CRTC issues annual report on the state of the Canadian communication system

Ottawa-Gatineau, September 26, 2013 — Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued the 2013 edition of itsCommunications Monitoring Report, which provides an overview of the Canadian communication system.
“This year’s edition of the report contains a wealth of information and is intended to assist those that participate in our public proceedings,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “It is interesting to note that Canadians’ habits are evolving. More Canadians than ever are watching and listening to content on their computers, smartphones and tablets, yet the vast majority of programming is still accessed through traditional television and radio services.”
“While Canadians generally are well-served by their communication system, the Commission must remain vigilant and responsive to emerging trends and issues,” Mr. Blais added. “Canadians in rural parts of our country, and especially in the North, do not enjoy the same telecommunications services as those living in urban centres. We are working to provide those Canadians with an even greater choice.”
Canadians are accessing more content on different platforms
In 2012, Canadians spent almost the same amount of time listening to the radio and watching television as they did the previous year. They listened to an average of 17.5 hours of radio each week, compared to17.7 hours in 2011. Canadians also watched an average of 28.2 hours of television per week, down slightly from 28.5 hours. Collectively, they watched 931.3 million hours of television per week, 48.9% of which were Canadian programs.
At the same time, more than two out of four Canadians owned a smartphone and more than one out of four owned a tablet. Canadians used these devices, as well as computers and laptops, to access programming on digital platforms.
Thirty-three percent of Canadians watched Internet television; typical users watched 3 hours of Internet television per week, an increase from 2.8 hours in 2011. Six percent of Canadians watched programming on a tablet or smartphone, while 4% report watching television programming exclusively online.
In addition, 20% of Canadians streamed the signal of an AM or FM station over the Internet, 14% streamed audio content on a smartphone, 13% streamed a personalized Internet music service and 8% streamed audio on a tablet.
Overall, anglophones spent 20.1 hours per week online, while francophones spent 13 hours per week online.
In 2012, the broadcasting industry contributed $3.4 billion to the creation and promotion of Canadian programming, an increase of $263 million from the previous year.
Canadians are adopting smartphones and faster Internet services
Canadian families spent an average of $185 each month on communications services in 2012, compared to $181 the previous year. In particular, Canadians consumed more wireless data and subscribed to Internet services featuring higher broadband speeds.
Wireless services
Over 99% of Canadian households subscribed to either a wireless or home telephone service.
In 2012, there were 27.9 million Canadian wireless subscribers, an increase of 1.8% in one year, with an average of two wireless subscriptions per household. During the previous four years, the number of new subscribers had grown by an annual rate of 6% to 9%. Canadian families spent an average of $67 per month on wireless services, up from $61 the previous year.
While the three largest wireless companies accounted for 92% of all revenues, the smaller wireless companies increased their market share from 4% in 2011 to 5% in 2012. The reach of faster wireless networks, known as Long Term Evolution or LTE networks, continued to spread across the country. The number of Canadians that could access these networks jumped from 45% to 72%.
Home telephone services
Fewer Canadians had a traditional telephone in their homes, as the number of residential subscribers decreased by 2.1% to 11.9 million in 2012. Over the past five years, Canadians have made greater use of other technologies to communicate, resulting in the loss of more than 1 million telephone lines. During the same period, subscriptions to wireless services increased by 5.8 million.
In 2012, Canadian families spent an average of $35 on home telephone service, which was less than the $37 they spent the previous year.
Internet services
In 2012, Canadians subscribed to faster Internet services and spent more time online. By the end of the year, 79% of the 13.9 million households in Canada had an Internet subscription. The percentage of households that had download speeds of at least 5 megabits per second rose from 54% in 2011 to 62% in 2012. Canadian families spent an average of $31 per month on Internet services, which was slightly more than the $30 they spent the previous year.
Television services
In 2012, the number of households that subscribed to basic television service increased by 1% to 12 million. Over 68 percent of Canadians television subscribers obtained this service from a cable company, 24% from a satellite company and 8% from companies that deliver television programming over telephone lines (known as an Internet Protocol television service). Canadian families spent an average of $52 per month on television services, which was a few cents less than what they spent a year earlier.
Communication revenues surpass $60 billion
Overall revenues for the communication sector surpassed $60 billion for the first time in 2012, growing 2.3% to $60.7 billion. Revenues generated by broadcasting services increased by 1.4% to $16.8 billion, while those generated by telecommunications services climbed 2.7% to $43.9 billion.

Greater cooperation between CRTC and Competition Bureau to better serve Canadians

OTTAWA-GATINEAU, September 25, 2013 —The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Competition Bureau announced that they have signed a Letter of Agreement calling for closer cooperation between the two agencies. 
The agreement, among other things, calls for the sharing of best practices through joint training exercises of employees and knowledge transfer sessions, and provides for the creation of an employee exchange program.  The agencies have committed to semi-annual meetings between senior management to discuss further avenues for cooperation and collaboration.
“This agreement will allow us to build upon our longstanding relationship with the Competition Bureau in areas of mutual interest,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC.  “Through our combined efforts, Canadians will continue to have a choice of competitive, innovative and affordable broadcasting and telecommunications services.”
“The signing of this cooperation agreement will allow us to further strengthen our commitment to competition in the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors,” said John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition. “We look forward to continuing to work together towards our mutual goal of benefitting Canadian consumers by ensuring access to services at competitive prices.”
Both agencies exercise complementary roles in reviewing merger transactions within Canada’s communication industry. The CRTC is responsible for enforcing theBroadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act, while the Competition Bureau is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (except as it relates to food), the Textile Labelling Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act.

AT&T says “not enough room” for fourth telco in Canada: BNN report

TORONTO – U.S telecom giant AT&T decided against expanding north of the border citing “not enough room for four players in Canada”, according to a report aired Tuesday by BNN anchor Howard Green.
In a confidential memo obtained by BNN, a highly-placed telecom industry source wrote that AT&T had looked at Wind Mobile and Mobilicity “in detail” and passed.  BNN also reported that AT&T, Vodafone and Norway’s Telenor have all considered bidding for wireless spectrum in Canada.  Telenor is a 33% owner (with 43% voting rights) in Vimpelcom, the company that owns Wind Mobile.  Both AT&T and Telenor declined to comment on the BNN report.
The report added that a third person knowledgeable about the matter says an overseas foreign telco inquired about the upcoming spectrum auction, but was counseled not to bother. That source declined to identify the company.
U.S. carrier Verizon was believed to be interested in bidding for wireless spectrum in Canada in the 700 MHz auction which is scheduled for January, but its CEO put an end to those rumours earlier this month after the company announced it was purchasing Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless for US$130 billion.

The deadline to register for the 700 MHz spectrum auction was yesterday, September 17.

BlackBerry to Slash Workforce by Up to 40%

BlackBerry came out with a couple solid pieces of news today with the announcement of the 5-inch Z30 and a release date for BBM for Android and iPhone. However, lurking behind this all is a dark shadow of possible thousands of job cuts.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, ‘people familiar with the matter’ have Waterloo-based BlackBerry preparing to slash upward of 40% of its employees – that’s about 5,000 jobs – and will happen ‘in waves’ across all departments. BlackBerry declined to comment on the specific number, only that “Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing.”
BlackBerry axed 5,000 employees last year, plus recently cut 250 in July, then another 100 in August. Repeatedly they’ve stated “we are in the second phase of our transformation plan… Our evolution as a company is ongoing and is in no way easy.”
Perhaps this is one step that is needed for a possible November sale, or being split into several parts (OS and patents). BlackBerry recently announced plans to “explore strategic alternatives” that could lead towards a “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.”

Shaw Media launches new TV Everywhere product, Global Go

GlobaI Go will live stream the network 24/7 via web, iOS or Android platforms on smart phones, tablets and home computers anywhere in Canada, plus let viewers catch-up on entire seasons of more than 20 shows for up to 60 days after the finale (versus the 2-3 episodes which are currently available for catch-up).  Those shows include the likes of Rookie Blue, NCIS, Elementary and Hawaii 5.0.  It also includes a two week look-ahead schedule, and an interface with intuitive search and social integration features for sharing via Twitter and Facebook.
“We’re pleased to be the first conventional broadcaster in Canada to offer TV subscribers access to in-season catch up episodes of their favourite shows,” said Paul Robertson, Shaw Communications’ group VP broadcasting, and Shaw Media president, in the press release. “Canadians will love the flexibility and accessibility of Global Go and the platform provides new opportunities for our advertisers and distribution partners. It’s a solid step forward in our TV everywhere offering and in the coming months we are looking forward to working with our partners to roll out more anyplace access to our premium brands.”

Global Go launches September 12 initially with Shaw, Shaw Direct, Cogeco, Telus and Eastlink and Canadian Cable Systems Alliance distributors.  It will also be available through these partners on their set-top box video on demand (VOD) and on-line portals.

The upcoming 700 Mhz Canadian spectrum auction – 1 day before the deadline

WIND and Eastlink to participate in the upcoming 700 Mhz spectrum auction
The deadline for those to submit deposits is tomorrow (September 17th at noon) and it’s expected that the Big 3 will participate, but today WIND Mobile has confirmed they’ll make their presence known.
Wind Mobile stated that “WIND Mobile would like to announce its intention to enter the 700 Mhz auction. We have long maintained that there is a dire need for additional wireless spectrum in Canada to ensure the long-term success of any independent wireless provider. WIND Mobile has grown into Canada’s fourth national carrier, with over 650,000 subscribers, and we have no intention of stopping now. We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our long-term commitment to Canada and we look forward to bringing true mobile freedom to more Canadians.”
Looks like WIND is here to stay and determined to be Canada’s 4th national wireless carrier. In addition, the ‘over 650,000 subscribers’ is new. Last month they announced their Q2 numbers reached 620,451 – which is an increase of 30,000.
Public Mobile announced their participation in the 700 Mhz spectrum auction back in June, but there’s no word yet on Mobilicity.

East coast regional wireless carrier Eastlink has also confirmed its participating in the upcoming wireless auction in January. Lee Bragg, EastLink’s CEO, confirmed they’ll make their mark and bid for spectrum, stating “I would definitely like some 700 MHz spectrum… That’s likely all I’m allowed to say.”

Bell cuts U.S. roaming rates

Bell said Monday that due to customer demand, it will cut the prices of its most popular plans for United States mobile data, voice and text roaming by 50%.  

Effective today, the cost for its 30-day travel bundle will drop from $50 to $25 for a specified amount of calls, text and data, while the add-on package for heavy users will cost $20, down from $40.

“During the summer, Canadians told the federal government that they support wireless competition and strongly believe the wireless rules should be the same for all carriers, Canadian or international”, said Bell Mobility president Wade Oosterman, in the announcement.  “But Canadians also told us that they want to use their smartphones a lot when they travel, and they want the price to come down. We heard you and today Bell is cutting in half the cost of mobile roaming where Canadians travel the most: the USA.”

Bell hinted that it may also cut roaming fees for other countries as well, pledging to renegotiate its agreements with its other international telecom suppliers.