The Communications industry in Canada

The communications industry is an important contributor to Canada’s economy. In 2016, overall communications industry revenues reached CA$66.6 billion. Canadian telecommunications revenues reached almost CA$48.7 billion and the sector invested almost CA$12 billion in capital expenditures. The broadcasting sector reported approximately CA$17.9 billion in revenues in 2016. Canada continues to be one of the most ‘wired’ countries in the world:

  • Virtually all Canadians have access to voice and broadband Internet access services, and mobile wireless services with voice and Internet functionalities.
  • Although down almost 10 percentage points from historical levels, approximately 76 percent of Canadian households subscribe to cable, IPTV and DTH satellite service providers.
  • 95 percent of Canadians watch television, or Internet video services and programming.
  • 84 percent of Canadian households have access to high-speed Internet, defined as fixed broadband Internet access service with a downstream rate of at least 50 Mbps and an upstream rate of 10 Mbps.
  • 80 percent of English-speaking Canadians own a smartphone and more than 98 percent have access to LTE networks.
  • Approximately 25 million Canadians subscribe to mobile broadband service.
  • Canadians spend more than half their time online on mobile devices.
  • The average Canadian household spends more than CA$200 every month on communications services.

Historically, the various sectors of the communications industry were characterized by monopoly or near-monopoly supply, or were subject to highly restrictive market access conditions for policy reasons related to the preservation of Canadian identity and the protection of domestic cultural industries. Over the past 25 years, most of these have been opened up to competition. With the advent of competition, nearly all sectors have been deregulated, subject to targeted regulation to address specific policy objectives. The particularities of the Canadian system, along with the ways in which government and regulatory actors are attempting to address the emergence of the Internet and increasing convergence, are discussed in more detail below.

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