Canadians love their wireless devices – and a new report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the data to back it up.

According to the organization’s 2016 Communications Monitoring Report, the wireless market now represents 51 per cent of all retail telecommunications services revenue, which reached a record $65.7 billion last year.

Moreover, the number of subscribers to wireless services continues to grow, increasing by 3.4 per cent last year to nearly 30 million. Smartphone and tablet ownership and wireless data usage have continued to increase as well, while landline subscriptions and broadcasting service revenues went down.

“It is clear that Canadians are shifting towards digital platforms and mobile technologies,” CRTC chair and CEO Jean‐Pierre Blais wrote in the report’s introductory message. “Canadians across the country depend increasingly on wireless technologies in their daily lives.”

For example, the report found that Canadians spent the largest share of their monthly communications services budget – 38 per cent – on mobile, followed by home television (26 per cent), Internet (20 per cent), and home telephone services (16 per cent).

It also found that 73 per cent of Canadians 18 or older owned a smartphone last year – an increase of seven per cent over 2014, and of 36 per cent since 2011 – while 52 per cent owned a tablet.

On a related note, more Canadian households reported subscribing to mobile telephone services (85.6 per cent) than to landline services (75.5 per cent), with a greater number of those subscribers using mobile broadband services, and those who use mobile broadband services consuming more data.

“While the majority of Canadians still own and use wireline phones, the data confirms the slow and steady shift away from this technology in favour of wireless services,” the report’s authors wrote.

More than 22 million Canadians subscribed to mobile broadband services in 2015, compared to 19.3 million in 2014 (and 13.2 million in 2011!), while wireless data usage increased by 44 per cent between 2014 and 2015 alone. (Fixed Internet data usage was no slouch, increasing by nearly 40 per cent during the same period.)

Unsurprisingly, the report also found that younger Canadians were spending more on mobile wireless services than their older counterparts – three times more, with Canadians under 30 spending an average of $114.42 per month, while Canadians 65 over spent an average of $33.50 per month.

It’s worth noting that the report also found that households among the 40 per cent lowest income quintiles were more likely to be wireless‐only, suggesting that the rise of mobile‐only subscribers may be driven by affordability rather than changing preferences.

Finally, the CRTC noted that certain regions of Canada are driving the shift from landline to wireless more than others, with consumers in the four western provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia) and Ontario playing a key role in the rise of mobile‐only households, while Quebec and the eastern provinces possess a larger percentage of landline‐only households.

In fact, the number of landline‐only households in Newfoundland and Labrador actually increased, from 13.2 per cent in 2013 to 14.0 per cent in 2014, while mobile‐only households in the province decreased from 12.0 per cent in 2013 to 10.2 per cent in 2014.

Other highlights from the report:

  • 99.2 per cent of Canadians subscribed to either mobile wireless or landline telephone services in 2014;
  • Monthly household spending on communications services increased from an average of $212 in 2013 to $215 in 2014, with mobile services accounting for the largest increase, from $79 in 2013 to $83 in 2014;
  • Broadcasting service revenues came in at $17.9 billion in 2015, a 1.6 per cent drop from 2014;
  • More Canadian households subscribe exclusively to mobile wireless services (23.7 per cent) than to landline services (13.6 per cent);
  • More than 80 per cent of Canadian households have access to broadband service speeds of at least 50 Mbps;
  • The five largest telecom firms accounted for 82 per cent of overall revenue in 2015, a percentage that was relatively unchanged from 2014.

The full report can be read on the CRTC’s website.

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