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Canada - Telecoms, Wireless, Broadband and Forecasts

For those seeking high level strategic information and objective analysis on this region, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

  • Canada’s telecommunications infrastructure and NGN developments.
  • Forecast growth in select telecommunication markets.
  • The emerging trends and convergence in Canadian voice, broadband and digital TV sectors.
  • How Canada is faring in terms of global broadband development.
  • The current and emerging broadband technologies and their long-term projections.
  • The growth of wireless voice and data and the deployment of 3G and 4G technologies.
  • The emergence of smart grid and smart metering initiatives.


Although Canada’s telecommunications sector was among the most advanced in the world in the early 2000s, by 2010 Canada’s performance in areas such as broadband penetration and wireless penetration was trailing many of its OECD counterparts. In addition, while telecom services revenue growth has been exceeding GDP growth in recent years, it has so by only around threefold, a modest factor by comparison to global ratios of communications industry to GDP growth.

Despite slowing wireless subscriber growth, wireless revenues are being underpinned by strong wireless data revenue growth. Significantly, the launch by Bell Mobility and TELUS of their HSPA networks will further drive data use and will continue the paradigm shift from largely voice-centric to increasingly data-centric wireless services. In addition, five new operators are in the process of entering the market which should reinvigorate subscriber growth, at least in the budget segment of the market.

Furthermore, the deployment of new and the expansion of existing FttN networks will provide much-needed stimulus to the lacklustre broadband penetration levels and speeds. The government has also pledged to provide federal funding support, of up to 50% of costs, for successful applicants who are prepared to deploy a broadband network to rural Canadians.

Perhaps most significantly, in early 2010 the government announced the elimination of the foreign investment restrictions applicable to a number of economic sectors, including the satellite and telecommunications industries. The aim, generally speaking, is to open up access to capital and foreign investment for the Canadian telecommunications sector, which in turn should enable telecommunications providers to invest in and adopt new technologies faster than they would otherwise be able to.

Market highlights:Despite Canada’s comparatively low broadband penetration rate, by early 2010 there were positive signs of a growing momentum towards increased fibre deployments and DOCSIS upgrades. For instance, although Bell has pushed out is FttN target timelines, by early 2010 its FttN network was available to around 3 million homes with subscribers numbering half a million and increasing at around 50% per annum. Meanwhile in Western Canada, Telus has also been increasing the rate of its FttN deployment, achieving coverage of more than 75% of households in its top 50 communities.Cable telephony subscriber numbers of the four major cable companies combined are increasing by around 30% per annum reaching and by early 2010 this figure had grown to 3.2 million. As Canada has among the highest rates of cable broadband per capita, there remains significant scope for these companies to continue growing their new telephony businesses.Canada’s wireless penetration, in terms of subscribers per capita, continues to lag behind other G8 countries. With a national wireless penetration rate of around 70% in early 2010, Canada is still a long way behind the USA which has estimated penetration of over 90%.However, during 2010/11 there is likely to be resurgent subscriber growth following the entry of some five new players. Globalive’s Wind Mobile launched services over a 3G network in Toronto in December 2009, while newly created Public Mobile planned to launch mobile services in early-to-mid-2010. Another two, Dave Wireless’ Mobilicity and cableco Vidéotron’s Vidéotron Wireless, both planned to launch by the middle of 2010. The fifth new entrant, the cable company Shaw Communications, signalled its intention to enter the wireless market in late 2011. During 2009 wireless data growth rates averaged around 35% across the major wireless providers, as the popularity of non-voice wireless services such as email, social networking, Internet browsing, music and video downloads, mobile TV, satellite radio and text, multi-media and instant messaging grows apace. The growth was largely due to the 3G upgrades and the rapid uptake of smart phones such as the iPhone. The rapid growth of wireless data in recent years is expected to be even stronger during 2010/11, due to further network upgrades to HSPA+ and then again around 2011/12 due to upgrades to 4G LTE. Significantly, the increasing availability of mobile broadband will bring a commensurate shift from traditional voice calling to mobile VoIP usage. Indeed it is anticipated that mobile VoIP calling will constitute approximately half of all mobile voice traffic within ten years. During 2009 and early 2010 smart grid developments in Canada were gathering pace. For instance, Hydro One, Ontario’s electricity transmission company, surpassed the key milestone of having installed one million smart meters by mid-2009, then the largest smart meter deployment by a utility in North America. Consistent with the Green Energy Act, Hydro One was on track to install a smart meter in every home and small business in Ontario by end-2010. By summer 2010 one million households are expected to be participating in the Time-of-Use energy pricing system and by mid-2011 approximately 3.5 million households will be availed of the system.Forecast residential DSL, cable, FttH and 4G wireless broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2011 - 2015

Year DSL Cable FttH LTE/WiMAX
Subscribers (million)
2011 5.2 5.5 0.4 0.4
2012 5.5 3.3 0.6 7.0
2013 5.8 6.0 0.9 7.5
2014 6.0 6.2 1.5 15.5
2015 6.1 6.4 2.0 17.0
(Source: BuddeComm forecasts)
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview
2.2 Telecommunications infrastructure
2.2.1 National telecom network
2.2.2 International infrastructure
2.2.3 FttH and FttN
2.2.4 Cable HFC networks
2.3 Fixed line sector
2.4 Broadband market
2.4.1 Overview
2.4.2 Cable modem and DSL
2.4.3 WiFi
2.4.4 WiMAX
2.4.5 Satellite
2.5 Internet and e-commerce
2.6 Convergence of digital media
2.6.1 Overview
2.6.2 Digital television (DTV)
2.6.3 TV-over-IP (IPTV)
2.6.4 Cable telephony and VoIP
2.7 Wireless communications
2.7.1 Penetration
2.7.2 Major telcos
2.7.3 Wireless revenue drivers
2.8 Smart grid developments
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Overview
3.2 Broadcasting Regulatory issues
3.2.1 Overview of broadcasting regulation
3.2.2 Digital TV regulation
3.2.3 Proposed regulatory reform
3.2.4 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
3.3 Wireless Regulatory overview
3.3.1 CRTC and Industry Canada
3.3.2 Spectrum licensing
3.3.3 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
3.3.4 Rural digital roaming
3.3.5 System access fees
4. Major Telcos
4.1 Market highlights
4.2 Major Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs)
4.2.1 Overview
4.2.2 Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE)
4.2.3 TELUS Corporation
4.2.4 MTS Allstream
4.2.5 SaskTel
4.3 Major CLECs
4.3.1 Overview
4.3.2 Rogers Communications Inc
4.3.3 Shaw Communications Inc
4.3.4 Vidéotron Ltée
4.3.5 Cogeco Cable
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.1.1 Overview
5.1.2 Fixed networks
5.1.3 Wireless networks
5.2 International infrastructure
5.2.1 Satellite networks
5.2.2 Submarine cable networks
5.3 Infrastructure developments
5.3.1 Overview
5.3.2 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) and Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN)
5.3.3 Cable networks
5.4 Next Generation Networks (NGNs)
5.4.1 Overview
5.4.2 CANARIE Corporation
5.4.3 The Alberta SuperNet
5.4.4 Customer-owned networks
5.5 IP networks
5.5.1 IP network overview
5.5.2 VoIP market overview
5.6 Smart grid developments
6. Broadband Market
6.1 Industry overview and analysis
6.1.1 Broadband policy initiatives
6.1.2 Broadband statistics
6.2 Cable modems
6.2.1 Overview and statistics
6.2.2 Major cable broadband providers
6.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
6.3.1 Overview
6.3.2 Major DSL Providers
6.4 Fibre-to-the-Home/Node (FttH/FttN)
6.4.1 Overview
6.4.2 Major fibre projects
6.5 Wireless broadband
6.5.1 WiFi
6.5.2 WiMAX
6.5.3 Satellite
6.5.4 HSPA and LTE
7. Digital TV Broadcasting
7.1 General trends
7.2 Digital TV (DTV)
7.2.1 Overview
7.2.2 Market statistics
7.2.3 V-over-IP (IPTV)
7.2.4 Cable TV (CATV)
7.2.5 Satellite TV (DTH)
7.2.6 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
7.3 Consumer electronics
7.3.1 High Definition televisions
7.3.2 PVRs/DVRs
8. Wireless Communications
8.1 Analysis 2010/11
8.2 Overview of Canada’s Wireless market
8.2.1 Introduction
8.2.2 Wireless statistics
8.3 Regulatory Overview
8.4 Wireless technologies
8.4.1 Personal Communications Services (PCS)
8.4.2 GSM
8.4.3 Third Generation (3G) wireless
8.4.4 Long-term Evolution (LTE) wireless
8.4.5 WiMAX
8.5 Major wireless operators
8.5.1 Overview
8.5.2 Rogers Wireless
8.5.3 Bell Mobility
8.5.4 TELUS Mobility
8.5.5 SaskTel Mobility
8.5.6 MTS Allstream
8.5.7 New Entrants
8.6 Wireless services
8.6.1 Prepaid and postpaid services
8.6.2 Wireless data services
8.6.3 Text Messaging (SMS)
8.6.4 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
8.6.5 Mobile TV
9. Forecasts
9.1 Broadband subscriber forecasts - 2011 - 2015
9.2 Forecasts - wireless market - 2011 - 2016
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Canada - 2010
Table 2 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2010
Table 3 - Telecom revenue distribution by market sector - 2010
Table 4 - Telecom revenue by category of provider - 2010
Table 5 - Fixed line statistics - 2010
Table 6 - Major ISPs - 2010
Table 7 - Internet user statistics - 2010
Table 8 - Broadband statistics - 2010
Table 9 - Wireless statistics - 2010
Table 10 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 11 - Fixed line voice revenues - 2002 - 2010
Table 12 - Residential broadband Internet subscribers - 2001 - 2010
Table 13 - Internet statistics - 2010
Table 14 - Internet revenues - 2001 - 2010
Table 15 - Digital TV (cable, satellite, telco) and total TV households - 2002 - 2010
Table 16 - Wireless subscribers and annual change - 2005 - 2010
Table 17 - Wireless subscribers by major provider - 2004 - 2009
Table 18 - Top 7 licence winners of 2300MHz & 3500MHz auctions - 2004 - 2005
Table 19 - BCE operating revenue, net profit, CAPEX and subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 20 - BCE revenue summary - 2004 - 2009
Table 21 - Bell Canada operating statistics per market segment - 2008 - 2009
Table 22 - Bell Canada wireless and video ARPU and churn - 2008 - 2009
Table 23 - Bell Aliant operating results - 2008 - 2009
Table 24 - Bell Aliant operating revenue per market segment - 2008 - 2009
Table 25 - TELUS operating revenue, net profit, CAPEX and subscribers - 2004 - 2009
Table 26 - TELUS wireless ARPU and churn - 2004 - 2009
Table 27 - TELUS operating results per market segment - 2008 - 2009
Table 28 - MTS Allstream operating revenue, CAPEX, customers - 2007 - 2009
Table 29 - MTS Allstream operating revenues by division - 2008 - 2009
Table 30 - MTS Allstream wireless monthly ARPU - 2008 - 2009
Table 31 - SaskTel operating revenue, net income, CAPEX - 2008 - 2009
Table 32 - SaskTel operating operational data - 2008 - 2009
Table 33 - SaskTel wireless monthly ARPU - 2004 - 2009
Table 34 - Rogers Communications operating revenue and profit, subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 35 - Rogers Cable revenue, profit, CAPEX, stores and subscribers - 2004 - 2009
Table 36 - Rogers Media revenue, operating profit and CAPEX - 2003 - 2009
Table 37 - Shaw Communications operating revenue, profit and subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 38 - Vidéotron operating revenue, profit and subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 39 - Cogeco operating revenue, profit and subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 40 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 2000 - 2010
Table 41 - Subscriber numbers of major cable telephony providers - 2005 - 2009
Table 42 - Residential DSL and cable broadband subscribers - 2001 - 2010
Table 43 - Broadband penetration in top 10 OECD countries - 2001; 2006; 2009
Table 44 - Broadband penetration in G7 countries - 2004 - 2009
Table 45 - Cable modem subscribers by major operator - 2003 - 2009
Table 46 - DSL subscribers by major operator - 2004 - 2009
Table 47 - Digital TV (cable, satellite, telco) and total TV households - 2002 - 2010
Table 48 - Digital TV households - cable, satellite and telco market shares - 2003 - 2010
Table 49 - DTH and major cable company TV subscribers and market share - 2008 - 2009
Table 50 - Cable TV market operational overview - 2008 - 2010
Table 51 - DBS subscribers - 2001 - 2010
Table 52 - Wireless subscribers and annual change - 2000 - 2010
Table 53 - Wireless subscribers by major provider - 2004 - 2009
Table 54 - Wireless operator market share - 2006 - 2009
Table 55 - Wireless provider market share by province - 2008
Table 56 - Wireless industry revenue by service type - 2002 - 2008
Table 57 - Rogers Wireless pre/postpaid revenue and operating income - 2002 - 2009
Table 58 - Rogers Wireless pre and postpaid subscribers, churn and ARPU - 2008 - 2009
Table 59 - Bell Wireless revenue, subscribers, churn and ARPU - 2008 - 2009
Table 60 - TELUS Mobility revenue, EBITDA, penetration and coverage - 2003 - 2009
Table 61 - TELUS Mobility prepaid, postpaid subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 62 - TELUS Mobility ARPU and monthly churn rate - 2002 - 2009
Table 63 - SaskTel Mobility revenue, subscribers, ARPU and annual change - 2008 - 2009
Table 64 - MTS Allstream wireless revenue, subscribers, ARPU - 2008 - 2009
Table 65 - Prepaid subscribers by major operator - 2004 - 2009
Table 66 - Postpaid and prepaid wireless subscribers and annual change - 2008 - 2009
Table 67 - Text messages sent per month - 2002 - 2009
Table 68 - Forecast residential DSL, cable, FttH and 4G wireless broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario - 2011 - 2015
Table 69 - Forecast residential DSL, cable, FttH and 4G wireless broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2011 - 2015
Table 70 - Forecast wireless subscribers, penetration and revenue - lower growth scenario - 2011 - 2016
Table 71 - Forecast wireless subscribers, penetration and revenue - higher growth scenario - 2011 - 2016
Exhibit 1 - Major submarine cables landing in Canada
Exhibit 2 - Toronto Hydro, Google and smart metering
Exhibit 3 - Telesat’s current and planned fleet of satellites
Exhibit 4 - Major submarine cables landing in Canada
Exhibit 5 - Major telco fibre optic deployments
Exhibit 6 - Major cable telephony and VoIP developments
Exhibit 7 - Toronto Hydro, Google and smart metering
Exhibit 8 - CANARIE Corporation
Exhibit 9 - City WiFi - Toronto’s OneZone Wireless network
Exhibit 10 - The Alberta SuperNet
Exhibit 11 - Overview of VoD developments
Exhibit 12 - Major IPTV providers
Exhibit 13 - Major cable TV providers
Exhibit 14 - Satellite TV providers
Exhibit 15 - 3G licence awards - January 2001

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