Just who is the mobile-only Canadian?

Media Technology Monitor's latest survey profiles the quarter of Canadian households that have gone landline-free.

More than a quarter of Canadians have taken landline phones out of their homes, according to a new study from Media Technology Monitor. The survey provides insight into this mobile-only group’s media habits and offers a demographic sketch of those who prefer phones in their pockets as opposed to on their walls.

Based on a sample of more than 4,500 Canadians surveyed over the phone with online follow-ups, MTM says 27.5% of households report having done away with landline phones. This would mark an increase from the 23.7% that Statistics Canada reported in 2014.

(That percentage may not change too drastically in the near future. Of those who still have landlines, a significant majority say they have little intention of removing them. 76% of landline users said they are either “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to cancel the service in the next year.)

Overall, those who have gone mobile-only show far more use of online media than those with both landlines and mobile phones. Phone cord-cutters over index on online video, YouTube and Netflix watching, and outpace landline users on online audio use through services like Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music or even YouTube.


Cord cutters also self-report far more time spent online at more than 29 hours per week compared to 19.2 weekly hours for landline owners.


MTM’s research also provides a demographic snapshot of mobile-only users and how they compare to the population at large.

Statistically speaking, MTM’s study suggests Canadian phone cord cutters are:

Male: The gender divide skewed slightly male at 56% of cellphone-only individuals.

Generally more active on mobile (unsurprisingly): When asked to track how many activities they conduct on their smartphone (a list that included things like watching video, checking weather, accessing maps or gaming), 41% of cord-cutters said they perform 10 or more daily, versus only 19% of those with landlines. The average number of daily phone activities for cord-cutters was 7, versus landline user’s 5.

Younger: More than half of surveyed individuals who are cell-phone-only are under 36 years old, with those between 28 and 36 being the largest group represented at 32%.

In comparatively lower-income households: More than half of mobile-only households earn less that $75,000 per year, with far stronger representation towards lower income brackets as opposed to mixed mobile/landline homes, which are more evenly spread among income levels.

Visible minorities: Mobile-only users were 33% more likely to identify as a visible minority.

Discount provider subscribers: While the so called “big three” telcos (Bell, Telus and Rogers) were the most-used service providers among both groups, mobile-only folks showed more willingness to explore options further down the market. Koodo and Fido were twice as popular among cord cutters, and the big three made up less of this market overall.