87% CANADIAN households are connected to the internet

Internet access, speed, price and usage

Canada continues to be one of the most ‘wired’ countries in the world. With nearly 87 per cent of Canadian households connected to the Internet, Canada ranks 16th globally in terms of Internet penetration in 2013. This is up from 80 per cent in 2010. Among its G8 counterparts, Canada ranks second in Internet penetration, behind the United Kingdom.

Global Internet penetration

Global Internet penetration

Source: Wikipedia

However, while Canada is among the most connected countries in the world, a set of ‘digital divides’ exist within its borders:

  • 95 per cent of Canadians in the highest income quartile are connected to the Internet, yet only 62 per cent in the lowest income quartile have Internet access.
  • Internet access varies by province. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey in 2012, British Columbia and Alberta lead the nation in household Internet access with 86 per cent, followed by Ontario at 84 per cent. Household access is lowest in Quebec (78 per cent) and the east coast (Prince Edward Island, 78 per cent; New Brunswick, 77 per cent).
  • Whereas broadband is available to 100 per cent of Canadians that live in urban areas, only 85 per cent of Canadians in rural areas have access. The urban/rural/remote divide is even more pronounced in the Canadian North. A 2010 report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) showed that 83.5 per cent of households in the Northwest Territories (NWT) had Internet access, 100 per cent of communities in the Yukon had access, yet only 27 per cent of communities in Nunavut had access. In the NWT, community level Internet access ranged from 17 per cent in the tiny hamlet of Wrigley, to 89.9 per cent in Yellowknife.

The Internet is a part of the day-to-day lives of Canadians The Internet is a part of the day-to-day lives of Canadians

The information and communications sector in Canada is worth $155 billion The information and communications sector in Canada is worth $155 billion

87 per cent of Canadian households are connected to the Internet 87 per cent of Canadian households are connected to the Internet

Canadian retailers are slow to adopt the Internet for their business Canadian retailers are slow to adopt the Internet for their business

Canada ranks 16th globally in terms of Internet penetration Canada ranks 16th globally in terms of Internet penetration

Broadband availability varies significantly between rural and urban areas: 100 % in cities, 85% in rural areas Broadband availability varies significantly between rural and urban areas: 100 % in cities, 85% in rural areas

Households with home Internet access

Households with home Internet access

Broadband availability at a glance

Broadband availability at a glance

Source: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tracks broadband speed and cost by member nations. Canada’s ranking has steadily declined in OECD reports over the past decade, with minor improvements in the past few years (ranking 23rd in 2012 and 19th in 2013). In 2014, Canada remained steady in 19th position, with minor improvements in speed.

Broadband speed and price are important to both the end user (in terms of cheaper, faster service) and Canada’s digital economy, as they comprise a nation’s ‘digital currency’ making it a more attractive place for start-ups and investment.

Internet speeds and costs around the world

Source: OECD and Teligen

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Other nations that made significant gains in broadband speed in 2013 included Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and Israel. South Korea, Sweden and Japan have topped this list for a number of years, likely due to deliberate national strategies to enhance Internet access, speed and price.

Internet use in Canada

Web pages visited - Canada: 3.7k, Global: 2.3k

Canadians have long led the world in Internet usage. This trend continued in 2013, with Canadians visiting the most web pages visited per month (3,731), the highest in the world. They also ranked a close second behind the United States for the average number of hours spent online per user(41.3 hours per month).

Canadians’ Internet usage is much greater than their global counterparts.

The global average of pages visited per month by user was 2,278 in 2013, and the average number of hours spent online by user in 2013 was 24.6 per month.

Global online activity and engagement

Global online activity and engagement

Source: comScore

Canadians tend to use different Internet-connected device for different activities. Social media is the top activity performed on portable devices, such as laptops and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The top activity in 2013 on desktop computers, however, was gaming. Playing games was an activity performed on all devices in 2013, ranking third on laptops, second on tablets and fourth on mobile devices.

What Canadians are doing online

What Canadians are doing online

In 2012-13, the primary activity for the average Internet user overall remains email (89 per cent), followed by banking (69 per cent) and hobbies/personal interests (64 per cent). However, email and banking are both steadily declining as reasons for using the Internet among Internet users and have declined from 95 per cent and 81 per cent respectively in 2010).

Video phone services such as Skype and Facetime have emerged as one of the fastest growing reasons for using the Internet (growing from 10 per cent in 2010 to 29 per cent in 2013) as well as playing games (from 26 per cent in 2010 to 54 per cent in 2013).

British Columbia and Alberta lead the nation in household Internet access at 86 per cent British Columbia and Alberta lead the nation in household Internet access at 86 per cent

English-speaking Canadians spend, on average, 7 hours online per week more than their French-speaking counterparts English-speaking Canadians spend, on average, 7 hours online per week more than their French-speaking counterparts

Canada ranks 19th among OECD nations for broadband speed and price Canada ranks 19th among OECD nations for broadband speed and price

Social media and online video

Social media and online video

Canadians also continued to be heavy consumers of online video, ranking second behind the United Kingdom for average hours per month (24.8 hours) and average number of videos watched per month (291).

By the fall of 2012, about 17 per cent of Canadians had a subscription to Netflix.

The number of Canadians subscribing to television services provided over the Internet has been steadily increasing. The most popular service of this type is Netflix. By the fall of 2012, about 17 per cent of Canadians had a subscription to this service. The western provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia) had the largest percentages of Netflix subscribers. Quebec had the fewest subscribers, which is not surprisingly due to the lack of French-language content on Netflix.

Global online video consumption

Global online video consumption

Netflix in Canada

Netflix in Canada

Source : MTM 2012 (Respondents: Canadians 18+)

The significance of the growing amount of Internet video consumption should not be underestimated. As more Canadians use the Internet for ‘long-form viewing’, the traditional cable television industry is already starting to feel its impact. And, as video tends to use more Internet bandwidth than other forms of data, end users may experience high Internet access charges.

Social media

Social media is very popular in Canada, with activity in that area growing by three per cent in 2013. Almost 24 million Canadians, or 69 per cent of the nation’s population, visited at least one social networking site last year.

Facebook continued to dominate Canadians’ social media activities, with unique users increasing by eight per cent. In 2013, more than 19 million Canadians are logging on to that social network at least once a month.

More visual social networking services like Pinterest and Tumblr experienced the highest growth rates, 792 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

Device usage for social network access

More than one quarter of Canadians use a mobile device (mobile phone, 20 per cent; tablet, six per cent) to access social networking services. This is well below the global average (38 per cent) for those devices, but higher than Germany (22 percent). The most common way for Canadians to access social media was by a laptop (40 per cent), followed by a desktop computer (30 per cent).

Top social networking sites in Canada by unique visitors

Top social networking sites in Canada by unique visitors

Source: comScore

Canadians are the second heaviest users of the Internet globally, averaging 41.3 hours/month online Canadians are the second heaviest users of the Internet globally, averaging 41.3 hours/month online

Canadians watch 291 videos online per month, on average Canadians watch 291 videos online per month, on average

Canadians rank 2nd in the world for the average amount of time spent watching online videos/month: 24.8 hours Canadians rank 2nd in the world for the average amount of time spent watching online videos/month: 24.8 hours

E-commerce in Canada

While Canadians are heavy users of the Internet for a wide variety of activities, Canadian businesses have been slow to develop an online presence. Only 45.5 per cent of Canadian businesses have a website. For Canadian small businesses – a significant portion of Canada’s private sector – this number drops to 41.1 per cent. While low, this percentage is on par with American businesses. In 2013, Google reported that 58 per cent of U.S. businesses do not have a website.

According to ComScore reports, Canadian online spending rose to $22.3 billion.

Canadian businesses might want to establish a web presence sooner rather than later, as the value of e-commerce in Canada is increasing. ComScore reported that in 2012, e-commerce spending in Canada rose by 10 per cent to $22.3 billion. Furthermore, e-commerce transactions have increased by 17 per cent in 2012 to more than 105,000.

E-commerce in Canada

E-commerce in Canada

Source: ComScore: The Value of e-commerce in Canada

In spite of this growth, Canada remains below average for online spending relative to its global counterparts. A 2012 study shows that e-commerce accounted for only 3.4 per cent of the nation’s total spending, while it accounts for 23 per cent in the United Kingdom and 7.1 per cent in the United States.

In fact, the study’s author projects that e-commerce will account for 5.3 per cent of Canada’s total spending by 2016, still less than the G20 average in 2012 of six per cent.

Interestingly, a significant number of Canadians shop online. Statistics Canada reported that more than 50 per cent of online Canadians had used the Internet to order a good or service in 2012. In the U.S., only 33 per cent have done so.

Canadians tend to engage in ‘Internet-assisted’ shopping. ‘Showrooming’ – when a shopper uses a physical store to scope out a product then purchases it online – has become popular among Canadians. In a survey conducted by Accenture in September 2013, 63 per cent of Canadians stated that they ‘showroomed’. Seventy-four per cent of Canadians surveyed engaged in ‘webrooming’ – researching a product online before purchasing it in-store. Mobile is also assisting Canadians with shopping – 30 per cent of Canadians indicated that they use their mobile device to help with their in-store shopping.

Well established online retailers in the U.S. (like Amazon, J. Crew, L.L. Bean, etc.) have been successful at attracting Canadian customers. This accounts for the high numbers of Canadians who are online shopping, yet the relatively undeveloped domestic e-commerce marketplace. In fact, two out of every three dollars spent online by Canadians goes to U.S. retail website.

In order for Canada to be a competitive global digital leader, improvements must be made to Canadian small business and its online presence.

The top five types of good or service purchased by Canadians included the following:

Top five types of good or service purchased by Canadians

Source: Statistics Canada

The value of e-commerce in Canada rose to $22.3 billion in 2013 The value of e-commerce in Canada rose to $22.3 billion in 2013

Only 45.5% of Canadian businesses have a website Only 45.5% of Canadian businesses have a website

Mobile

While Canadians have generally been early adopters of technology, this was not the case for mobile up to this point. This was likely due to the robust landline telecommunications infrastructure that exists in Canada. However, mobile usage, especially with smartphones, has been steadily increasing among Canadians. In 2013, they were not unlike their global counterparts:

  • Six in 10 Canadians accessed the Internet via a mobile device in 2013.
  • Mobile subscribers grew by 10 per cent over the previous year, increasing to more than 22,000,000.
  • Smartphone ownership has increased to 57 per cent in Canada, well above the global average of 42 per cent.

Mobile subscribers in Canada, 2012 and 2013

ComScore: Mobile subscribers
in Canada, 2012 and 2013

Growth of smartphone ownership globally

Growth of smartphone ownership globally

Source: TNS Mobile Life

 

The majority of Canadians use their smartphone for accessing the Internet (82 per cent), but texting remained the top activity performed on their device. The top five activities performed on a smartphone by Canadians including the following:

  1. Texting (93 per cent).
  2. Taking photos/videos (91 per cent).
  3. Browsing the Internet (82 per cent).
  4. Calendar functionality (77 per cent).
  5. Applications (77 per cent).

Certain activities, like watching video on a mobile device, are increasing quickly. In fact, the percentage of smartphone users in Canada that use their device to watch video or television increased by 21 points since 2012 to 37 per cent in 2013.

Smartphone users are also using more innovative productivity features, such as Global Positioning System (43 per cent), scanning QR codes (26 per cent) and the ability to use programs like Microsoft Office (25 per cent). Twenty-eight per cent of Canadians use their mobile device to conduct banking activities, and 18 per cent have used their mobile device to pay for products or services (TNS Mobile).

Six in 10 Canadians access the Internet via a mobile device Six in 10 Canadians access the Internet via a mobile device

Smartphone ownership has increased to 57% in Canada, higher than the global average of 42% Smartphone ownership has increased to 57% in Canada, higher than the global average of 42%

The top activity Canadians perform on their smartphone is texting The top activity Canadians perform on their smartphone is texting

One third of mobile and tablet users anticipate that they will be using apps to access the Internet in 2 years One third of mobile and tablet users anticipate that they will be using apps to access the Internet in 2 years

28 per cent of Canadians use their mobile device to perform banking activities 28 per cent of Canadians use their mobile device to perform banking activities

26% of Canadians use a mobile device to access social networking services 26% of Canadians use a mobile device to access social networking services

Social media activity grew by 3% in Canada by 2013 Social media activity grew by 3% in Canada by 2013