Telecom trends in Canada

The future of mobile communications in Canada and pathways to economic and societal benefits of new 5G technologies will be an important topic over the next decade. Price is a key driver of accelerated adoption of new technologies. The CRTC reported that wireless prices declined by 30 per cent from 2016 to 2018 with average unlimited data plans in the $50 to $75 a month range compared to , a huge decline in price from 2018 when, according to the government’s own study, $75 was the average price for a 2-GB plan.

Recent Telecom Regulation Trends

In May, the CRTC set the rules for MVNO access and gave companies until August 7 to negotiate agreements. When companies cannot come to an agreement, they can ask the CRTC to set the rate through a process known as final offer arbitration. This process requires each company to submit a proposed rate for the CRTC’s consideration. Quebecor and Rogers asked the CRTC to initiate arbitration.

  • In 2021, the CRTC introduced its policy to increase cellphone competition by allowing regional competitors to sell services using the networks of Canada’s large wireless companies.
  • In 2023, the CRTC finalized the rules for that policy. Those rules require companies to negotiate agreements by August 7, 2023.
  • When companies cannot come to a rate agreement on their own, they can apply to the CRTC for final offer arbitration. Each party submits its best final offer under the terms of the policy, and the CRTC selects the option that best aligns with the objectives of the Telecommunications Act and the 2023 Policy Direction.
  • These objectives dictate that the rate must:
    • be fair and reasonable for the service;
    • foster competition, innovation, and allow both companies to invest in networks; and
    • promote affordable cellphone services for Canadians.

The changes—often rapid changes—we track in this year’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report are new, important, and usually counter-consensus.

Arcus predicts that the usage of artificial intelligence will drive significant changes in the customization of data and voice plans for customers  by leveraging the cloud to engage with entertainment on their phones – TV sports, gaming and video. To stay ahead, TMT companies will need to develop technologies and consumer  engagement strategies to target specific consumer segments with customized offerings that merge data/voice solutions with the entertainment preferences of consumers. For example, if a family plan includes teenage users, the importance of interactive video platforms such as TikTok become important. Aligning usage patterns with TMT solutions would deliver substantial value to customers.  

Network performance and coverage are important drivers of a healthy wireless industry, in addition to declining prices. Canada is a challenging market to build wireless networks because of its size, scale and sparse population. According to Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Canada’s wireless providers have invested over $70-billion in building world-class wireless networks throughout the country. Which they estimate is twice as much per connection compared to the European Union.

Canada’s LTE wireless networks are ranked the third fastest in the world and reach 99 per cent of Canadians. Policy proposals need to find a balance between mobile virtual network operators—whose business models depend on regulatory arbitrage rather than building and maintaining wireless infrastructure and telecom infrastructure owners for sustainable competition and investment.

Broader telecom trends in Canada

As of my last update in January 2022, several telecom trends were shaping the Canadian market. While I can’t provide real-time data, I can outline some ongoing trends that might still be relevant:

  1. 5G Expansion: Canadian telecom companies were in the process of expanding their 5G networks across the country. 5G was expected to revolutionize connectivity, enabling faster speeds, lower latency, and supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
  2. Competition and Regulatory Environment: The Canadian telecom market has historically been dominated by a few major players. However, there were ongoing discussions and initiatives to increase competition and reduce prices, including regulatory interventions and spectrum auctions.
  3. Internet of Things (IoT): IoT adoption was on the rise in various sectors, including smart cities, agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing. Telecom companies were investing in IoT infrastructure and services to capitalize on this growing market.
  4. Remote Work and Connectivity: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to remote work and highlighted the importance of reliable connectivity. Telecom providers were adapting to increased demand for broadband internet and reliable network services.
  5. Digital Transformation: Telecom companies were investing in digital transformation initiatives to enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and introduce new services. This included investments in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and digital customer service channels.
  6. Cybersecurity: With the growing reliance on digital technologies, cybersecurity became a critical concern for telecom companies and their customers. Providers were investing in cybersecurity solutions to protect their networks and customer data from cyber threats.
  7. Content Streaming and Bundling: Telecom companies were increasingly offering bundled services that include internet, television, and streaming content subscriptions. This trend reflected the changing preferences of consumers who were shifting towards online streaming platforms.
  8. Environmental Sustainability: There was a growing emphasis on environmental sustainability within the telecom industry. Companies were adopting renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and implementing green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.

These trends were likely to continue shaping the Canadian telecom market, although specific developments may have occurred since my last update. For the most current information, I recommend consulting recent industry reports, news articles, and official announcements from Canadian telecom companies and regulatory authorities.

Trends and Projections

Innovative leaders share a view point on challenges and opportunities faced by their peers. Contact Arcus to participate in this series of leadership interviews. Learn more about our research and strategy consulting services.

The New Science of Human Capital.  The need for quality of talent where it makes the most difference in an organization is critical. This is a two-step process. First you need to determine where talent has the biggest impact and where talent has the biggest impact and second you need to figure out how to improve the quantity or the quality of that talent so first things first how do we determine where changes and talent practices in the organization would potentially have the biggest effect. Read more.

Service coverage

The variety, breadth, and depth of the projects where Arcus can be a resource are made unique by each client’s specific needs. By providing a very small sample of projects we’ve completed, we can help you understand how and when to use our services. Visit the links below to find out more about a specific problem or opportunity you would like to address.

Below is a sample of the range of services that Arcus has provided to clients.

  • A survey of 2,350 consumers and 1,320 business leaders for feedback on sustainability trends
  • Architecting a multi-year change strategy for a Fortune 500 company
  • Mentoring a CEO on organizational change
  • Excellence transformation of a leading B2B services company
  • Creating a new sales deployment model for a healthcare company
  • Developing a position evaluation and compensation model for a professional medical association   
  • Improving services to customer segments by deepening their understanding of customer attitudes

“Arcus manages to consistently deliver tangible results on market research and strategy projects. They combine deep business expertise, powerful research capabilities, and innovative thinking to deliver substantial value.”

– Vice President, Nikon

Media Coverage

Arcus has been quoted extensively in media on a range of topics and can offer research studies, insights and ideas. Here are some examples from the Globe and Mail, CTV, Global TV and others.