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Telecom Outlook 2007

The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) just released their Communications Outlook 2007 report, that gives an overview of member states’ communication (mobile, broadband, broadcast, telephony etc) infrastructure, usage, pricing, etc.

Michael Geist gives a brief review of the report, and extracts these key points:

  • Canada ranked second last in the OECD for the total number of mobile subscribers. For medium mobile users, Canadian plans ranked among the most expensive in the OECD.
  • Canada placed far behind other countries for innovation. For example, Bell Canada was the only Canadian telecom provider to obtain patents in the United States with four since 2003. By comparison, AT&T, British Telecom, NTT, France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, and Korea Telecom have all obtained dozens (or hundreds) of patents in that same time frame.
  • Canadian investment in telecommunications was average, trailing countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, and the UK.
  • The OECD found that, on average, mobile revenue per subscriber dropped from 2003 to 2005 due to increased competition. In Canada, revenue increased during that period.
  • The report reconfirms Canada’s sinking ranking in broadband subscribers along with its relatively high prices for broadband (18th in both monthly pricing and per MB pricing)

All are worrying, but I find #2 (lack of patents) the most indicative of long-term problems on the horizon in Canada.

And, in related iPhone news, Patrick links to an article that says:

Until Canadian companies can offer cheaper [mobile data] plans so that everyone will want one, iPhone won’t be coming to Canada.


  1. Hugh Hugh 2007-07-19

    interesting… underlying theory would be?:
    -low density = high cost
    -high income = high payment ability


  2. Chris Hughes Chris Hughes 2007-07-19

    Yes. A mobile phone mast used by many people would recoup its costs quickly, thus cost effective. The mobile phone population must be some sort of function of income and overall population.
    In the UK we have high population density and high income, so high mobile phone use (also deregulated…) EVERYONE has a mobile – you get a free phone with a plan of £25 a month, and a blackberry free with a plan of £45 a month.
    In the USA, high income, but lower population density, so mobile phone use seems to be lower than in the UK (certainly outside major conurbations) – also, it seems expensive to British eyes.
    In Canada – very low population density overall, but high income(?)
    In Japan – very high Pop Den – very high income – very pervasive mobile (3G) – cheapest and fastest broadband in the world.

  3. Hugh Hugh 2007-07-19

    how to account for the huge success of mobile in lowish pop density/low income countries, eg south africa.

    also, just a note on canadian pop density, though our data is among the lowest in the world, at 3.2 ppl/, that population is concentrated in a band of a few hundred kilometers along the southern border with the USA. so the effective density, as it applies to mobile towers, is much higher, tho certainly nothing like the UK.

  4. Hugh Hugh 2007-07-19

    oh, also for comparison on these issues, australia should be canada’s yardstick, with similar pop density and similar economy. see this graph to see how mobile *data* rates differ:

    (the red bars are canadian providers).

  5. Chris Hughes Chris Hughes 2007-07-19

    Hmm. Don’t know. We could fall back on the ‘Canadian Telcos are baddies, as opposed to the rest of the world’ theory? :)

    But first, I wonder if data rates are indicative of voice rates…

    In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise that I don’t know. So I will stop theorising.

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