Canadian mobile data use climbs as prices continue to decline, said the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in a new report compiled using data collected through the CRTC-Statistics Canada Quarterly survey, the CRTC annual Facilities Survey and the CRTC annual Pricing Survey.
In the report, the Commission noted that more and more Canadians are switching to larger data packages. Also, mobile wireless data traffic now returns to its upward trend after a temporary drop due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The CRTC pegs Canada’s average monthly mobile data usage at 5.3GB in Q4 2022, an increase of almost 40 per cent year over year.
The report indicates that prices have fallen across the board. On a national level, some high-end data packages have decreased by almost 20 per cent. The CRTC showed that on average, a mobile plan with 5GB of monthly data with unlimited texting and calling has become 10 per cent cheaper since 2019, falling from C$48.81 in 2019 to C$43.81 in 2021.
Newer premium plans appear to have become cheaper as well. For example, the average price for a 10GB mobile plan has dropped by 19 per cent since 2019. Even more encouraging is the pricing for 20GB and 50GB data packages, which fell by 9 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in the same period. The relative cost decrease seen is similar between rural and urban areas.
However, mobile plans with lower data caps have seen a small increase. The average cost of a 1GB data plan has increased slightly since 2019, climbing from C$29.02 to C$30.34. Similarly, the average cost of a talk-only plan increased to C$20.83 per month, a C$0.90 climb since 2019.
Looking at the cost from a broader scope, all popular data plans have seen a significant drop in price compared to 2016 levels.
In terms of coverage, the CRTC reports that 99.7 per cent of Canada has access to LTE mobile signals. Up until as recently as 2017, some communities, like ones in Nunavut, had no LTE services whatsoever. They were finally provided service in 2019.
Still, that last 0.3 per cent represents 109.7k Canadians who are without coverage. An overwhelming majority of them live in rural areas. Additionally, coverage is lower in First Nations reserve areas and along major roads and highways.
But the commission says that its plans to bring LTE coverage to 100 per cent of Canadians are still on track for December 2026. Now that LTE deployment is largely complete, telecommunication service providers have turned their attention to rolling out their respective 5G networks.