Canadians Going Online and Going at High Speeds

When it comes to per household Internet access, Canada is the world leader, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found that nearly half of the Canadian population is now online.

The Canadian Consumer Technology Study 2000 study found that 48.2 percent of Canadians are online, compared to 43 percent in the US, 38 percent in Australia, and 26 percent in Europe. Canadians also lead in the average hours of Internet use per week with 5.1 hours/week, up from 3.9 hours/week last year. The net average hours per week online in Europe was 3.2 hours, while Australia was 3.6. The US average hours spent online fell to 4.2 from 5.3 in 1999, which may be a sign that as Americans become more comfortable online, they make more efficient use of their online time.

In Canada, where household Internet access rose to 48 percent from 43 percent in 1999, the province of Quebec saw household Internet penetration grow from 29 percent in 1999 to 42 percent in 2000. Quebec leads France and other European nations in Internet penetration, including the UK and Germany. The reasons consumers in Quebec used the Internet were similar to the rest of Canada, with email and research and information topping the list. But respondents to the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey in Quebec cited downloading music and using chat rooms as more popular reasons for going online than the rest of Canada.

Of Canadian household Internet users, 22 percent are using high-speed Internet connections, including cable modems (18 percent) and DSL (4 percent). In 1999, only 18 percent of Canadian Internet users had high-speed connections.

“Clearly, high-speed connections are on the rise. However, today’s high-speed market is still largely an early adopter market. To sign up the general population, service providers will have to develop more compelling value propositions,” said Peter Lyman, leader of the Information Communications and Entertainment/Media (ICE) practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Canada. “Our data highlights the fact that cost is the primary deterrent holding back the migration of consumers to high speed.”

Hours/Week on Internet Use
Country Hours/Week
Canada 5.1
US 4.2
Australia 3.6
Europe 3.2
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Of the Canadians in the study who do not have Internet access, 24.3 percent said they expect to get access within a year. Of this segment, 29.2 percent said they were considering high-speed access. Only Germany, where ISDN is widely available, has more high-speed access than Canada.

Throughout Canada, research and information (92.2 percent) and email (93.2 percent) are the top reasons for using the Internet. Interest in online banking rose to 45 percent in 2000, up from 36 percent in 1999. Shopping increased from 22 percent to 28 percent.

In 1999, 38 percent of Canadians said they would watch TV if they weren’t online. In 2000, only 32 percent said they would be watching TV if they weren’t online. Reading (38 percent) was the most mentioned thing Canadian Internet users said they would be doing if they weren’t online.

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