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Canadians have some of the lowest mobile data usages in the world, and the slowest uptake for data usage, the telecoms in the country make the highest profits for data plans, according to a new report.

The telecom analysis firm, Tefficient, looked at data usage per SIM card (basically, per individual phone) across 36 countries in 2017, and found that people in just five countries use less data than Canadians: Greece, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Canadians, on average, used just 1.3 GB of mobile data per month in 2017. Even worse is that the data used in Canada grew just six per cent in 2018, which is the lowest rate of growth in the world, according to the Tefficient report.

US operators also extract a high rate of profit per gigabyte used, but less than Canadian telecoms, according to the report. Americans also used more data per month, coming to an average of 3.3 GB.

Countries, where telecoms made less revenue per gigabyte of mobile data, had more mobile data usage and higher uptake – telecoms in India, just to give you an example, made the lowest revenue per gigabyte and the country had a 300 percent growth in data usage last year. According to Tefficient, telecoms in Canada make 35 times more profit on data than Indian telecoms.

A winning strategy for telecoms would be to be more generous with their data plans and accept a mid-range of revenue per gigabyte of data used, which the report suggests.

However, that is unlikely to happen. Canada's telecom industry is notoriously moribund, with just three established players making up a kind of oligopoly that account for the vast majority of mobile subscriptions in the country.

According to Motherboard "It’s one of Canada’s many curious ironies that a company headquartered in Toronto runs a successful affordable mobile phone service in the US – Ting by Tucows – but has thus far been unable to operate in its home country."

It’s this lack of choice, and the high prices Canadians pay for data, that makes hating on telecoms a third national sport behind hockey and lacrosse.


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