The country's telecom regulator says Canadians are demanding more, and faster, internet access, especially on mobile devices.

But critics say services at the target speeds — that the CRTC has asked internet providers to make available to all Canadians — are too expensive for most to afford.

In its annual communications monitoring report, the CRTC says there were three million more mobile broadband subscriptions taken out by Canadians in 2016 compared with the previous year, a 13.3 per cent increase.

And, the regulator says, Canadians used an average of 1.2 gigabytes of data a month on their wireless devices, a 25 per cent hike from 2015.

Average monthly consumption of data using home internet connections was also up by more than 23 per cent in 2016 compared with the previous year, reaching 128.3 gigabytes, said the report.

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Canadians used an average of 1.2 gigabytes of data a month on their wireless devices, a 25 per cent hike from 2015. (iModDesign/Shutterstock)

The CRTC said that, over the last five years, monthly data used by Canadians increased by an average of 40 per cent annually.

In December 2016, the CRTC declared broadband internet a basic and essential service, as it had decades earlier for telephone landlines. At that time, it also set targets for internet service providers to offer customers in all parts of the country download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps, and to also offer the option of unlimited data.

The new report shows that while 84 per cent of Canadians live in areas where those speeds are commercially available, only 11 per cent subscribe.

OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based group that advocates for an open internet, suggested that's because it's too expensive.

"Even though those speeds are becoming available, the cost is still so prohibitive that nine in 10 Canadians haven't made the jump to the the same speeds the CRTC said were essential for all to participate meaningfully online in 2017," said Katy Anderson, the group's digital rights advocate, in a statement.

 

With files from CBC News