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CRTC report reveals low-income Canadians spending up to 8% of monthly income on communications services

Lower cost options are desperately needed to ensure that people are not left behind

August 16, 2018 — Today the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released part of its annual Communications Monitoring Report, examining the subscriptions and expenses that Canadian households have for communications services, between 2012-2016. While home Internet and mobile adoption rates are increasing, lack of affordability remains a serious concern.

The report, which aggregates data from Statistics Canada and the CRTC, holds few surprises. As mobile and home Internet subscriptions are increasing, we’re seeing television and landline phone subscriptions decrease at a significantly higher rate. And lower income communities continuing to be disproportionately penalized for accessing Basic Services.

“Today’s report only further demonstrates what we’ve known for years: Canadians are living in a digital world increasingly leaning towards mobile and home Internet services, but those in lower income brackets, or rural areas, are being underserved and overcharged,” said OpenMedia Digital Rights Advocate Katy Anderson. “The idea that anyone should be spending eight per cent of their income towards communications services is absurd, and unfair. We need more affordable options now.”

Highlights from the report include:

  • The average Canadian household spends $223 on communication services each month

  • Canadian households are spending an average of $92per month on mobile services

  • 12.6% of Canadian households do not have a home Internet subscription

  • 12.1% of Canadian households do not have a mobile phone

  • Households within the first income quintile (annual income of $32,090 or less), allocate 8.6% of their annual income towards communications services.

  • Throughout 2012–2016, mobile revenues increased 4.5% annually, and landline revenues decreased by 5.6% annually. During this period, mobile revenue growth outpaced subscriber growth.

  • Rural households spend almost $10 more per month on communications services than urban households. As the CRTC notes, the difference “reflects the slightly higher prices offered in rural areas, where there are typically fewer service providers.”

Nearly 700 Canadians have called Industry Minister Navdeep Bains’ office over the past weeks, demanding he step in to increase competition in our mobile markets and lower cell phone bills, via https://lowermycellbill.ca.

And more than 10,000 people have joined the call for the federal government to implement a National Broadband Strategy to meet the CRTC’s targets for the Internet as a Basic Service at https://act.openmedia.org/broadband-plan.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.

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