by Eric Perelshtein, Account Director, Canada
Canada has a long history in communications. Marconi received the first confirmed cross Atlantic radio transmission on December 17th, 1902 at the Marconi station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. Alexander Graham Bell moved to Canada as a child and conducted most of his research and experiments at his home in Brantford, Ontario. The work Bell conducted at his Brantford home led to the patents for the first telephone.
Today, global mobile communications leaders such as Waterloo Ontario's Research In Motion, creators of the ubiquitous BlackBerry, continue to keep Canada at the leading edge of mobile technology. Waterloo, Ontario is also home to the main campus of Sybase Canada and iAnywhere Solutions. (Note: Waterloo's popularity is due, in large part to the pool of students coming from the world renowned University of Waterloo which specializes in computer science, engineering and mathematics.)
Over the past several decades, Canada has embraced wireless technology. At the end of September 2007, Canadian wireless phone subscribers approached 20 million in number, representing a national wireless penetration rate of nearly 70%. Urban penetration rates are significantly higher ranging from 70% to 80% in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. It is predicted that by 2012, the mobile market will add another 7 million subscribers and mobile penetration with reach 85%.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found mobile phone customers in Canada enjoy some of the most competitive wireless prices among the 30 member countries of the OECD. According to the OECD's recently published biennial Communications Outlook 2007, Canadian customers fare significantly better than their neighbors in the US and Mexico in almost all usage categories.
The Canadian market is split between the "Big Three" Mobile companies. Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility account for 37%, 31% and 28% of the market respectively. Their nearest competitor, MTS, accounts for only 2% of the market.
Of the Big Three, only Rogers Wireless operates a GSM network. As the sole GSM player in Canada's mobile market, Rogers recently announced the soon-to-be launch of Apple's iPhone. Introduced in the US months ago, Apple's mobile entry will only be (officially) available in Canada later this year. The introduction is likely to come with more aggressive data plan pricing which should speed up mobile web adoption rates and usher in a new era of Canadian mobile development.
Canadian mobile subscribers have embraced text messaging. A key contributing factor to the rise of Canadian messaging is the free to end user model. Unlike their neighbors to the south, Canadian SMS recipients do not pay for their incoming messages. In 2006 Canadians sent 4.3 Billion text messages, up from 1.5 Billion in 2005. That number continues to grow at breakneck speed. According to the latest data compiled by the CWTA, Canadians are now sending over 40 Million SMS messages each day!
Canada has, to this point, often been overlooked by US mobile advertisers but represents incredible potential and easy access. Roughly 90% of the population lives within 160 kilometers (100 Miles) of the US border. The majority of the Canadian population, about 60% is concentrated within a thin belt of land representing 2.2% of the land between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City. This stretch includes the huge metropolitan populations of Toronto and Montreal as well as Ottawa, the national Capital.
The close proximity to the US means that Canadians share US TV and Radio signals and are consistently exposed to US media outlets. The vast majority of Canadian residents speak only English while most Quebecers are bilingual.
As US mobile markets mature, Canada's wealthy, educated and mobile savvy population is a natural growth opportunity? and it's only a few miles away!