The evolution of broadband services

Figures from the CRTC show that the number of broadband subscriptions in Canada have only been growing at a rate of 3.3% per year on a base of 12 million.

Between 2018 and 2021, the number of households in Canada grew by about 440,000.

In other words, broadband subscription growth is largely attributable to growth in the total number of households (population growth and immigration) and new construction in rural and remote areas.

The overwhelming majority of households that have access to broadband already subscribe to a broadband service. Growth in the industry is fuelled by consumers choosing to subscribe to higher speed services, as can be seen in CRTC data:

In the first quarter of 2021, there were 3.6M broadband subscriptions with download speeds less than 50 Mbps, and 8.1M subscriptions over 50 Mbps, including 0.8M with speeds over 940 Mbps. In the third quarter of 2022, just a year and a half later, there were just 3.1M subscriptions with download speeds of less than 50 Mbps and 9.2M with speeds over 50 Mbps, including 1.7M with speeds over 940 Mbps.

Over an 18 month span, we saw market growth of 600,000, while nearly double than number went into service speeds of more than 50 Mbps. Half a million households migrated from slower speed services to services delivering speeds over 50 Mbps. More than a million subscribers migrated to gigabit speeds.

Consumers are choosing faster speed services as households change the way we use our connectivity, and as prices for premium connectivity have become more affordable.

Growth in the broadband market is being driven by investment in physical facilities: upgrading existing service areas to gigabit speeds, and expanding service territories.

The data demonstrates an interesting transition in the broadband marketplace as overall subscriber growth slows. I’ll take a deeper look at some implications of this market trend next week.

Canada’s future depends on connectivity; enhanced and advanced connectivity that depends on investment.

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