Canada is a leader online

Last week, I wrote a piece that looked at a portion of the data released in December by the Pew Research Center.

A media release from CWTA looks at the Pew data, as well as recent data from the CRTC and Statistics Canada. In its release, “Canadians among global leaders in internet usage and smartphone ownership”, CWTA observes that the latest Canadian government data shows Canadians usage of the internet and smartphones has increased, while the cost of connectivity has declined.

The data from Pew shows that smartphone ownership in Canada continues to grow, and is in line with other surveyed countries.

The study also shows that smartphone ownership in Canada is similar to levels seen in other surveyed countries, with 98% of surveyed Canadians between the ages of 18-29 and 95% of those aged 30-49 owning a smartphone. As with other surveyed countries, the rate of smartphone ownership among Canadians aged 50 or more is lower than in younger age groups, with 72% those in the 50-plus age group reporting smartphone ownership.

This difference in smartphone ownership between age groups is an indication that there are factors other than cost that influence smartphone adoption, such as degree of digital literacy or lack of interest.

CRTC data released this week shows the average Canadian residential internet subscriber downloaded more than 4 times as much data in 2022 than in 2015. The average volume of data downloaded increased from 93.1 GB per month in 2015 to 394.4 GB in the third quarter of 2022. In the same period, subscribed data download speeds have increased by almost an order of magnitude, jumping from 28.5 Mbps in 2015 to 258.8 Mbps in 2021. Upload speeds have increased from 5.4 Mbps to 106.4 Mbps over the same period.

Coupled with these substantial improvements in performance, Statistics Canada data shows that the internet access component of the Consumer Price Index has fallen 1%, as contrasted with a 21% increase in the overall CPI. So, the average consumer is paying roughly the same price today as they were 7 years ago, despite six times the usage and 10-20 times the speeds.

On the mobile side, Statistics Canada data shows that the cellular services component of the CPI has fallen 32% between December 2018 and December 2022, while the overall CPI has increased 15% in that same period. Over that time frame, the CRTC shows that cellular data traffic grew from 2.3 GB per month to 6.07 GB per month, more than two and a half times as much data while prices fell by a third. Using data released this week from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, CWTA says “Mobile wireless network performance also increased significantly over this time, with the average download speed experienced by Canadian mobile users almost tripling from 46.31 Mbps to 125.34 Mbps from 2018 to 2022.”

CWTA President and CEO Robert Ghiz said,

Canada is among the world leaders in the adoption and use of the internet and smartphones. And while the consumption and performance of connectivity services continues to grow, prices are trending downward, while most everything else that is critical to Canadians is getting more expensive. These positive outcomes, together with the billions being invested each year by network operators to expand and enhance Canada’s digital infrastructure, are strong evidence of the benefits of facilities-based competition and the need for a stable regulatory environment that will allow these positive trends to continue.

The facts are clear.

Data from independent and government sources show that Canadians are getting far more value from their mobile and internet connections, contributing factors to why Canada remains a leader in online connectivity.

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