Canadian Internet Has a Ways to Go: eMarketer

If you like to drink redeye with Digby chicken followed by a Nanaimo bar, you are probably north of the US-Canada border. But online things get even stranger up there …

SEPTEMBER 7, 2007 – In many respects, Canada is an online powerhouse.

According to eMarketer estimates, the country has a slightly higher proportion of its population online than the United States.

In broadband penetration and affordability, Canada rivals the US and other developed countries.

Figures from Ipsos Insight indicate that more than seven in 10 active Canadian Internet users had a high-speed connection in the last two months of 2006. The data mirrored the level of broadband access in the US, although Canada had a lower percentage of its population using dial-up.

In addition, young Canadians are avid, experienced online users. Internet access in the workplace is beginning to catch up with very healthy rates of household connection. Canadian consumers spend above-average time online and count themselves among the world’s keenest bloggers.

So why does Canada continue to lag behind in some areas of online development, such as e-commerce?

“E-commerce has been slow to take off in the absence of retailers and online offerings that genuinely address Canadian tastes and requirements,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, Canada Internet: Users and Usage. “Moreover, Canada’s mobile networks and operators are not as well prepared as they should be to supply reliable data services at competitive prices.”

Historically, workplace access to the Internet has not been nearly as common as home access in Canada, although the gap is shrinking.

Also, large parts of the country are not well served by Internet connections.

According to BBM Analytics, Internet uptake varies substantially from one part of Canada to another. The French-speaking province of Quebec still trails other regions in access and Internet use.

“These social, technical and commercial obstacles threaten to hold Canada back when the country should be setting online standards for North America and the rest of the world,” Ms. von Abrams said.

There are signs of improvement, however.

“Canada has a long-standing commitment to the Internet and broadband in particular,” Ms. von Abrams said. “The online population continues to rise in substantial increments, and robust broadband infrastructure will bring high-speed services to almost all citizens within a few years.”

To find out more about how the Canadian Internet is changing, please read the new eMarketer report, Canada Internet: Users and Usage, today.

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