Small businesses envision a future that leverages 5G technology to help their businesses innovate and thrive
CFIB, in collaboration with TELUS, surveyed 4,408 small business owners to uncover their views on mobile connectivity and the introduction of 5G to the Canadian marketplace. 5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet technology that will make the internet 10-100x faster than the current 4G network. 5G will eliminate “spotty service” and network congestion, as well as expand and improve connectivity in rural areas.
Over the last year, CFIB’s research has shown small businesses are accelerating their digital strategies, in large part, due to ongoing pressure related to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer behaviours. New findings in this report reveal the importance mobile connectivity has for small businesses now and in the future, as well as how they would leverage new 5G technology that will soon be rolling out across the country.
Nearly all small businesses (94%) currently use WiFi around their office settings, and 85 per cent use mobile data outside a workplace setting for their business operations. The majority (79%) also say access to mobile internet connectivity through devices like tablets and smartphones is important for their business to succeed. Looking into the future, even more businesses (88%) will be relying on mobile connectivity for their business’s success over the coming three years, particularly those that are planning to hire more employees (93%).
Given the importance of connectivity for businesses now and in the future, small businesses are looking at how they will be able to leverage 5G for their own business success. Two-in-three (63%) small business owners say 5G will benefit their business, particularly those in the finance, real estate insurance and leasing (72%) and construction (71%) sectors, and businesses planning to hire more employees (71%). Nearly three-in-four (72%) believe 5G will springboard the use of technology in Canada’s small businesses.
The benefits and uses small businesses are looking for from 5G will be faster internet to enhance productivity and efficiency (76%), benefitting from rural customers being more
connected (62%), and new opportunities to grow and innovate (53%). We detail some of the specific and inspiring plans for 5G use in this report, including the use of cloud services, Artificial Intelligence, increasing efficiency and productivity through faster download speeds, making use of wearable technology, and developing software applications, among others. In fact, offering faster (47%) and more reliable (46%) internet are the third and fourth most identified ways to help small businesses innovate, respectively, falling behind only reducing taxes (70%) and cutting red tape (52%). Rural businesses are more likely to say faster (54%) and more reliable (57%) internet will help them innovate, with improved reliability of internet coming in ahead of cutting red tape.
Small businesses do have concerns about 5G – namely when it will become available, costs and overall security of using 5G networks. The federal government creates policies that impact the rollout of 5G, including through spectrum auctions. CFIB recommends the federal government implement policies that ensure a competitive telecom industry that can provide reliable, cost-effective digital connectivity to small business owners in all parts of Canada within the next 5 years. We also recommend telecom operators rollout 5G as quickly as possible once spectrum is purchased to ensure small business competitiveness and assist in disseminating information regarding the possible applications available through 5G, as well as what they will do to ensure security over 5G networks.
|May 2021||The small business vision of 5G connectivity in Canada||PDF (693 KB)|