Telecommunications innovation

Supercharged with 5G

Over the next few years, 5G is positioned to become the standard for mobile communications technology, ushering in a new era of connectivity, speed and possibility.

With its high capacity, ultra-reliability, low latency, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity, 5G has the potential to transform businesses in all sectors. But operators grapple with issues such as heightened compliance and regulatory requirements, market price erosion, and costly infrastructure investments. For Canadian telecommunications companies, embracing this technology requires aligning your digital blueprint with your overall strategy, operations, talent and the market while finding greater competitiveness through cross-sector collaboration.

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How we can help

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Building a 5G strategy

5G is ushering in a new reality. When combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT), its transformative power is staggering. Laggards in embracing this technology will be left behind. 

healthy Canadian telecommunications industry is key to the country’s high-tech success. 5G network infrastructure will be the backbone of Industry 4.0, as 5G delivers a step change in connectivity through faster speeds, ultra-reliable communications, and the ability to connect one million devices per square kilometre. This will allow end-to-end digitization of physical assets and integration into a digital ecosystem marked by hyper-intelligent, autonomous devices.

5G infrastructure is expected to cost Canadian telecom operators from 23% to 71% more than 4G, with the benefits mostly realized by the broader economy. Today, telecommunications companies are mapping out new business models to plug into the benefits of 5G—the future of the telecommunications industry. They can create new revenue streams, namely by serving 5G-reliant service providers in addition to end users. 

Our team of experts can help you build a 5G strategy, uncover profitable combinations of 5G customers, channels and pricing, and deploy the right operating model and infrastructure plans to make the switch to 5G.

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Navigating 5G challenges in Canada

Countries that roll out 5G services at speed and scale will have a significant competitive advantage. Yet the Canadian telecommunications industry faces several local challenges including:

  • higher spend on capital expenditures than their global counterparts
  • revenue pressures stemming from the introduction of unlimited data plans
  • potential regulations that would mandate wholesale access to mobile virtual network operators
  • public health concerns over increased exposure to higher frequency radio waves could lead to additional regulations, delaying 5G adoption

For Canada to maintain its competitiveness, all stakeholders—telecom operators, regulators, government, software/hardware manufacturers and consumer organizations—will need to cooperate to enact a market environment that enables 5G network investments.

PwC Canada’s professionals can help you interpret and respond to regulatory uncertainties, and find the right strategies and timing to create, accelerate and protect 5G investments.

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Embracing 5G use cases

Powered by 5G, businesses will be able to see, do and achieve more. The lightning speed, high capacity, ultra-reliability, low latency, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity provided by 5G networks will enable organizations to leverage the full power of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). 

This wide range of use cases opens up a myriad of opportunities for increasing competitiveness by building cross-sector collaboration between the telecommunication sector and other industries. 

PwC Canada’s professionals can help you uncover opportunities you didn’t know existed. Our team of subject matter experts can help you anticipate the impact of 5G and adapt your service delivery to suit a wide range of use cases.

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Mitigating 5G risks

Alongside these opportunities, 5G’s combination of new capabilities and virtualization also brings new threats. Organizations will need to revisit and strengthen their cybersecurity approach.

5G has significantly more network end-points that can be exposed to cyber criminals, and 5G virtualization means the whole connection is based on software—which is inherently hackable. Cybersecurity threats are evolving in real time; organizations will need to consider access points, data, and potential threats to determine a more holistic cyber approach.

Findings from our 2022 Canadian Digital Trust Insights showed that organizations with the broadest transformations of cybersecurity security had twice as much success than their peers: higher prevention of attacks, faster response to disruptions, greater compliance with regulations and improved customer experience. 

When it comes to 5G and cybersecurity, we recommend five actions to get to the next level:

  • Reset your cyber strategy and leadership
  • Rethink your cyber budgeting to get more out of spend
  • Invest in every advantage to level the playing field with attackers
  • Build resilience for any scenario
  • Future-proof your security team

Comparing the value of Canadian wireless networks in the G20

For many years, Canadians have enjoyed high-speed, widely available 4G LTE networks that are often ranked as the fastest in the world.  It’s an achievement worth celebrating, but one that should be recognized in the context of what it takes to build and maintain wireless networks in Canada—especially as 5G networks are rolled out across the country.

In our most recent analysis, PwC Canada constructed a cost and quality index comparing Canada to its G20 peers. We found that while Canadians continue to enjoy the fastest wireless network speeds globally, it comes at a cost. The Canadian telecommunications industry ranked the highest on the network cost index, driven by high capital investment costs, the relatively small scale of Canadian telecommunications companies as well as expensive spectrum auctions.

To learn more about PwC Canada’s cost and quality index across the G20, click here.


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Understanding the increasing value of wireless services for Canadians

Smartphones and mobile wireless services have become an integral part of the lives of Canadians. Continuing investment and innovation has resulted in widespread availability of fast 4G networks and the launch of advanced 5G capabilities, new smartphone features such as high-quality cameras and video streaming, and the advent of millions of applications that provide value for consumers across all aspects of their lives. 

As a result of this innovation, Canadians receive more value from their wireless devices than ever before. A recent survey found that the average consumer surplus of Canadians is $948 per month, or over $11,000 per year. Further analysis found that this surplus is approximately 158x greater than that of the Canadian telecommunications industry. This trend can be expected to increase with the launch of 5G networks, which will enable new technology innovation that will create broad value for consumers.

To learn more about PwC’s recent assessment of the value Canadians receive from their wireless services click here.

Collaboration is key to Canada’s 5G and Industry 4.0 success

Why we need cooperative models to deliver 5G networks for Canada’s post-COVID-19 connectivity needs

As we all know, COVID-19 has forced us to quickly change our ways of working and living, and this has been made possible by internet connectivity. Going forward, both connectivity and Industry 4.0 will be critical to Canada’s long-term economic success. While Industry 4.0 will drive productivity, efficiency and flexibility across the economy, it will rely on advanced connectivity networks such as 5G.

Right now, there’s a window of opportunity for Canada to more firmly take the role of an investment catalyst for 5G. But this will require cooperation across government, the telecommunications sector and broader industry.

Interested in learning more about how we can collaborate to deliver 5G networks? Check out our report here.


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Contact us

John Simcoe

John Simcoe

National Media & Telecom Lead, Assurance Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 815 5231