Annual Survey of Internet Service Providers and Related Services

Detailed information for 2006





Record number:


The survey objective is the collection and publication of data necessary for the statistical analysis of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry.

Data release - January 21, 2008


The survey objective is the collection and publication of data necessary for the statistical analysis of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry. This survey was developed to provide detailed information on the ISP industry in Canada, which is recognized as a very important and dynamic aspect of the Canadian economy. Because the Canadian ISP industry is constantly evolving, this survey will help to monitor its growth and expansion.

The information from the survey can be used by businesses and trade associations for market analysis and assessment of industry performance, operating characteristics and trends, by government to develop national and regional economic policies, by other users involved in research or policy making and by Statistics Canada for maintaining important data input to the preparation of the Canadian System of National Accounts.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Unified Enterprise Survey program (UES). The UES program has been designed to integrate, gradually over time, the approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The UES aims at collecting more industry and product detail at the provincial level than was previously possible while avoiding overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content. The unified approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts.

This survey is part of the Service Industries program. The survey data gathered are used to compile aggregate statistics for over thirty service industry groupings. Financial data, including revenue, expense and profit statistics are available for all of the surveys in the program. In addition, many compile and disseminate industry-specific information.

Reference period: Calendar year

Collection period: February to September


  • Business, consumer and property services
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Financial statements and performance
  • Information and communications technology
  • Information and culture
  • Professional, scientific and technical services

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of all statistical establishments (sometimes referred to as firms or units) classified as Internet Service Providers according to the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) during the reference year.

Instrument design

Statistics Canada has consulted with selected ISP firms and several industry experts and associations in Canada such as the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP). Their comments were used in designing the questionnaire so that results would benefit as many people as possible. Further industry research and consultations were done in 2000 to update the previous year's questionnaire to reflect changes in the types of products and services being offered by ISPs in Canada. The changes are field tested to ensure they are reasonable and sustainable.


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

In this survey, a census of all firms above the low revenue cut-off threshold was conducted, which means each firm represents itself and is given a weight of one.

The target population consists of all statistical establishments (sometimes referred to as firms or units) classified as Internet Service Providers according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) during the reference year. Data users who wish to learn more about NAICS, its underlying principles, and many of the other statistical concepts discussed in this brief summary, are referred to the Introduction section of the Statistics Canada publication "North American Industry Classification System:Canada 1997" (catalogue number 12-501).

Even though the basic objective of the survey is to produce estimates for the whole industry - all incorporated and unincorporated businesses - not all businesses are surveyed. Rather, a census of businesses with revenue above a certain threshold are surveyed. (Note: the threshold varies between surveys and sometimes between provinces in the same survey). The excluded portion represents a substantial proportion of the industry in terms of number of establishments, but its contribution to the overall industry revenue is only about 5%.

The frame is the list of establishments from which the portion eligible for sampling is determined and the sample is taken. The frame provides basic information about each firm, including: address, industry classification, and information from administrative data sources. The frame is maintained by Statistics Canada's Business Register, and is updated using administrative data.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2007-01-02 to 2007-08-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

Data are collected through a mail-out/mail-back process, while providing respondents with the option of electronic data reporting or collection over the telephone. The statistical establishment is used as the sampling unit, but selected establishments belonging to the same company and the same industry are aggregated to create a collection entity. This reduces respondent burden and simplifies collection. Therefore, companies with production in more than one establishment are mailed one questionnaire and instructed to report for all Canadian operations. Follow-up procedures are applied when a questionnaire has not been received after a pre-specified period of time.

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

Error detection

Data are examined for inconsistencies and errors using automated edits coupled with analytical review. Every effort is made to minimize the non-sampling error of omission, duplication, reporting and processing. Several checks are performed on the collected data. These checks look for internal consistency such as the total should equal the sum of the components; if there is a number of employees reported, there should be wages and salaries also reported; the main source of income has to be related to the NAICS code and does not come from the "Other" revenue category; identification of extreme values; etc.


Several checks are performed on the collected data to verify internal consistency and identify extreme values. Where information is missing, imputation is performed using either a "nearest neighbour" procedure (donor imputation), using historical data where available or finally, using administrative data as a proxy for reported data.


As part of the estimation process survey data are weighted and combined with administrative data to produce final industry estimates.

Quality evaluation

Prior to dissemination, combined survey results are analyzed for comparability; in general, this includes a detailed review of individual responses (especially for the largest companies), general economic conditions, historic trends, and comparisons with other data sources.

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 accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. These errors can be broken down into two major types: non-sampling and sampling.

Non-sampling error is not related to sampling and may occur for many reasons. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Population coverage, differences in the interpretation of questions, incorrect information from respondents, and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are other examples of non-sampling errors.

The response rate for this survey was 78% in reference year 2006, after accounting for firms that no longer belong in the industry, i.e., they have gone out of business, changed their primary business activity, they are inactive, or are duplicates on the frame.

Previous to reference year 2002, data for Internet Service Providers were released for the surveyed portion only, that is, all establishments with revenue above a low revenue threshold.

Full industry estimates including data for firms below a low revenue threshold are being released at the Canada level. The very small firms now included in industry estimates account for less than 5% of revenues, but because there are many of them, industry establishment counts are significantly higher than in previous years. Thus, data users should use caution when comparing 2002 data to prior years, especially for the establishment count statistics.

Due to non-response rates and confidentiality reasons, accurate estimates at the provincial level cannot be provided.

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