Research firm maps Internet penetration by postal code

A spreadsheet that maps Canadian Internet penetration based on the first three characters of a postal code will help service providers plan their business strategies, according to the telecom research firm that created it.

Montreal-based Maravedis calls its product the “Canadian Internet Database,” which is essentially an Excel file with one cell for each of the 15,000 zones that cover Web access and usage across the country. The zones are identified by Canada Post’s Forward Sortation Area, the first half of a postal code. It also includes projections of future Internet growth based on a variety of demographic factors including age, income, education level and other Canadian Census data.

“One of the aspects of business planning for ISPs is really to get to the situation in the particular city and within that particular city,” said Adlane Fellah, a senior analyst at Maravedis. “They want to look at prospects – how do they change from one city to another?”

Fellah said the genesis for the database came out of a consulting project Maravedis did with a wireless carrier last year, which wanted an estimated takeup rate of WiMax in British Columbia and other provinces.

According to Maravedis, Internet penetration per household in Canada will exceed 70 per cent by 2017. It also predicts 95 per cent of Internet users will have subscribed to a high-speed (broadband) connection.

Maravedis plans to sell the database and will also help customers with consulting services about how to plan their go-to-market approach.

“We have compiled detailed information with licenced WiMax holders in Canada,” Fellah said. “If you’re a WiMax operator, you’ll be able to map Internet indicators to your own licence area.”

Jon Arnold, a Toronto-based research analyst who studies the wireless market, said it will probably take until at least next year before WiMax takes hold in Canada, though recent investments from companies like Motorola indicate it is a technology with broad potential.

“It’s still not proven on a large-scale basis for mass deployments,” he said. “When you look at these municipal Wi-Fi projects — those things are just starting to happen. So we’ll see more of that first.”

Julien Regoli, who helped develop the database with Fellah, said it is not only intended to evaluate WiMax deployment.

“It’s useful in terms of broadband wireless opportunities and also to see what the penetration is like for other technologies like cable and DSL,” he said. “As wireless is introduced, (ISPs) will want to be prepared for the introduction of new technology like WiMax.”

According to the Maravedis database, British Columbia is expected to possess the highest Internet penetration rate at close to 80 per cent by 2017, followed by Ontario and Alberta in the high 70 per cent range. In contrast, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland are expected to reach around 55 per cent penetration, Maravedis said.


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