Quarterly Survey of Telecommunications (QST)

Detailed information for first quarter 2017





Record number:


This survey collects quarterly financial and operating data for the statistical measurement and analysis of the telecommunications sub-sector. These data will be aggregated to produce national estimates of activity by industry.

Data release - Data releases are suspended until further notice.


The information collected by the Quarterly Survey of Telecommunications serves two broad objectives. The first is to measure the financial performance and economic contribution of the telecommunications services sub-sector. To meet this objective the survey collects information on revenues by type of service. The second broad objective is to measure the deployment and use of the telecommunications infrastructure. To meet this objective the survey collects data on the number of fixed and wireless accesses by type, and on telecommunications traffic.

The estimates from this survey are used by:

- Statistics Canada for the production of the country's monthly and quarterly national accounts;
- the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to gauge the state of competition in telecommunication markets, identify trends, support its decisions and establish regulatory policies.

The Quarterly Survey of Telecommunications was launched in 1999 in order to complement the annual survey by providing more timely statistics for a few key indicators. The survey was redesigned for 2007 to reflect the revised industry definition in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), to align its concepts on the redesigned annual survey conducted in partnership with the CRTC and to reduce response burden.

Starting in 2012, the Quarterly Survey of Telecommunications is conducted in partnership with the CRTC, as is the case for the Annual Survey of Telecommunications (record number 2722). This partnership aims at reducing response burden and at improving data quality, with better coherence of data collected by government (Statistics Canada and CRTC) on the Telecommunications sub-sector.

Most of the content of the quarterly survey can be found in quarterly surveys conducted in previous years, while the rest of the content is found in the Annual Survey of Telecommunications, which is addressed to the same respondents.

Collection period: About one month in duration, beginning around the 3rd day of the month following the reference quarter.


  • Business, consumer and property services
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Financial statements and performance
  • Information and communications technology
  • Telecommunication industries

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population of the survey consists of the largest Telecommunications service providers classified in sub-sector 517 - Telecommunication of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS 2012). The sub-sector comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing telecommunications and/or video entertainment services over their own or leased networks, on a resale basis or over client-supplied high speed Internet connections.

Instrument design

The quarterly survey consists of questions from the annual survey of telecommunications conducted in partnership with the CRTC.

The questions have been tested through an annual collection of information by the CRTC. A sample of potential respondents were asked to evaluate whether the data requested is readily available in their information systems on a quarterly basis, could be estimated without undue response burden, or could not be provided. The final questionnaire was designed taking the results of this test into consideration.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The list of establishments (the frame) targeted by the survey is elaborated and maintained by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2017-01-03 to 2017-02-03

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey is conducted electronically with the largest Telecommunications service providers using a secure web-based data collection system (DCS) managed by the CRTC. The service providers are notified by e-mail at the start of the data collection process and are provided with the due dates for completion of the survey forms as well as the information necessary to access DCS.

The respondent has 30 days to complete and submit the questionnaire online to the CRTC. Non-reporters are sent a reminder notice by e-mail 30 days after the end of the quarter. A telephone contact is made with non-reporters to discuss reporting delinquency and possible special arrangements.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

In order to identify, minimize and correct errors, the following quality control measures are applied to the data:

1) A manual audit is performed to ensure that the questionnaire coverage is as anticipated and that a complete response has been provided.
2) During the capture process, the data are subjected to computerized edits. These edits are designed to ensure the accuracy and coherence of the reported data.
3) Where possible, the reported data are compared to publicly available financial information and major discrepancies are investigated.
4) A quarter-over-quarter comparison is made to identify any extreme or unexplained changes in output or input structures.

Unusual occurrences are queried for confirmation and clarified with the respondents concerned.

Quality evaluation

As the last step of the data quality control process, the analyst responsible for the survey undertakes a critical assessment of the main facts portrayed by the aggregated data. The assessment includes a review of historical trends, a coherence check based on analytical ratios and comparison with other data sources (ex : Financial statements, Annual Survey of Telecommunications).

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data for a specific industry or variable may be suppressed (along with that of a second industry or variable) if the number of enterprises in the population is too low.

Data accuracy

Response rate - 100%

Response error may be due to many factors, including faulty design of the questionnaire, respondents' misinterpretation of questions, or respondents' faulty reporting. Frequent changes in company personnel may also lead to response error. Responses are compared from year to year and any significant deviations are queried by analysts to ensure their accuracy. However, even with these checks, the quality of data depends on the respondent's willingness to consult their records.

Non-response errors occur because not all respondents cooperate fully. This is not a major concern with this survey. All major service providers generally participate fully in the survey. There are circumstances where individual respondents are unable to participate fully. To alleviate the impact on the survey, respondents are usually asked to provide key variables and the others are estimated. Publicly available information is also used when available.

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