Wireless Prices Declining as Canadians Use More Data, New CRTC Report Shows

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Report also shows industry on track to reach 100% of Canadian population with mobile coverage by 2026

OTTAWA, ON – June 6, 2022 – Canadians are using mobile wireless services more than ever while the price of service plans continues to decrease year over year, according to new data published by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC report, published as part of a quarterly update to its Communications Market Reports, also shows that as of the end of 2020, Canada’s mobile wireless networks provide mobile coverage to 99.7% of Canadians, including 98.9% of Canadians living in Northern Canada and 98.5% of rural Canadians.

The expanding network coverage is largely due to the billions of dollars that Canadian facilities-based mobile wireless service providers invest each year in advanced wireless networks, including $3.45 billion in capital expenditures and $8.9 billion in spectrum licenses in 2021. It is thanks to these continuing investments that the industry remains on track to meet the CRTC’s target of 100% mobile coverage in homes, businesses and on as many major transportation roads as possible by December 2026.

Key findings:

Prices for mobile services are decreasing

  • As an ever-increasing number of consumers switch to large data plans, the prices of those plans continue to decrease.
  • Plans with 2GB and 5GB of mobile data declined by 41% and 44% respectively over the past five years. 10GB plans declined by 19% over 2 years, while 20GB and 50GB plans declined by 9% and 26% respectively in just one year.
Graphic: Percentage (%) decline in lowest reported average price/month for plans with above referenced data allotment over the referenced period. 2GB plan with at least 1200 talk minutes and 300 SMS. All other plans with unlimited talk and SMS.

Consumption of mobile data continues to increase:

  • In the last quarter of 2021, the average data subscriber used 5.3GB of data per month, up 39.7% from the previous year and a 238% increase over five years.
Graphic: Average monthly data usage per mobile wireless data subscriber in GB since 2016.

Goal of reaching 100% population with mobile coverage by 2026 is on track

  • Despite Canada’s huge land mass and widely dispersed population, the vast majority of Canadians have mobile coverage.
  • The industry remains on track to meet the CRTC’s target of 100% mobile coverage in homes, businesses and on as many major transportation roads as possible by December 2026.
Graphic: Percentage (%) of homes, businesses, and major transportation roads with mobile coverage at end of 2020.

Mobile network operators continue to invest heavily in network expansion and enhancement:

  • In 2021, facilities-based mobile wireless service providers invested $3.45 billion in capital expenditures to expand and enhance their wireless networks. This is on top of the $9.25 billion invested in their fixed high-speed broadband networks and the $8.9 billion spent in acquiring licenses to use the 3500 MHz radiofrequencies for future 5G services.

“The CRTC has confirmed what has already been reported by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and that has been clear to industry watchers for several years: mobile wireless service prices have been steadily declining, and usage of mobile services continues to grow,” said Robert Ghiz, President and CEO of CWTA. “Even as prices decline and usage soars, Canada’s telecom network operators continue to invest billions each year in expanding Canada’s digital infrastructure to underserved communities and ensuring Canada maintains its global leadership in quality of service by deploying next-generation technologies such as 5G. As the COVID pandemic has highlighted, Canada’s economic well-being, safety and quality of life depend on high-quality digital infrastructure. Making world-class telecommunications services available to all Canadians at affordable prices remains the focus of our members.”

The CRTC report, entitled, “Current Trends – Mobile Wireless” is the latest quarterly update of the CRTC’s Communications Market Reports and was published on May 26, 2022. It can be found here.

About CWTA:
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is the authority on wireless issues, developments, and trends in Canada. It represents companies that provide services and products across the wireless sector. CWTA and its members are dedicated to maintaining Canada’s leadership in wireless communications and ensuring that all Canadians enjoy the benefits of advanced wireless connectivity. CWTA also administers initiatives on behalf of its members, including corporate social responsibility programs and the national common short codes program.

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