CRTC: Canada had 27.4 million wireless subscribers at the end of 2011, new entrants accounted for 4%

Ian Hardy

September 4, 2012 11:58 am


The CRTC has released their annual “Communications Monitoring Report” and there’s a bunch of notable stats. Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, stated “this report is used to gauge whether the communications industry is meeting the needs of Canadians as consumers, citizens and creators.”

According to the report the number of wireless subscriber in Canada now sits at 27.4 million, up 6% from last year and representing 78.2% of households. As for subscribers, the CRTC says that the new entrants (WIND, Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Videotron) have captured approximately 4% of wireless subscribers and 2% of revenues in 2011.” Take the 4% of 27.4 million and you have 1,096,000. At the end of 2011 WIND Mobile reported their subscriber base reached 403,000 – so this means that the others have a combined total of 693,000. Wireless revenues increased 6.2% from $18.0 billion to $19.1 billion. ARPU (Average revenue per user) also increased in 2011 by 0.2% to $57.98/month.

Other notable stats:

– networks cover approx. 20% of Canada’s geographic area and is available to 99% of Canadians
– LTE network is available to approximately 45% of Canadians
– Rogers had 36% wireless market share, followed by Bell at 28% and TELUS at 27%
– Texting is still the most popular activity for smartphone owners, followed by accessing the web
– Tablet usage is around 10%

Developing…




You can check out the full report here at the CRTC

  • abc123

    The big 3 are raping Canadians, as usual.

    • Get a vocabulary

      You could pick a different word from “raping”. How about “overcharging”? More accurate, less offensive.

  • EvanKr

    Hey, CRTC, how about instead of putting your time and effort towards these studies that are only beneficial to us phone geeks and the big 3 to see where they can hit us with charges next, how about you do something beneficial to EVERYONE and ban the dreaded 3 year contract!

  • Sid

    - networks cover approx. 20% of Canada’s geographic area and is available to 99% of Canadians

    That should put an end to all of those population density arguements for justifying higher prices.

    • GOD

      maybe 99% of the population is covered… but there is still people living up in the north and they want a cellular service.. so the companies still have to install antenna even if it deserve 0.01% of the population… So its not tomorrow that we will see lower prices with a 2 year contract…

    • blacklisted

      Sid, oh naive Sid, you are aware that those ENORMOUS networks (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) have operational costs that are in the many millions. And those networks need to be consistantly densified in order to properly serve the increasing number of data subscribers which means building more cell sites costing many more millions. Oh, and 99% coverage doesn’t necessarily mean in-building coverage, only street level, so many more millions need to be spent to achieve coverage in malls, stadiums, office buildings, etc. And the 99% is probably all the carriers combined, not necessarily each carrier specifically so anyone who doesn’t have coverage in certain areas needs to build out cell sites which, you guessed it, costs many more millions.

      So before you think, in your naive way, that just because COVERAGE is 99%, it doesn’t mean that capacity meets the needs in those areas. Spending doesn’t just stop because a cell site has been built.

    • Sid

      @God: Is there some law mandating companies to cover 100% of the population? Some people choose to live so far away from civilization, it will never be feasible to get them coverage. I don’t think any country can claim 100% of their population covered with cell service.

      @blacklisted: that’s a problem every carrier in every country has to deal with. Canada is not unique with this problem. That isn’t a reason to have higher prices than every other country.

  • Scott

    Lots of pretty graphs, pie charts and numbers. But the fundamental question – “whether the communications industry is meeting the needs of Canadians as consumers, citizens and creators” – is easy to answer. When 3 suppliers have 91% market share, then it’s pretty clear that the needs of the Canadian consumer are NOT being served. It’s a classic monopoly situation where prices are high, service is poor, and innovation is stifled. The only ones who win in this situation are the big 3 wireless telco’s.

  • T1MB0T

    Seems about right. The big 3 are the only ones that can get the job done.. you think wind has a hope? ha haaaaaaaa

    • Scott

      Well that’s my point – in the current market, the outlook is very bleak for new entrants like Wind. The government should be putting a regulatory framework in place that enables and encourages an open competitive market, not one like we have now that protects the incumbents at the consumer’s expense.

    • blacklisted

      @Scott, ‘an open competitive market’…and that’s what we have. The new providers came in promising lower cost cellular service. In turn the incumbents brought in new brands that, surprise surprise, offered lower cost cellular service. What are you complaining about? If the government felt that this was anti-competitive, then the incumbents would have simply offered those prices using their Bell/Rogers/Telus names, and guess what, the new providers would still be up poop creek.

      Yes, Rogers/Bell/Telus prices are higher than Wind/Mobilicity/etc but Koodo/Virgin/Chatr/Fido are competitively priced. If the new providers aren’t able to survive in an established market because the cost of building out is beyond their ability to take in income, then perhaps the new providers’ need to take a new look at their business model.

      In the past on this site I’ve compared the new providers to the new Canadian airliners we saw popup in the ’90s and early ’00s. How many of them are still around. I believe the answer is 1, WestJet. How did WestJet start, by going nationwide and international to directly compete with Air Canada. No, of course not. What kinds of an imbecile would try to do….oh wait Wind and Mobilicity did. What WestJet did, and the new providers should have done is start small in one market, build up a good reputation, and expand as economically viable. Unfortunately they didn’t and now have huge debt and are very likely to fold unless a miracle happens.

    • Dontcallmedarling

      @Scott, regulatory frameworks like you’re seeking are what would stifle innovation.

  • delumen

    The 93% that aren’t new entrants can’t switch because they are stuck in contracts.

    • Frostdriven2

      Since the new entrants have been out for 2+ years now most people’s contracts would have since expired and if they wanted to they would have switched. I am continually amazed at posters saying 3 year terms should be banned. The public would not sign them if they did not see value there. Also, they have the ability to leave at any time. The cost to do so is hardly punitive – they just pay out the subsidy they received.

  • CaptObvious

    Robbers and Dull both lost 1% in marketshare in 2011, that’s a good start in my opinion.

    Thumbs up if you agree,

    Thumbs down if you feel Robbers and Dull should have both gained 2%

    • antirobbers

      bell = hell
      rogers = robbers
      telus = ??? smellus??? (open to suggestions on that one)
      dull is too much of a stretch.

  • blacklisted

    Quick geography lesson to those who have difficulties with facts….99% population coverage in 20% of Canada’s land area. Canada has a total land area of 10,000,000 square Km, therefore 20% is 2,000,000 square km.

    The entire country of Japan is only 378,000 sq.km
    The entire country of South Korea is only 100,200 sq.km
    The entire country of Hong Kong is 1104 sq.km
    Therefore, the cellular coverage in Canada is greater than the entire areas of Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong combined, and it’s not even close.

    Want some more comparisons…..Canada’s population is 35,000,000. Japan has 127,000,000 and South Korea has 50,000,000. How about that, Canada has 20% of the population that Japan and S.Korea have combined but provides coverage to 4.2x the land area, that’s a nearly 21x difference. Oh, and by the way that’s comparing total land mass of those countries, not coverage area so you can imagine what the difference would be if we had Japan & South Korea’s coverage areas to compare.

    For those who would like to retort by comparing Canada to Russia, don’t bother since their greater size (1.7x) doesn’t equate to their greater populations (4x).

    • antirobbers

      great, now do the same math for australia, Russia, romania, the USA, south africa and the dozens of other non-asian countries that pay less for cell service than we do.

    • blacklisted

      I already mentioned Russia. American customers pay (give or take a couple dollars) the same as Canadians, which given their high number of dense populations centres really makes their customers more screwed over than Canadians. Please explain to me why customers in the US (which is the most closely comparable country to Canada) pay basically the same as those in Canada? And don’t say corporate greed as that’s the most unimaginative, uneducated response one can come up with, especially considering how poorly, financialy, 2 of the 4 major cellular companies in the US are doing.

      Romania and South Africa, since you didn’t provide any numbers as I so graciously did I’ll do the honour….

      Although Romania’s population is only 54% that of Canada’s, it’s size is only 2% that of Canada’s therefore building out a cellular network there should not be nearly as difficult.

      South Africa has a population 1.4x that of Canada but has an area a mere 8.2% that of Canada. Again, another example of a country where population isn’t nearly as spread out as Canada making the construction of a cellular network much easier.

      Don’t know enough about Australia to comment on them. Why don’t you come up with some educated ideas instead of being Canadian about it and letting someone else do the dirty work.

  • Shootah

    “Rome wasn’t built in 1 Day”….even The Big 3 weren’t INSTANTLY successful….Rogers had to nudge Bell out of the way at the beginning, and acquiring Fido helped their overall share…When the iPhone was introduced, Canada didn’t get it first, and neither did Telus…Give the NEXT 3 some time, it was a CROWDED Market Place when they entered, but CLEARLY they are making strides in the RIGHT direction…Personally, I’ve NEVER PAID SO LITTLE for Wireless phone service, since I switched to WIND!!

    • Quinn

      Piss off and quit comparing Wind costs to Big 3 costs. Until Wind has the same converage as the Big 3, the annoying Wind arguments from your and your cronies are completely invalid.