Canadians among world’s heaviest internet users

Canadians generate more internet traffic per capita than any other nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development except South Korea, an OECD report says.

Canada lags in mobile voice, data subscriptions

Canadians generate more internet traffic per capita than any other nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development except South Korea.

For every 100,000 inhabitants, Canada generates 2,288 terabytes of data traffic per month from internet use, video on demand and mobile data, said the group's Communications Outlook 2011 report, released this week.

That is roughly the amount of data traffic that would be generated by transmitting 500,000 DVDs and is slightly higher than U.S. data traffic per 100,000 inhabitants, even though the report noted that video on demand use is very high in the U.S.

The report showed that Canada's average prices for high-speed internet plans with speeds above 2.5 megabits per second were in the top third among surveyed OECD countries in September 2010. For example, plans between 2.5 and 15 megabits per second averaged $55.18 US, compared to a median of $39.23 US for all 33 countries surveyed. For connections below 2.5 megabits per second, Canadian prices were close to the OECD average.

The survey looked at advertised prices for three internet providers in each country, including the one with the biggest market share and the top cable internet provider.

Telus said in a statement that it thinks "Canada does fine in the OECD broadband rankings, especially when you consider we are stacked up against countries with far denser populations that are less expensive to connect." It noted that its prices were not included, but that it thought the average would have been improved by including Telus.

Some other findings of the OECD report were that:

  • The average measured internet connection speed in Canada in the second quarter of 2010 was 4.7 megabits per second, slightly faster than the OECD median of 4.1 megabits per second, but much slower than Korea's average of 16.6 megabits per second.
  • Just 0.41 per cent of Canadians have ultra-fast fibre internet connections, putting fibre penetration in Canada near the bottom among 27 countries that advertised fibre internet. (The U.S. and the U.K. were not listed.)
  • Canada was one of four countries where 100 per cent of offers by the three internet service providers surveyed included a cap on the amount of data for a given price. In most other countries, some or all providers did not have such a cap. However, the average cap in Canada was 96 gigabytes, higher than in most other countries where caps existed, including Australia and New Zealand.

Wireless internet growth soars

A worldwide trend highlighted by the report was the huge growth of wireless broadband subscriptions, which had surpassed 500 million by the end of 2010. That was an increase of more than 10 per cent since June 2010. Canada has 30.4 wireless broadband internet subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, putting it below the OECD average of 41.6.

That may be partly because Canada had the lowest number of cellular subscriptions per 100 people in 2009 — 71, compared to the OECD average of 103 (due in part to multiple subscriptions per customer).

However, wireless internet use seems to be growing quickly. The report noted that in 2009, Bell and Rogers were among four internet providers in the OECD that had mobile data revenue growth higher than 30 per cent year over year.