Telecommunications Sector Directly Contributes Nearly $81 Billion to Canadian Economy and Supports Nearly 782,000 Jobs Across Industries, New Report Shows

Telecommunications Sector Directly Contributes Nearly $81 Billion to Canadian Economy and Supports Nearly 782,000 Jobs Across Industries, New Report Shows

Canada NewsWire

PwC report finds Canadian telecom providers have lowered prices for consumers while continuing to invest more in their networks than their international peers, empowering a greater number of Canadians to access the enhanced connectivity that is vital to growing the digital economy and increasing Canada's labour productivity.

TORONTO, June 17, 2024 /CNW/ - Canada's telecommunications sector is powering the Canadian economy and helping combat inflation while laying the foundation for future economic growth and productivity gains, a new report says.

In a report commissioned by the Canadian Telecommunications Association entitled Driving Canada's productivity: The impact of the telecom sector and its role in improving productivity, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says the telecommunications sector continues to play an important part in the Canadian economy, contributing $80.8 billion to the Canadian GDP and supporting nearly 782,000 jobs across industries in 2023.

The report finds the telecommunications sector invested $11.4 billion in capital investments in 2023 to continue expanding, enhancing, and strengthening Canada's world-class wireless and broadband networks. This amounts to reinvestment of 42.6% more per subscriber, on average, than service provider peers in the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe.

Notably, the report says these significant investments were made despite a steady decline in Canadian telecom prices, with cellular and internet access service prices falling 26.2% and 15.5%, respective, from March 2023 to March 2024.

In addition to the telecom industry's current economic contributions, PwC estimates the sector could deliver an additional $112 billion to the Canadian GDP by 2035 and help drive a rebound in Canadian productivity by enabling the digital transformation of Canada's economy. In a period when slumping productivity has led to a relative decline in Canadian living standards and threatens to impact the nation's ability to compete on the global economic stage, telecom industry investments that drive growth in other industries are increasingly important to the country's broader economic progress.  

"At a time when Canada's productivity is facing significant challenges, the telecommunications sector is laying the essential groundwork for a more prosperous economic future," said John Simcoe, National Media & Telecom Lead at PwC Canada. "By continuing to invest heavily in our networks, even amid declining prices and rising costs, Canadian telecom providers are not only enhancing connectivity for millions of Canadians but also setting the stage for substantial productivity gains and economic growth. Continued investment in digital infrastructure is essential for Canada to realize its productivity potential and sustain economic growth."

"Canada's telecom sector is integral to our country's economic growth and digital future. By continually upgrading our networks and extending services to underserved areas, our industry is fostering greater economic opportunity, inclusivity and productivity," said Robert Ghiz, President and CEO of the Canadian Telecommunications Association. "To sustain and enhance these contributions and ensure we can keep building a robust digital future for all Canadians, it is essential that we have a stable regulatory environment that encourages continued investment."

Key Findings from the Report:

Economic Impact

  • The telecom industry directed contributed an estimated $80.8 billion to Canada's GDP in 2023 (up more than 5% from $76.7 billion in 2022) and supported approximately 782,000 jobs across Canadian industries (up 8% from 724,000 in 2022)*.
  • Enhanced connectivity including 5G has the potential to contribute an additional $112 billion to Canada's overall GDP by 2035 by empowering individuals and businesses to connect to the digital economy.

Investment

  • The Canadian telecom sector invested $11.4 billion in capital expenditures in 2023 to expand and enhance connectivity for Canadian homes and businesses.
  • Canadian telecom providers reinvested 17.9% of service revenues in 2023, on average, exceeding the average reinvestment rates in the U.S. (14.6%), Australia (11.7%) and Europe (13.6%).
  • Canadian telecom providers invested 42.6% more per subscriber, on average, than their peers in the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe.

Declining Prices

  • The cost of cellular services dropped by 26.2% from March 2023 to March 2024 while the cost of internet access services fell by 15.5% during this same period.
  • While the cost of cellular services declined by 41% in Canada between 2020 and 2024, prices in the U.S. and U.K. increased by 2% and 14%, respectively, over the same period.
  • Even as costs decline, Canadians are using more data. Average monthly mobile subscriber data traffic increased by 25% from 2022 to 2023, while average monthly broadband subscriber data usage has doubled since 2019.

Expanding Coverage

  • By 2023, 99.7% of Canadians had access to mobile wireless network coverage where they work and live, and 93.5% of Canadian homes and businesses had broadband internet access.
  • Service providers are committed to bridging the digital divide and have made good progress in bringing advanced connectivity to First Nations reserves, in particular, increasing the availability of 50/10 Mbps internet access to First Nations communities by 85% since 2016.

Sector Challenges and Opportunities

  • The report highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the telecom sector, including decreasing prices, high borrowing costs, increased competition from multinational over-the-top (OTT) players, rising network costs, and climate-related risks.
  • Despite headwinds, the sector remains a critical driver of Canada's prosperity through its contributions to GDP, job creation, and investments in digital infrastructure.
  • The continued enhancement and expansion of advanced telecommunications networks is vital to sustain growth in the digital economy and to increase national productivity. The report points to the Bank of Canada's findings that there is a positive correlation between investment in digital infrastructure, the adoption of ICT, and the growth of labour productivity.

"These findings underscore the essential role of our sector in driving Canada's digital economy," said the telecommunications association's Ghiz. "As we continue to invest in and enhance our networks, we are not only improving connectivity but also driving economic opportunities for all Canadians."

Driving Canada's productivity: The impact of the telecom sector and its role in improving productivity can be found at https://canadatelecoms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Driving-Canadas-Productivity.pdf

*2022 figures based on previous Canadian Telecommunications Association commissioned report

About the Canadian Telecommunications Association

The Canadian Telecommunications Association is dedicated to building a better future for Canadians through connectivity. Our members include service providers, equipment manufacturers, and other organizations in the telecommunications ecosystem, that invest in, build, maintain and operate Canada's world-class telecommunications networks. Through our advocacy initiatives, research, and events, we work to promote the importance of telecommunications to Canada's economic growth and social development and advocate for policies that foster investment, innovation, and positive outcomes for consumers. We also facilitate industry initiatives, such as the Mobile Giving Foundation CanadaCanadian Common Short CodesSTAC and wirelessaccessibility.ca

SOURCE Canadian Telecommunications Association

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