Bytes over bites: How Canada’s telecom providers are defying shrinkflation

In a world of shrinking products – from smaller candy bars to fewer chips in a bag – Canada’s telecom industry is moving against the tide. While shrinkflation provides consumers with less bang for their buck, Canada’s telecommunications providers are delivering more data, faster speeds, and broader coverage, all at lower prices.

Shrinkflation

Shrinkflation is a tactic where companies reduce the size or weight of their products without a corresponding reduction in price. For example, a 2kg package of sugar is reduced to 1.5kg, or a box of tissues contains less tissues, without the price being reduced. Sometimes more expensive ingredients are replaced with cheaper ingredients of lesser quality.

Canadians have not taken kindly to the practice. In a recent Ipsos poll of consumers in 33 countries, 64% of Canadians surveyed called the practice unacceptable, a figure that is 16% higher than the global country average and trails only France and Turkey.

Telecom: The Exception to the Rule

In a world of shrinkflation, Canada’s telecom sector stands apart.

  • Lower prices – more data

    While prices for most things have increased, prices for both home internet and wireless services are declining. According to Statistics Canada, overall consumer price inflation has risen by 18.5% over the last five years, but prices for cellular services have decreased by an average of over 47% and prices for internet access services have decreased by an average of nearly 8% during the same period.

    For example, according to the Government of Canada’s annual telecom price study, in 2019 the average price of a wireless plan that offered 1GB of data (and 1200 call minutes and 300 texts) was approximately $65 per month (or approximately $75 in today’s dollars). Today, for $65, a consumer can get a plan that offers 75GB of 5G data and unlimited talk and text Canada-wide, with no overage fees. This amounts to a 98.6% decline in price per GB (without factoring in additional savings attributable to unlimited talk and text and zero overage charges). Smaller data plans are also available, like 30GB wireless plans for $34 and $50 for 60GB, which offer more data at lower prices than what was available just a few years ago.

  • Faster Speeds

    If you check the label on your favourite packaged good you may find that one or more ingredients have been switched for a cheaper and lower quality ingredient. The opposite is the case in telecom. Though prices are declining, the quality of service has steadily increased. For example, the average mobile data download speeds in Canada have increased by 90% over 5 years1 and fixed broadband download speeds by nearly 400%2. With faster speeds, Canadians can stream movies, play games online, and join video conferences while on the go.

  • More coverage.

    While other industries are shrinking the size of their products, Canada’s telecom providers are steadily expanding the coverage of their wireless and fixed networks, with the vast majority of Canadians now having access to mobile wireless and high-speed internet services. And with investments being made in new innovations like cellular-to-satellite communications, Canadians will soon be able to connect from even the most remote parts of Canada.

Why is the Canadian telecommunications sector different?

  • Intense competition

    The fierce battle for subscribers keeps telecom providers on their toes. Consumers have choices, and vote with their wallets. If a provider does not offer the best value to its customers, they will move to a provider that does. In fact, last year millions of Canadians switched to a different service provider or changed their plan with their existing service provider.

  • The latest technology

    Unlike industries that are reducing the size or quality of their products, competition within the telecom sector requires service providers to constantly invest in the latest technological advancements. Whether it is moving from 3G to 4G to 5G technology in wireless or investing in fibre and next generation cable in fixed broadband, Canada’s telecom sector invests billions of dollars each year to maintain Canada’s status as having among the best telecom networks in the world.

  • Consumer demand

    While eating more chips and chocolate bars will add inches to your waistline, consuming more mobile and internet data is calorie free. And Canadians are indulging. The average Canadian subscriber is consuming close to 30% more mobile and internet data each year, and the telecom sector is meeting this demand without increasing prices.

The Bottom Line

While other industries are shrinking their products, the telecom sector is giving more, not less. By investing billions each year, it is providing Canadians with more data, faster speeds, and wider coverage, all at lower prices.

So, the next time you sip your coffee from a smaller cup or unwrap a shrunken candy bar, remember this: Telecom isn’t playing the shrinkflation game.

1 Open Signal, State of Mobile Networks from Aug 2019 to Aug 23
2 CRTC, Communications Market Report, Open Data — Retail fixed Internet

Fraud Prevention Month 2024: How to Stay Safe Online and on Your Mobile Devices

March is Fraud Prevention Month, an annual campaign helping Canadians recognize, reject, and report fraud. This year’s theme, “20 Years of Fighting Fraud: From Then to Now,” highlights the evolving landscape of fraud, especially with the increasing use of technology. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), Canadians lost $567 million to fraud in 2023 — an increase of $37 million from the previous year and $187 million since 2021. Despite these rising financial losses, only 5% to 10% of fraud cases are reported.

The Technology Challenge

One of the primary reasons fraudsters succeed is that many Canadians are unaware of the risks and best practices when using mobile devices and the internet. While smartphones, tablets, and other devices offer convenience and power, they expose us to various types of cybercrime, including phishing, malware, identity theft, and SIM swapping. Additionally, the vast expanse of the internet provides both information and pitfalls, making it crucial for users to stay informed and vigilant.

Protecting Yourself and Your Data

To safeguard yourself against these threats, consider the following tips and utilize the provided resources:

  1. Secure Your Mobile Device:
    • Download from Trusted Sources: Only install applications from reputable app stores (such as Google Play or Apple App Store). Avoid third-party sources, as they may host malicious apps.
    • Strong Authentication: Use a robust password or biometric authentication (such as fingerprint or face recognition) to lock your device. This prevents unauthorized access.
    • Encryption and Remote Wipe: Enable device encryption and set up remote wipe features. If your device is lost or stolen, you can remotely erase its data.
    • Public Wi-Fi Caution: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions (e.g., banking or shopping). These networks are susceptible to eavesdropping.
    • VPN Protection: Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to encrypt your data and enhance privacy.
  2. Beware of Phishing and Spam:
    • Verify Sender Identity: Avoid unsolicited emails, texts, or calls. These communications are becoming increasingly sophisticated and often appear legitimate at first glance. Verify the sender’s identity before responding or clicking on links.
    • Avoid Suspicious Links: Delete any messages that ask you to update account information or validate details. Legitimate organizations won’t request sensitive data via email.
    • Think Before You Click: Hover over links to check their destination before clicking. Be wary of unexpected attachments.
  3. Protect Your Identity:
    • Guard Personal Information: Never share sensitive details (such as Social Insurance Number, passwords, or banking information) with unknown or untrusted sources.
    • Shred Documents: Dispose of physical documents containing personal information by shredding them.
    • Monitor Your Credit: Regularly review your credit reports and bank statements for unusual activity.
    • Report Lost or Stolen IDs: If your passport, driver’s license, or other identification documents are lost or stolen, report them promptly to the relevant authorities.
  4. Educate friends and family: Some people have different digital skills than you do, and some may be more susceptible to falling for scams. Take a moment to teach them the dos and don’ts for staying safe online and using their mobile device.

Resources and Reporting

  • Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC): Visit the CAFC website for comprehensive information and resources on fraud prevention.
  • Stay Updated: Follow the CAFC on X/Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and alerts related to fraud.
  • Report Incidents: If you become a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to your local police and the CAFC online or toll-free at 1-888-495-8501. Even if the fraud did not result in financial loss, report it to CAFC.

Remember, the best defense against fraud is awareness. Recognize, reject, and report any suspicious activity promptly. Stay safe online and protect your data!

For additional tips on how to protect your data, visit us at https://canadatelecoms.ca/consumer_resource/protect-your-data/

You are not alone. Launch of the 988: Suicide Crisis Helpline

In a significant step toward supporting mental health and well-being across our nation, the 988: Suicide Crisis Helpline launched today.

The Canadian telecommunications industry is pleased to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and its network partners in the provision of this vital new phone and text service.

By utilizing an easy to remember three-digit number, the 9-8-8 helpline is designed to provide urgent, live support to anyone in Canada who is experiencing thoughts of suicide or is concerned about someone they know. Accessible via phone or text, the service operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, in both English and French. This toll-free helpline, supported by CAMH, is a testament to the collaborative efforts of nearly 40 crisis lines nationwide, which together provide culturally appropriate, lifesaving support to people in crises.

Suicide prevention is the primary focus of the new 9-8-8 crisis helpline, but no one who reaches out using 9-8-8 will be turned away. Trained 9-8-8 responders are equipped to handle a range of crises, ensuring that every person contacting the helpline receives the support they need.

Our members are honored to support the launch of the national 988: Suicide Crisis Helpline, and to contribute to a network of connection that spans the entire country.

For more information and what to expect when calling or texting 9-8-8, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, please visit 988.ca.

New Accenture report highlights the importance of digital transformation and connectivity to achieving Canada’s sustainability goals and fighting climate change

The need for a sustainable economy that provides a good quality of life while also protecting the planet is a concern for everyone. Canada’s current approach to sustainability focuses largely on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the adoption of renewables and developing alternative energy sources.

While important, these steps will not be enough to meet Canada’s sustainability goals and must be complemented by other measures.

In 2020, Accenture published Accelerating 5G in Canada: The Role of 5G in the Fight Against Climate Change. It focused on the role 5G serves in making Canada’s wireless networks more energy efficient, and its role in the creation of new innovative technologies that will help reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.

As a follow up to its 2020 white paper, Accenture has published a new report, Canada’s next sustainability frontier: Powering digital transformation with connectivity, that examines the importance of digital transformation to combating climate change and other environmental harms. In simple terms, digital transformation involves industries using data and technology to become more productive, while reducing waste and lowering energy consumption.

In examining how digital transformation can drive both productivity and sustainability, the report focuses on three of Canada’s most important industries, the Oil & Gas, Mining, and Agriculture sectors. Using potential use cases in these industries, Accenture illustrates how connected devices and sensors, along with technologies such as digital twins, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, can be used by businesses to operate more efficiently and safely, and in turn reduce energy and fuel consumption as well as produce less waste.

A few of the use cases highlighted in the report include:

  • the use of sensors and drones in predictive maintenance of oil rig equipment can significantly limit unnecessary downtime and energy consumption, while digital twin technology can help optimize drilling parameters and reduce wasted fuel use by 20%;
  • connected technologies can help manage mining tailings ponds 25% more efficiently and with a 90% decrease in environmental compliance safety incidents; and
  • water and fertilizer use in the agricultural sector can be reduced by 20-40% using sensors and drones to monitor crops.

Critically, each of these use cases requires advanced wireless and wireline networks to support the exponential growth in bandwidth, speed, simultaneous connections, and reliability needed to power the devices and technologies that enable digital transformation and greater sustainability.

But realizing the full benefits of this intersection of connectivity, industry modernization and sustainability will not happen without the right policies and collaboration. Accenture concludes that achieving the productivity and sustainability benefits of digital transformation depends on four key enablers:

  1. A regulatory approach that maintains incentives for Canada’s communications service providers to continue to invest in the expansion and enhancement of their wireline and wireless networks;
  2. Solution provider ecosystem collaboration and innovation to ensure that industry verticals have the devices and software that meet their digital transformation and business requirements;
  3. Embracing of digital transformation by industry verticals, including investing in the tools and processes needed to share data across their businesses, and developing and hiring workers with the necessary advanced skillsets; and
  4. An expansion of government approach to addressing environmental challenges, including extending incentives beyond clean technology investments and renewables to include incentives for digital transformation. This approach should also employ a strong emissions measurement strategy so both government and industry can focus on the specific type of digital transformations that have the largest impact.

Canada must look beyond renewables and alternative energy sources to meet its sustainability objectives. Canadian businesses must modernize and transform themselves, not only to become more productive and competitive, but also to reduce their impact on the environment. With Canada having some of the world’s most advanced telecommunication networks, now is the time for governments, communication service providers and industry verticals to leverage this connectivity advantage and work together to build a more sustainable Canada.

Download a copy of the new Accenture report here.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Robert Ghiz – President & CEO

Each year, September 30th marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, when we honour the Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities, and the children who never returned home.

Recognition of this tragic and painful history and reflection on its lasting impacts are an important part of the reconciliation process. But the advancement of reconciliation requires much more than an annual day of observance. It requires on-going and sustained action.

In keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, Canada’s telecommunications sector is engaged in relationship-building with Indigenous communities to support a range of initiatives. These include sustainable land and resource use, education funding, job creation, cultural awareness and community-led infrastructure projects.

We know that expanding and enhancing network coverage is key to the economic prosperity and social well-being of remote and Indigenous communities. That is why our members are working with Indigenous communities, together with different levels of government and Indigenous-led businesses, to build and improve telecommunications infrastructure.

While only a small sample, the following are examples of the type of projects and collaborations taking place across our country.

Through the industry-funded CRTC Broadband Fund, together with its own investments, Northwestel has embarked on a three-year plan to bring high-speed unlimited internet access to every community in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

As part of this project, Northwestel has partnered with thirteen Yukon First Nations development corporations to bring fibre-to-the-home service to eighteen Yukon communities. Under this model, the fibre assets that connect thousands of homes across the territory will be Indigenous-owned and will result in a guaranteed return on investment for Yukon First Nations over the next two decades.

In 2021, SaskTel launched its Rural Broadband Partnership Program, with the goal of partnering with smaller internet providers to bring advanced broadband connectivity to underserved areas of the province, including Indigenous communities.

Through this program, SaskTel has partnered with a new majority Indigenous-owned internet service provider, Beaver River Broadband, under which Beaver River Broadband will utilize portions of SaskTel’s network to deliver high quality internet service to underserved Indigenous and rural communities.

In British Columbia, Rogers is building new cell towers that will service the highway and communities along the route between Prince Rupert and Prince George, which has sadly become known as the Highway of Tears, and in doing so is fulfilling one of the recommendations of the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium report to enhance safety for Indigenous women and girls.

These are just a few examples of the numerous projects underway by Association members Bell, Rogers and Videotron, as well as smaller regional carriers, to improve connectivity in Indigenous and other communities across Canada, and in doing so delivering financial benefits, job creation and safer communities.

We know there is much more work to be done. And we all wish it could be done faster. But many underserved areas present the most challenging conditions for network building. It will require continued collaboration, commitment, and resourcefulness by service providers, governments, and local communities to connect all Indigenous communities. It will also require policies that foster ongoing investment in network building.

Ongoing collaboration will not only bring greater prosperity and quality of life to Indigenous communities, but also it will bring greater understanding of the history and perspectives of Indigenous people, build greater trust, and advance the process of reconciliation.

To learn more about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and how you can participate, visit National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Be Prepared: Important Steps You Can Take to Stay Connected During a Storm

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and snow and ice storms are becoming more commonplace, endangering Canadians, damaging property, and posing a risk to critical infrastructure, including telecommunications networks.

Telecom providers know that Canadians depend on them to stay connected, especially during an emergency. That is why they have made it a priority to strengthen their networks and make them more resilient in the face of extreme weather events and natural disasters.

But even with these preparations, extreme weather and other disasters can result in power outages, downed poles and cables, and other damage that can impact your use of internet and mobile phone services.

With Atlantic Canada preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Lee , now is a good time to review some important tips on preparing for potential power outages and other storm damage that can affect your use of telecommunications servicers.

The following tips and best practices can be found in the emergency preparedness document we released this spring, Preparing for Severe Weather Events & Other Emergencies, and are also available at telecomprepare.ca:

Before a storm:

  • Monitor the weather and be ready for emergency alerts.
  • Prepare for power outages by fully charging your devices.
  • Have backup power supply that can power essential communications equipment like your internet modem, Wi-Fi router, and cordless phone.
  • Determine if your phone or phone service rely on your home power supply and consider a backup power supply if they do.

During a storm and in the immediate aftermath:

  • Preserve device battery power, such as by reducing the screen brightness and turning off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location-based services when you don’t need them.
  • Help reduce network congestion by using SMS/texting or email to connect with others and do not use your mobile phone to make phone calls unless it is an emergency.
  • If you must make a phone call, keep your conversation as short as possible, and if your call is not connected wait at least 10 seconds before redialing.
  • Do not use mobile wireless networks for data-intensive uses, like streaming video or non-emergency related internet use.

When calling 9-1-1:

  • If you have a working landline phone and a mobile phone, use the landline phone to help reduce traffic on mobile networks.
  • Mobile phone service is designed for 9-1-1 calls to default to whatever wireless network is available, so calling 9-1-1 on your mobile phone may still be possible even if your service provider does not have an operational cell tower nearby or your phone does not have a SIM card.
  • 9-1-1 calls may take longer to connect due to increased network congestion following an emergency. If your call is not immediately connected, wait a few seconds to allow your device to make a connection. If your call is not connected, hang up and wait 10 seconds before redialing. Do not immediately redial.
  • If you are still unable to successfully place a 9-1-1 call, try removing or turning off your device’s SIM card. In rare circumstances, the presence of the SIM card may prevent your device from connecting to an alternative service provider’s network.

You can also find more tips on how to prepare for emergencies at the Government of Canada’s www.GetPrepared.ca website, and the websites of your provincial/territorial governments and local municipalities.

Celebrating 20 Years of the Canadian Common Short Code

Maybe it’s our vast geography – or maybe just our friendly nature – but Canadians have always demonstrated a strong desire to connect with one another across great distances and regardless of one’s chosen wireless provider. And this desire to connect has served as an important catalyst for technological innovation. After all, it was Canada that birthed the BlackBerry and led the mobile email revolution in the late 90s and early 2000s. And we were early adopters of Facebook, too.

It should come as no surprise then that Canadian wireless providers were among the first in the world to launch text messaging services – otherwise known as short messaging services (SMS) – in 1992. At the time, SMS was only available for use between customers from the same wireless provider. In April 2002, SMS interoperability became available to Canadians for the first time. Since then, Canadians have shown an appetite for using SMS to connect with others and for engagement outside of peer-to-peer communications, much of which today is done through Common Short Code (CSC) messaging.

This month marks 20 years since the launch of CSC messaging in Canada on July 11, 2003 – a pivotal moment for both Canadian and international companies looking to engage with Canadian consumers. By providing a standardized system that allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to send and receive text messages using short, memorable, 5- and 6-digit numbers, the new messaging service took mobile marketing into the mainstream and helped pave the way for so much more.

According to recent data from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), 64% of Canadians use texting to communicate with friends and family, ranking us first among the 13 countries surveyed. MEF also found 35% of Canadians said texting was how they prefer to hear from companies, ranking second.

These days, there are countless instances of organizations leveraging CSCs as a communications and engagement tool. For greater context, the number of active Short Codes in the Canadian market has grown 300% since 2008. The following are just a few examples of how different types of organizations are using CSCs today:

  • Retailers and restaurants use them to let customers track orders and deliveries.
  • Businesses of all sizes use them to book appointments, receive customer feedback, and provide technical support.
  • Governments at all levels use them to provide critical, time-sensitive information and public health notices, and to make it more convenient for citizens to access other services.
  • Charities have also harnessed the power of Short Codes, offering Canadians a quick and convenient way to donate to their favourite causes through the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada.

Later this year, Canada’s wireless service providers are supporting the launch of a new national texting program for mental health crisis and suicide prevention. The new program will be using 988 as the Short Code and will launch alongside a national hotline at the same three-digit number. The program will offer Canadians an avenue for obtaining potentially life-saving counselling, even if they are unable to call safely. *

Twenty years after its launch, the Canadian CSC messaging ecosystem continues to help connect Canadian businesses and organizations with their customers and supporters, even as the messaging space continues to evolve. One thing seems certain – Short Codes are here to stay!

* Mental health and suicide prevention help is still available in advance of the launch of 988 services this November. Currently, people in Canada who are experiencing mental health distress can obtain assistance through Talk Suicide Canada by dialing toll-free 1-833-456-4566. Residents of Quebec are encouraged to call 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553). Assistance is also available through text. Adults can text 741741 and youth can text 686868. Quebec residents can text 1-855-957-5353. Talk Suicide Canada’s text service is available in the evenings from 4:00 p.m. to midnight EST by texting 45645 (Standard text message rates may apply.)

A New Name for a New Era in Telecommunications in Canada

We recently announced the rebranding of our association, including changing our name from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association to the Canadian Telecommunications Association. In this post, we explore how the evolution of the telecommunications industry informed our decision to rebrand.

May 3 2023

Telecommunications has traditionally been thought of as two distinct services: wireless and wireline. Wireless telecommunications refer to services that are provided through wireless connections, such as mobile phones. Wireline, on the other hand, refers to services that are provided through wired connections, such as fibre and cable internet, as well as landline phones. In recent years we have seen a confluence of these services and the way they are used, driven in large part by the increasing demand for high-speed internet access.

With the rise of streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive applications, consumers are demanding faster and more reliable internet connections. To meet this demand, service providers are investing billions of dollars to expand and upgrade their access networks (the connections to customer homes and businesses), and their transport networks (the connections between all the nodes in their network infrastructure and the wireline, wireless and backbone IP networks that control the flow of data between the nodes). These upgrades provide faster speeds and greater capacity for both wired and wireless internet connections, creating a more seamless experience for customers.

The popularity and capability of mobile devices has also fueled the intersection of wired and wireless telecommunications. While mobile phones were initially used only for phone calls, people are now using smartphones and other mobile devices for everyday tasks, such as banking, shopping, looking up information, and entertainment. Telecommunications providers have responded by enabling more services that can be accessed on-the-go, including video-streaming, cloud storage, and other applications that were traditionally only possible through higher-speed wired connections. The deployment of 5G technology is further increasing the capabilities of wireless communications, making it suitable for use in mission critical use cases that require ultra-reliable and ultra low latency service.

Telecommunications service providers are also using wireless technology to extend the reach of their wireline networks. For example, some providers are providing wireless “last mile” connectivity to homes and businesses in areas where it is especially difficult to install a wired connection. This allows providers to offer high-speed internet access to more Canadians, helping to close the urban/rural digital divide.

New technologies and consumer demands have blurred the lines between the capabilities and use of wired and wireless telecommunications. Similarly, many of the policy priorities affecting wired and wireless telecommunications now overlap. With connectivity via wireless and wireline being equally important to Canadians, it became clear that we should expand our focus beyond wireless, to promote the importance of both wireless and wireline telecommunications to Canada’s economic growth and social development, and to advocate for policies that foster innovation, investment, and positive outcomes for consumers.

As has always been the case, our association continues to do more than advocate on behalf of the industry. We remain dedicated to building a better future for Canadians through both wireline and wireless connectivity. One way of doing so is to facilitate industry initiatives that make a difference in the lives of Canadians. These include the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada, STAC, and wirelessaccesibility.ca.

Canada’s future depends on connectivity, and we are excited about this new chapter in our association’s history.