TORONTO - A new report says phone carriers will need to boost their network investments as it forecasts data consumption in Canada could double by 2027.

The report by PwC, presented Tuesday at the Canadian Telecom Summit, says Canadian providers will need to increase their capital expenditures for 5G and fibre networks by two per cent per year to meet the growing demand for mobile data use.

It comes after BCE Inc. announced Monday it would cut network investment plans by more than $1 billion in response to a regulatory decision allowing independent internet providers to access large telephone companies' fibre networks in Ontario and Quebec.

The ruling is meant to stimulate competition for internet services in the two provinces, where the CRTC says independent internet providers now serve 47 per cent fewer customers than they did two years ago.

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says he is reviewing the CRTC's decision and that the federal government's “top priority is to offer the best prices for Canadian consumers through a competitive telecommunications market.”

Robert Ghiz, president and CEO of the Canadian Telecommunications Association, says the industry needs Ottawa to foster a regulatory environment that encourages investment and competition between the companies that build networks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2023.