StatsCAN Plus

So long landline, hello smartphone

May 11, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

The first telephone call was made just over 147 years ago in Brantford, Ontario, when  inventor Alexander Graham Bell beckoned: "Mr. Watson, come here—I want to see you." If he made that call today, he may have texted the message on a smartphone, taken a selfie and added an emoji.

While the old-fashioned landline that Bell would recognize is fading from view, todays smartphones play an increasingly important role in our lives. In fact, just over half of Canadian smartphone users started (53%) or ended (51%) their day by checking their device in 2020.

Most young Canadians have cut the cord on landlines, while seniors hang on

Just under half of Canadian households (45%) reported they had a cellphone and no landline in 2019, up from 10% in 2010. Nearly 85% of Canadian households with a respondent under 30 years old reported they had a cellphone and no landline in 2019.

This rate falls to approximately half for households with a respondent aged 40 to 54 (49%) and one-third for households with respondents aged 55 to 64 (34%).

Less than one in seven households with a respondent aged 65 and older (15%) reported having a cellphone and no landline in 2019.

Over half of seniors now have a smartphone

While landlines are withering on the vine, the smartphone is ubiquitous among Canadian youth and is rising the fastest among seniors.

In 2018, four in five Canadians (80%) owned a smartphone. By 2020, this share had risen to 84%, with much of that growth occurring among seniors.

The overwhelming majority of Canadians aged 15 to 44 (96%) reported having a smartphone in 2020, as did most Canadians aged 45 to 64 (87%).

The share of seniors who reported owning a smartphone rose from 43% in 2018 to 54% in 2020.

The costs of calling, texting and data are falling

Canadians were paying on average 5.2% less for cellular services in 2022 compared with a year earlier. By way of comparison, the all-items Consumer Price Index rose 6.8% over the same period.

Telecommunication sales bounce back

Following widespread decreases during the first year of the pandemic, total operating revenue in the telecommunications industry rose 2.7% from a year earlier to a record high $65.6 billion in 2021. Operating expenses were up 3.6% to $51.0 billion while salaries and other staff benefits rose 2.8% to $8.4 billion.

Those working in the telecommunications industry make more on average than other service industry employees

Employees in the wired and wireless telecommunications industry earned on average $1,437 per week in 2021, or $74,735 annually. This was higher than the service industry average weekly earnings of $1,081 per week in 2021, or $56,208 on an annual basis.

Phone book full of “phone” data at your fingertips

Running out of phone data? “Let your fingers do the walking” through our “Telecommunications: Connecting Canadians” dashboard for all your data needs.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (