Facts & Figures

World-Leading Wireless Networks

Despite having a population spread across vast regions, Canada’s facilities-based carriers have implemented some of the world’s fastest and most reliable wireless networks, reaching every province and territory.

  • Canadian wireless subscribers enjoy the fastest average mobile download connection speeds in the world, 287% faster than the global average. (Opensignal, The State of Mobile Network Experience, 2020)
  • In Canada, average mobile download speeds are faster than all other G7 countries plus Australia, and over 123% faster than average download speed found in the United States. (Opensignal, The State of Mobile Network Experience, 2020)
  • Long term evolution (LTE) networks, which deliver higher speeds than previous generation networks, are available to 99.5% of Canadians. LTE-advanced (LTE-A) networks, offering even higher speeds than LTE, are now available to 95% of Canadians, a 3 point increase over the previous year. (CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report, 2019)
  • Canadian networks are also remarkably consistent, ranking 2nd out of 77 countries in the consistency of LTE speeds that wireless users experience throughout the day – 46% more consistent than U.S. networks. (OpenSignal, The 5G Opportunity, February 2019)
  • In describing the state of Canada’s mobile wireless networks, OpenSignal states: “There’s no question Canada is a global 4G superpower today. That likely means there are few other countries better prepared than Canada to deploy the 5G networks of the future.” (OpenSignal, State of Mobile Networks: Canada, February 2018)


Canada’s leadership in wireless is possible only because of the significant investments made by Canadian facilities-based carriers.

Capital Expenditures

  • Canadian operators’ investment in telecommunications as a percentage of revenue is 1st in the G7 and 4th amongst OECD nations. (OECD Digital Economy Outlook, October 2017)
  • Facilities-based wireless carriers in Canada generate the most capital expenditure per subscriber among the G7 and Australia. (Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Global Wireless Matrix, December 2018)
  • Canada’s facilities-based wireless carriers have invested over $70 billion in building Canada’s wireless networks (i.e. from 1987 to April, 2019 – over $50 billion in capital expenditures, with a further $17.6 billion in spectrum acquisition, and the remainder in annual spectrum license fees). (Historical data from Nordicity, CRTC, CWTA and BAML)
  • It is estimated that, between 2020 and 2026, $26 billion will be spent in deploying 5G infrastructure in Canada, with most of such investment being made by Canada’s facilities-based wireless operators. (Accenture, Fuel for Innovation, 2018)


  • Facilities-based wireless service providers have provided the Canadian government with over $17.6 billion in spectrum auction revenues between the years 1987-2019. (Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), Government of Canada)
  • Canada’s wireless service providers pay annual spectrum licence fees in excess of $180 million each year – nearly two-thirds of the total fees collected by Industry Canada from all spectrum users. (CWTA statistics collected from ISED)
  • In total, these providers have paid approximately $3.7 billion in spectrum license fees between 1987-2018. (CWTA statistics collected from ISED)
  • Based on annual spectrum licence fees, Canadian service providers pay the government more than 20 times per subscriber than their US counterparts. (CWTA statistics collected from the US Federal Communications Commission and ISED)

Canadians Increasingly Rely on Wireless Services

Wireless services have become an integral part of Canadians’ lives. Whether to stay in touch with family and friends, consume content, or work while on the move, wireless services have become indispensable for most Canadians.

  • As December 2019, there were 33.2 million wireless subscriptions in Canada. (CWTA statistics, not including additional subscriptions from Canadian wireless providers who do not publish subscriber data)
  • More Canadians have mobile phones (90.18%) than landlines (41.25%), while approximately one third of Canadian households rely exclusively on wireless services. (CRTC, CMR: Telecommunications Overview, 2018; CMR: Communications Services in Canadian Households, 2018)

Data Consumption Continues Strong Growth

Canadians consume more wireless data than ever, and the speed and reach of Canada’s leading mobile wireless networks allow them to do this.  Forecasts indicate that this growth will continue for the foreseeable future.

  • In 2017, Canada’s mobile data traffic grew 38%. It will grow 4-fold from 2017 to 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 34%. (Cisco, VNI Forecast Highlights, 2018)
  • In Canada, mobile video traffic will grow 5-fold from 2017-2022, a compound growth rate of 40%. (Cisco VNI Forecast Highlights, 2018)
  • Video will be 81% of mobile data traffic in Canada by 2022, compared to 64% at the end of 2017. (Cisco VNI Forecast Highlights, 2018)
  • By 2022, mobile data traffic in Canada will be equivalent to 2x the volume of what the entire Canadian internet was in 2005. (Cisco VNI Forecast Highlights, 2018)
  • When taking both wireless networks and Wi-Fi into account, the average smartphone in North America will generate approximately 45 GB of traffic per month by the year 2025. (Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2019)
  • In 2018, 85.3% of Canadian wireless subscribers had data plans providing 1 GB or more of use per month. Among them, 23% had plans with 1-2 GB of data, 17.5% had plans with 3-4 GB of data, and 39.5% had plans providing 5 GB or more of data use per month. (CRTC, CMR: Retail Mobile Sector, 2019).
  • Consumers with a data plan consumed 23.4% more data per month in Canada in 2018 than the previous year. In 2018, Canadian mobile subscribers as a whole consumed 26.3% more data per month than in 2017 – this was 232% more monthly data than 2014. (CRTC, CMR: Retail Mobile Sector, 2019)
  • The average smartphone in North America generates 8.5 GB of traffic per month when including data over both wireless networks and Wi-Fi. (Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2019)
  • When taking both wireless networks and Wi-Fi into account, the average smartphone in North America will generate approximately 45 GB of traffic per month by the year 2025. (Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2019)

Economic Impact

Canada’s mobile wireless industry has not only transformed the way in which Canadians communicate, work, and play, it also fuels economic growth and innovation.

  • It is estimated that by 2026, the annual GDP impact of introducing 5G in Canada will be $40 billion. (Accenture, Fuel for Innovation, 2018)
  • Through the adoption of 5G, approximately 250,000 permanent jobs will be added to the economy by 2026. (Accenture, Fuel for Innovation, 2018)
  • Nearly 150,000 short-term jobs will be created in construction and engineering when Canada’s 5G networks are built between 2020-2026. (Accenture, Fuel for Innovation, 2018)
  • In 2018, Canada’s wireless industry generated 327,000 full-time equivalent jobs as a result of its activities. (Nordicity, The Benefits of the Wireless Telecommunications Industry to the Canadian Economy, January 2020)
  • Taking into account direct, indirect and induced impacts, the Canadian wireless industry generated a total contribution of $48.2 billion in GDP to the Canadian economy in 2018. (Nordicity, January 2020)

Industry Reports

Industry Statistics

Canadian wireless subscriber numbers: