Internet Usage In Canada Soared 40 Per Cent In A Year. Here's Why.

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Canadians have gone wild on their Internet data usage over the past year, and for Canada’s telecoms, the Internet is now a bigger business — by revenue — than television, according to a report from Canada’s telecom regulator.

The CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report for 2016 found broadband Internet usage jumped 40 per cent from 2014 to 2015, while mobile data usage saw an even larger 44-per-cent spike.

The average Canadian household now downloads 93 gigabytes of data per month.

internet
A man uses a digital tablet in this stock photo. (Photo: Yongyuan Dai/Getty Images)

“The explosive growth in data consumption clearly demonstrates that Canadians are relying more and more on streaming and real-time communication applications to consume content and communicate with the world,” CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement.

As Internet usage boomed, traditional television consumption declined slightly. TV revenues shrank by 3.4 per cent, the CRTC report said, to $7.1 billion.

communication spending

Meanwhile, telecoms are now making more money off providing Internet services than TV cable or satellite TV. They brought in $9.8 billion in revenue from Internet services, compared to $8.9 billion from distributing TV. As recently as two years ago, TV revenues were $1 billion higher than Internet revenues.

Overall, Canadians’ spending on telecommunications (TV, Internet, phone and wireless) rose only slightly in 2014, to an average of about $215 per month, from $212 per month the year before, the CRTC report said. The country’s five largest telcos — Bell, Quebecor, Rogers, Shaw and Telus — continued to dominate the marketplace, taking 82 per cent of telecom revenues in 2015.

Here are some of the reasons why Internet data usage is exploding in Canada:

netflix
(Photo: The Associated Press/Elise Amendola)

Streaming TV

Canadians are increasingly choosing Netflix and other streaming services over traditional TV. In 2014, some 29 per cent of anglophone Canadian households subscribed to Netflix; that number rose to nearly 40 per cent in the space of a year.

open highway
(Photo: Lowestock via Getty Images)

Unlimited data plans

The big telecoms instituted “data caps” on Internet downloads and uploads about half a decade ago, and now they’re heading back in the other direction. Major providers including Rogers and Cogeco started offering unlimited Internet plans over the past few years. That’s making it easier to use a lot of bandwidth.

The CRTC report found the share of Canadians with very high speed Internet connections (50 Mbps and up) doubled in the past year, from eight per cent of Internet customers to 16 per cent.

But those plans are pricey: Rogers’ unlimited Plan in the Toronto area will run you $149 a month. That may help to explain the large jump in Internet service revenue over the past few years.

4k tv
A Sony 65" 4K LED TV at the International Consumer Electronics Show Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (Photo: Associated Press/Jack Dempsey)

HD and 4K

As consumers increasingly watch high-definition or even ultra-high definition programming, bandwidth usage is rising. Some of the major telecoms are currently expanding their infrastructure and product offerings to adapt to the 4K era.

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