Telecommunications Sector Directly Contributes Nearly $77 Billion to Canada’s Economy and Supports Nearly 724,000 Jobs, According to New Report
PwC report also finds that Canadian telecom sector continues to outpace its international peers in investing to meet increasing consumer expectations for network quality, coverage, and resiliency while, at the same time, consumer prices for cellular and internet access services have declined by 17.2% and 7.8%, respectively, between September 2022 and September 2023.
TORONTO, ON – November 6, 2023 – Canadians’ growing reliance on connectivity has led to an increase in expectations for network quality, coverage, and resiliency.
In a report commissioned by the Canadian Telecommunications Association entitled Connecting Canadians through resilient networks: The impact of the telecom sector in 2022 and beyond, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows how Canada’s telecom sector is investing billions of dollars each year to meet these expectations and, in doing so, increasing its contributions to the Canadian economy.
The report finds that Canada’s six largest telecoms invested $13.3 billion in capital expenditures in 2022 to continue expanding, enhancing, and strengthening their world-class wireless and broadband networks. Over the past five years, the Canadian telecom sector has invested an annual average of $12.1 billion in capital on network infrastructure. This represents approximately 18.6% of average revenues, which is higher than the 14.2% average across the peer telecoms in the U.S.A., Japan, Australia, and Europe.
As the telecom sector continues to make significant capital investments in expanding high-quality networks, PwC observes that for the year ending September 2023, cellular and internet access service prices declined by 17.2% and 7.8%, respectively, while over the same period, the Consumer Price Index for All-Items increased by 3.8%.
In addition to investing in expanding coverage and increasing quality of telecom services, PwC estimates that Canada’s telecommunications sector directly contributed up to $76.7 billion to the national GDP and supported 724,000 Canadian jobs in 2022. It further estimates that the sector’s delivery of enhanced connectivity, including 5G, has the potential to contribute an additional $112 billion to Canada’s GDP by 2035.
The report also examines how climate change and an increase in severe weather events have resulted in millions of dollars in damage to telecommunications infrastructure. With the intensity and frequency of such events expected to increase, PwC concludes that ongoing private sector investment is needed not only to expand coverage but also to strengthen network infrastructure and prepare for such events.
“Canada’s telecom sector is making important contributions to the prosperity of Canada through contributions to GDP, jobs and investments, while vigorous competition among our national and regional service providers has resulted in a steady decline in cellular and internet access prices,” said Robert Ghiz, President and CEO of the Canadian Telecommunications Association. “But our work is not done. More investment in required to expand coverage and fund network resiliency. To achieve the required levels of investment, we need government policies that recognize the importance of investment and that maintain a stable regulatory environment that encourages private sector investment in network infrastructure.”
Key Finding from the Report:
- Direct GDP contribution and jobs supported by the telecommunications sector in 2022 is estimated to be $76.7 billion and 724,000 jobs (versus $74.9 billion (+2.4%) and 650,000 jobs in 2021 (+11.3%)*);
- Enhanced connectivity, including 5G, has the potential to contribute an additional $112 billion to Canada’s GDP by 2035
- Telecom’s direct GDP contribution includes $24.7 billion from the sector’s value chain and up to $52 billion in direct impact from increased sales and other outputs from other Canadian industries through the incremental addition of additional wireless and broadband connections;
- The six largest Canadian telecommunications operators invested $13.3 billion in capital expenditures in 2022 to continue expanding and enhancing their wireless and broadband internet networks;
- Over the past five years, Canada’s telecom sector has invested an average of $12.1 billion annually on network expansion and enhancements. This represents a capital intensity that is approximately 18.6% of average revenues, and which is higher than the 14.2% average across peer telecom operators in the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe;
- Continued investments in Canada’s telecom sector have connected more Canadians to advanced wireless and broadband internet networks that can support their increasing data consumption, power the digital economy and provide a range of other social and environmental benefits:
- 99.7% of Canadians had access to mobile network coverage where they lived or conducted business in 2021, including 87.8% who had access to 5G connectivity;
- 93.5% of households had access to high-speed internet with speeds meeting the CRTC’s 50/10 Mbps targets in 2022, and the CRTC estimates that services providers are on track to meet its broadband targets that 98% of households have access to 50/10 Mbps unlimited services in 2026 and 100% by 2030;
- The price of telecommunications in Canada has fallen over the past year, with cellular service prices down 17.2% and internet access service prices down 7.8% between September 2022 and September 2023, while the all-items Consumer Price Index increased by 3.8%;
- The telecommunications sector has already suffered millions of dollars in damages to Canadian network infrastructure as a result of severe weather events and other natural disasters. Canadian service providers are investing in building resilient networks to manage future risks.
“The telecom sector is an important part of the Canadian economy and will continue to be a critical enabler of the digital economy,” said John Simcoe, National Media & Telecom Lead at PwC Canada. “Canadian telecoms have built resilient networks, while providing Canadians with increased value. Ongoing network investment will be essential, as Canadians increasingly rely on connectivity, and as the frequency of severe weather events puts network infrastructure at risk.”
Connecting Canadians through resilient networks: The impact of the telecom sector in 2022 and beyond can be found at https://canadatelecoms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Connecting-Canadians-through-resilient-networks.pdf
*2021 figures based on previous Canadian Telecommunications Association commissioned report
About Canadian Telecommunications Association
The Canadian Telecommunications Association is dedicated to building a better future for Canadians through connectivity. Our members include service providers, equipment manufacturers, and other organizations in the telecommunications ecosystem, that invest in, build, maintain and operate Canada’s world-class telecommunications networks. Through our advocacy initiatives, research, and events, we work to promote the importance of telecommunications to Canada’s economic growth and social development and advocate for policies that foster investment, innovation, and positive outcomes for consumers. We also facilitate industry initiatives, such as the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada, Canadian Common Short Codes, STAC and wirelessaccessibility.ca
Canadian Telecommunications Association