IDC Canada analyst forecasts half a million new wireless subscriptions in 2017

Canadian Mobile Stories

The Canadian wireless market will see incremental growth in 2017 in both subscribers and value due mainly to increased demand for mobile data, according to Lawrence Surtees, IDC Canada’s vice-president of communications research.

Surtees, who is at work producing the forthcoming “Canadian Telecom Services Forecast, 2017-2021: Telecom Inside Out” report, stated in an interview with MobileSyrup that Canada’s wireless market will grow in value from $22.3 billion CAD in 2016 to $23.5 billion in 2017, representing a greater than five percent increase.

He also predicted Canada will see continued subscriber growth from its 82.5 percent penetration rate in 2016 — calculated on reported numbers from telecoms matched against the most recent Statistics Canada population numbers — to 85.7 percent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points.

In whole figures, that’s a jump from 30 million wireless subscribers at the end of 2016, to a predicted 30.5 million.

An increase in wireless substitution will be one driver for that growth, says Surtees, noting that at the end of 2016 he estimates about 43 percent of Canadians had substituted landlines phones for wireless devices.

While it may seem like Canada is crawling towards the top limit of mobile penetration, Surtees notes that globally the rate of penetration is 99 percent, and that some countries have penetration rates as high as 200 percent (that’s an average of two lines for every citizen).

Since 500,000 is a fairly moderate influx of new subscribers, most of the growth that Surtees is predicting comes by way of an increase in average revenue per user (ARPU) and wireless data use.

“The greater amount is from increased ARPU but largely on data, because ARPU on voice has been plummeting,” said Surtees, adding: “There are still new subscriptions but at a lower rate than in the past, so the bulk of growth is coming from wireless data. The same factors that are behind increased use of the internet is the same that is fueling wireless data.”

More details about the state of Canadian wireless in 2017 will be revealed in May 2017, when IDC is slated to publish its full report.