.8% in 2021.

Women Make up Less Than 20% of Telecommunications Directors

The telecommunications industry is still very male-dominated, especially at the top. In 2019, only 19.4% of directors in the industry were women, while the overall percentage of women was 31.5%.

Accessibility

Canada is one of the best-connected countries in the world. 99.7% of Canadians had mobile coverage at the end of 2021. The CRTC has set a target for 100% of the population to have access to the national mobile network by 2026 and they are likely to meet this target. The aim is also to include as many highways and major roads in the covered areas as well. At the end of 2021, 87.2% of highways and major roads had mobile coverage.

Another target set by the CRTC is to enable 98% of Canadian households to access a high-speed broadband connection by the end of 2026 and 100% of households by 2031. The target for 2021 was 90% of households and this was exceeded with 91.4% of all households having access to high-speed broadband by the end of that year.

While the coverage overall is great, it is still far from even with the Northern communities, rural areas, and First Nations reserve areas having lower rates of access. In the North, the rate was 49.3%, rural areas had a coverage of 62%, and First Nations reserve areas of just 43.3%. However, the coverage in these areas has improved. For example, in 2021, 62% of rural areas had access to high-speed connections compared to 40.7% in 2018.

Smartphone Adoption in Canada

84.4% of Canadians had a smartphone in 2020, with the younger generations having higher smartphone adoption rates. 96.5% of 25-44-year-old Canadians had a smartphone in 2020, and among 15-24-year-olds the share was 96.3%. The least likely age group (from 15 years up) were Canadians aged 65 and over. Only 54.1% of this age group had a smartphone in 2020.

Subscriptions to Telecommunication Services

The demand for telecommunication services in Canada continues to grow year-on-year. In the third quarter of 2022, there were 12.38 million residential wireless internet subscriptions, which was 3.3% higher than in the third quarter of 2021. During the same period, the number of mobile phone subscriptions grew by 5%, and in the third quarter of 2022, there were 34.6 million mobile phone subscriptions in Canada.

Use of Mobile and Internet Data in Canada

Canadians are using more mobile data than before. In the third quarter of 2022, the average data use was 6.07GB per subscription, which was an increase of 19.2% from the year before. Broadband data consumption also increased by 92.6% between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2022. It was 204.8GB in 2019 and 394.4GB in 2022. In 2016, the monthly average was just 1.5GB.

Mobile Service Plans Have Become Cheaper

According to the CRTC, the cost of mobile service plans has decreased in Canada. In 2021, the cost of 2GB of data was 41% less than five years previously. The cost of 5GB of data had declined by 44% in five years. 10GB plan prices were 19% lower than two years previously, while the cost of 20GB of data had decreased by 9% and 50 GB of data by 26% in one year.

How Canada Compares Globally

Canada’s government policies encourage competition within the telecommunications industry, and this has led to Canada becoming a global leader in the provision of mobile wireless networks. There are nine long-term evolution (LTE, often referred to as 4G) networks in Canada.

The United States, despite having a much larger population, has only eight and Japan five. In the number of 5G networks, Canada is in second place after the United States. In the US, there are eight 5G networks and in Canada six. Italy comes third with five. Japan, France, and the United Kingdom all have four.

Canada’s Mobile Network is the Most Expensive Among G20 Countries

Canada has the most expensive mobile wireless infrastructure among the G20 countries, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. The cheapest networks are in Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and India.

However, with the high cost comes excellent quality. Canada ranks number one among the G20 countries for network quality. It is followed by Korea, Japan, and Australia. The lowest quality network is in Mexico, then Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Canada also has 62.9% faster download speeds than the average for the G20 countries. The download speeds are 89.9% faster than the global median download speeds. The average download speeds in Canada have risen from 28.4 Mbps to 258.8 Mbps between 2015 and 2021. At the same time, upload speeds increased from 5.4 Mbps to 106.4 Mbps.

Canada’s Rural Areas Have Better Download Speeds

While the rural areas in Canada are not yet covered as well as urban areas, the download speeds in Canada’s rural parts are better than, for example, in the US, Brazil, Australia, or Germany. The download speeds are between 16.2% and 27% faster than in Australia, Germany, or the US and 2.5 times faster than in Brazil’s rural areas.

Summary

The telecommunications industry in Canada is an industry that is growing each year. In 2020, the revenue generated by the industry was over $53 billion and in 2021, it contributed almost $75 billion to Canada’s GDP.

The industry employs over 650,000 Canadians and the average salary is over $66,000. There is more work to be done within the industry to make it a more diverse employer. For example, women occupy less than 20% of directorial posts in the industry.

As well as its significant contribution to the Canadian economy through revenue, the industry is also vital in connecting Canadians. At the end of 2021, 99.7% of Canadians had mobile coverage. The CRTC aims to offer all Canadians access to the national mobile network by 2026.

Canada compares favourably against other countries and has more networks than, for example, the US, Australia, or the UK. It has the most expensive but also the highest-quality telecommunications infrastructure among the G20 countries.

Frequently Asked Questions

The telecommunications industry in Canada is a constantly growing industry which makes a significant contribution to the country’s economy. It offers employment to over 650,000 Canadians, generated a revenue of over $53 billion in 2020, and contributed almost $75 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2021.

Five service providers dominate the telecommunications industry in Canada: Bell Canada, Telus Corporation, Rogers Communications, Shaw, and Quebecor. Together, these five companies generated 86.9% of the industry’s revenue in 2020.

Canada does very well compared to other countries. Because the Canadian government through the CRTC promotes competition in the industry, the country has nine long-term evolution networks, also known as 4G. In contrast, the US has eight.

The average download speed in Canada is over 60% faster than the average in the other G20 countries and it is almost 90% faster than the global median download speed. Canadians living in rural areas have better access to fast and reliable networks compared to those living in rural areas in other G20 countries.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates the telecommunications industry in Canada. It works to ensure that all Canadians have access to telecommunications services and also to protect consumers. The CRTC also aims to promote fair competition within the industry.

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