Canadians Finally Ditching Landlines but Spending More on Smartphones and Home Internet

Posted by Jacob Serebrin

Consumer spending on communications has increased rapidly and an growing number of Canadians have given up their landlines, according to a Statistics Canada survey revealed on Wednesday.

The survey, which looks at household spending between 2010 and 2012, found that the average Canadian household spent $1,847 on communications, everything from phones and Internet to mail, in 2012. That’s an increase of over $100 from the 2010 average of $1,736.

That growth is being driven primarily by increased spending on cellphone and Internet services.

According to the survey, 15.7 per cent of Canadian households had no landline in 2012, and with fewer than one per cent of Canadians having no phone service, that means the far majority of those people are relying solely on their cellphones. That’s a jump from 2011, when only 12.8 per cent of households had given up their landlines.

While this change means that Canadians are spending less on landline services, an average of $446 in 2012, compared to $511 in 2010, they’re spending more on their cellphones.

The average household spent $832 on cellphone services in 2012, up from $731 in 2010. While Statistics Canada does include pager services in the same category, it seems unlikely that pager costs had much impact on overall averages during the years studied.

Over 81 per cent of Canadian households now have one or more cellphones, an increase of two percentage points from the year before.

The cellphone ownership percentage does differ quite widely from region to region. In Alberta 90.1 per cent of households had at least one cell phone compared to 72.8 per cent in Quebec.

Across the country, the number of cellphones in the average household is rising, 29.2 per cent had two cell phones in 2012, that number increased by around one percentage point a year during the preceding two years.

The number of households with three or more cell phones is rising slightly faster, but still remains low, reaching 16.7 per cent in 2012, compared with 14.9 per cent the year before.

Canadians are also spending more on the telephones themselves, an average of $80 a year, up from $53 in 2010. The average Canadian household also spent more to get online in 2012, $438. That’s up from $388 in 2010. All together, 81.5 per cent of Canadian households had the Internet at home in 2012, up from 78.4 in 2010.

But while 5.7 per cent of households connected to the Internet via regular phone line in 2010, that number dropped to 3.7 per cent in 2012. The number of people accessing the internet though high-speed phone services was also down, to 27.5 per cent from 31.9. However, the number of households with high-speed cable Internet was up to 36.8 per cent in 2012, from 34.2 per cent the year before.

The number of people accessing the Internet through exclusively wireless services, things like data plans, saw the biggest jump—reaching 13.3 per cent in 2012, up from 5.3 per cent in 2010.

This appears to be leading to a decline in the amount Canadians are spending on postal and courier services, in 2010, the average was $46 a year, by 2012 it was $39.

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Jacob Serebrin

Jacob Serebrin

Jacob Serebrin is a freelance reporter based in Montreal. He specializes in covering small business and the business of tech. His work has appeared in publications including The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. Having previously covered higher education and politics, he started covering business almost by accident, but talking to passionate people about interesting things soon had him... more




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