It doesn’t take long to reach an internet blackzone in Ontario, which is why more and more Canadians will get their home data access from cellular mobile networks in 2018, according to Deloitte Canada.
“I can drive from Canada’s largest city for 48 minutes and reach a bunch of people who have no access to wired or high speed internet,” Duncan Stewart, Deloitte Canada’s director of technology, media and telecommunications, told a crowd at the 2018 Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions roadshow in Toronto.
Large companies looking to innovate the digital economy are still under the assumption that everyone in Canada has access to high-speed internet, said Stewart, when in fact, nearly a quarter of people are “sipping through a straw.”
Deloitte predicts that more than 25 per cent of Canadians with internet will get all of their home data access from cellular mobile networks in 2018. Approximately 23 per cent of Canadians already get their home internet access that way, a number that surprised even Stewart, he told ItBusiness.ca.
“I was expecting around 15 per cent,” he said.
In the U.S., only 20 per cent of people get their home internet through cellular networks.
Canadians living near the poverty line, and younger Canadians, Stewart said, are more likely to tap into the cellular network for internet. Many of them live in rural Ontario. It’s a problem the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), an organization looking to deliver speeds and bandwidth to at least 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Eastern Ontario, is trying to solve.
EORN’s $213 million public-private partnership proposal aims to improve the reach and quality of cellular services. The proposal was submitted to both the federal and provincial governments last May, and the organization has been making its rounds across the province, pitching the idea to municipalities. The major gaps in broadband access is a result of market failure, according to EORN.
“The gaps are the result of market failure. Rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for cell carriers to build adequate services,” the organization said in a press release.
EORN’s proposal also includes an option to combine the initial expansion with a secure network for first responders, which would be used when they need to communicate with each other in a secure environment.
By 2022, North Americans who get internet through wireless data at home could reach between 30 and 40 per cent, said Stewart, mostly through new mmWave 5G wireless technologies.
A map of Canada’s broadband coverage can be found here.