Lawrence Surtees manages IDC Canada's communications research agenda and is IDC's lead analyst covering the Canadian communications services sector, including the wireline, wireless and Internet segments, next generation network technologies and
policy and regulatory issues (including the CRTC). Lawrence also works on related IDC consulting projects. Widely regarded as one of Canada's foremost telecommunications experts (he was also the global authority on Nortel Networks), he has covered the communications sector for more than four decades.
Prior to joining IDC Canada in Sept. 2000, Lawrence spent 17 years as a reporter at The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto where the bulk of his tenure was spent on the Report on Business where he covered telecommunications and related high-technology companies. (He was also The Globe's medical reporter from 1988 to 1990.) He has written more than 3,000 articles published in newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States and has won numerous awards for his writing, including a National Newspaper Award in 1993. Lawrence began his journalism career in Ottawa in 1981 as editor of a weekly newsletter on communications policy and regulatory issues. Lawrence also served as an advisor on New Media technologies to the telecommunications committee of the Canadian Daily Newspaper Association's Board of Directors from 1994 to 1996. A biographee in the Canadian Who's Who, Lawrence is also the author of two bestselling books on the Canadian telecommunications sector: Pa Bell, his history of BCE, was published in 1992; and Wire Wars, the inside story of the long-distance competition battle, was published in 1994.
He is in frequent demand as an industry speaker, media commentator and university lecturer and holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Western Ontario.
Areas of Expertise (10)
Canadian Communications Policy and Regulatory Issues
Canadian Communications Service Providers
Telecom Industry Structure and Trends
Optical Network Technology
Canadian Telecom History
Telecom and National Security
Associated IDC Services (3)
- Canadian Communications Market Drivers and Strategies
- IDC Canada Communication Service Providers Practice
- IDC Canada Telecom Market Model
University of Western Ontario: MA, Journalism 1981
University of Toronto at Scarborough: BA (Honours), Political Science; History; Biology 1980
Media Appearances (50)
Future forward with the next generation of 5G-powered network-as-a-service offerings
Publicity around 5G focusses on faster networks for consumers. Lesser known is its projected pivotal role in advanced manufacturing. “Now you have things deployed for both wired and wireless networks running on the same architecture and ultimately, the same software,” says Lawrence Surtees, vice-president of communications research at Toronto-based technology research firm IDC Canada. The result will be, according to Surtees, “the most profound development to occur in telecom in our lifetime.”
Telus bemoans cost of 5G spectrum
Mobile World Live online
IDC research VP for communications Lawrence Surtees, who specialises in the Canadian market, highlighted Telus’ expansion plans are for non-standalone (NSA) 5G, predicting operators won’t deploy standalone (SA) until mmWave spectrum is available and warning it could take three years for a separate revenue stream from the technology to emerge.
IDC Canada Releases 3 Key Research Reports Assessing the Canadian Communications Market and Latest Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
IDC Canada online
International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada announced today the release of three new research reports to help vendors understand the impact of COVID-19 on the strategic C$54 billion Canadian communications services sector, including a comprehensive Canadian market forecast, a competitive analysis of key providers and in-depth analysis of capital expenditures.
Canada to rule on whether big telcos must extend wireless access for minnows
Canada's telecommunications regulator will rule on Thursday on whether reluctant big wireless providers must do more to increase competition in a market that has some of the world's highest billing rates. Lawrence Surtees, lead communications analyst for IDC Canada, said MVNOs may not be a "magic bullet" for Canada's expensive telecoms market. Starting a new telecoms company in Canada is tough, given the dominant grip of the Big Three, Surtees said, adding the MVNOs would not necessarily change this.
Rogers' 'sweeteners' for $20-billion Shaw takeover may test regulatory, political patience
Rogers Communications Inc.’s efforts to secure its $20 billion (US$16 billion) acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. could be insufficient to overcome regulatory hurdles and political opposition amid concerns Canadians face some of the world’s highest phone bills. The deal suggests that both Shaw and Rogers had already “beaten the doors down in Ottawa ahead of time and tried to suss things out,” said Lawrence Surtees, lead communications analyst for IDC Canada. But “the jury is still out” on whether regulators will approve it despite “all the little sweeteners in the deal,” he said, also pointing to Rogers’ promise to create a $1-billion broadband fund.
COVID-19 crisis takes a double-digit bite out of Rogers earnings
While the overall telecom business remains solid, Rogers is getting hammered by fluctuations caused by the pandemic Another competitive dynamic to watch, according to IDC telecom industry analyst Lawrence Surtees, is Rogers’ potentially losing market share to its competitors.
IDC Canada Releases New Groundbreaking Study on How Critical Networks Provide Critical Care During the COVID-19 Crisis
IDC Canada online
International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada today released a groundbreaking report on communications and healthcare titled, Critical Networks Provide Critical Care: Role of Communication Networks to Treat and Prevent COVID-19 (IDC# CA45063420). "The urgent imperative to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus has had an unanticipated immediate consequence on the delivery of healthcare in most countries that will have both permanent and beneficial impacts," says study author Lawrence Surtees, vice president of Communications Research and principal analyst at IDC Canada.
Canadian telcos tap Ericsson, Nokia for 5G gear, ditching Huawei
Two of Canada’s largest telecoms firms on Tuesday teamed with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Oyj to build fifth-generation (5G) telecoms networks, ditching China’s Huawei Technologies for the project. The announcements put “a real monkey wrench into the spanner” for Huawei’s business ambitions in Canada, said Lawrence Surtees, lead research analyst on communications at IDC Canada.
Bell, Telus award 5G contracts to European firms, Huawei shut out
Huawei Technologies Inc.'s ambitions to be a player in Canada's 5G network are very much in doubt after two of the country's three largest telecom companies announced partnerships with the Chinese tech giant's European rivals. [IDC Canada vice-president, Lawrence Surtees] said that Canada and the United Kingdom both have national security structures that analyzed Huawei equipment thoroughly without finding it to be a security threat....
Huawei's ambitions for Canada stalled by rift with China, security expert says
The Canadian Press
Huawei Technologies Co.'s push to become a leading supplier of 5G technology in Canada appears to be in jeopardy after the Chinese tech giant's CFO suffered a legal setback in a B.C. court, prompting an angry response from Beijing. IDC Canada vice-president Lawrence Surtees agreed that the Meng case may have given the Trudeau government a way to defer its decisions on Huawei but noted that the main government agency involved with the decision, the Canadian Security Establishment, hasn't found a reason to block the company.
Internet use may be surging, but telecoms are not immune to pandemic pressure
Canada’s telecom giants have emerged as one of the foundations of the stay-at-home economy, but that doesn’t mean their normally rock-solid business models aren’t under pressure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.. Lawrence Surtees, an industry analyst at research firm IDC Canada, said that the core telecommunications market — home phone, wireless, and internet — is roughly a $46 billion business in Canada, with cable and satellite TV adding another $9 billion on top of that. Nearly half of that core telecom market comes from businesses, Surtees said.
My internet seems slow: How is the coronavirus affecting internet providers?
Lawrence Surtees, an industry analyst focused on telecom and communication for IDC Canada, said that the reason Canada hasn’t needed to do that kind of downgrading is because network operators have installed a lot of fibre optic cable, which has significantly increased bandwidth. "If we didn’t have fibre networks that we’ve been (building) in the last five years, I think we would be faced with collapsing networks"
IDC Expects Canada’s Telecom Market to Face a Significant Revenue Slowdown in 2020 and Beyond
IDC Canada online
The global COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary containment measures put in place by governments will substantially impact the Canadian telecommunications services market producing negative growth in 2020 before rebounding in 2021. Compared to Canada's IT market, the C$48-billion-dollar telecom services sector has been historically more resilient or “recession-proof,” said Lawrence Surtees, Research Vice-President of Communications at IDC Canada. Even during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, telecom services retained positive annual growth. A decade later, telecom services have become further insulated to crisis as consumers and enterprises are more dependent on these services, especially internet and wireless.
Internet networks feel the strain as COVID-19 sparks surge in Canadians working from home
nternet traffic in Canada typically peaks on Sunday nights and weekday evenings, but over the past week or so, usage rates have started to look like Sunday night a good chunk of the time. Lawrence Surtees, an industry analyst focused on telecom and communication for IDC Canada, said that the reason Canada hasn’t needed to do that kind of downgrading is because network operators have installed a lot of fibre optic cable, which has significantly increased bandwidth.
Cheap wireless plans should be a right. Here’s why
“In wireless data, it isn’t so much the monthly price that was the issue, but in how much data you get” IDC Canada's Larry Stolte speaking to the Toronto Star in regards to the government desire to lower wireless rates by 25%.
Why it's way too early to declare a winner in Canada's 5G wars
A 5G network logo will appear on cell phone screens sometime in 2020 or 2021, but the real transformative improvements won’t materialize until much later. That likely won’t happen until around 2025 or so, according to Lawrence Surtees, an analyst who covers telco issues for IDC Research. In fact, Surtees said many of the details still haven’t been fully hammered out. “The international standards for 5G are many and varied, and all the pieces have not been fully worked out yet, and the deadline for that is later near the end of 2020,” Surtees said.
IDC talks 5G Canadian network plans and consumer use cases
Channel Daily News
Given that it’s still in the early stages of deployment, carrier plans for 5G networks are still uncertain. CDN spoke with Lawrence Surtees, IDC’s vice-president of communication research, to understand what barriers operators are currently facing. In Canada, Surtees foresees that it won’t be the big three — Bell, Rogers, and Telus — who will be the first ones to roll out unlimited 5G plans. Instead, he expects smaller carriers like Freedom (Shaw) to be the first ones to do it.
As Canada reviews Huawei's role in 5G networks, opportunities open for other telecom suppliers
As it stands, China’s Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Corp. are the top three vendors of radio gear in Canada and around the world, according to research firm IDC. While the Canadian government mulls whether to block Huawei in its 5G security review, telecom operators continue to invest in network equipment to prepare for the launch of 5G as early as 2020, IDC analyst Lawrence Surtees said. It would be a “really big pain” for Bell and Telus if the government bans Huawei from a deployment perspective, Surtees said.
Some businesses hanging up on the desk phone
Companies are increasingly using VoIP or programs like Skype instead of traditional phones. "It's almost like the last resort is a paperweight, tethered desk phone," says Lawrence Surtees, vice-president of communications research at IDC Canada, which does market research on information and communications technology. "The non-smartphone is a dying thing." Surtees say smaller businesses in Canada went wireless earlier than larger ones, which are now making the switchover due to cost, convenience, increasing trust in cloud computing, and an overall rise in cord-cutting in daily life.
China threatens Canada over Huawei CFO arrest
The Chinese government has warned Canada will face grave consequences if the Huawei CFO is not released. As Caryn Ceolin reports, Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the request of the United States.
Little-known among consumers, Huawei has high profile in Canadian tech networks
The Toronto Star
Lawrence Surtees, vice-president for communications research at IDC Canada, says Britain and Canada are the second and third most important Five Eyes partners after the United States and ahead of Australia and New Zealand. “My take is, both Ottawa and London are in a position to say ... we do lots with you in the intelligence sharing and we’re not going to jeopardize our networks. We know what to do.” Surtees says Huawei equipment has already been used in at least five Canadian wireless networks that use fourth-generation LTE technology, and it would be expensive to replace. Huawei is also working with Bell and Telus to develop equipment for 5G wireless networks that are expected to become increasingly vital to carriers and their customers over the next decade. “The magnitude of the contracts that Huawei has here would be a factor, with the Canadian carriers saying to Ottawa that it’s kind of too late now,” Surtees says.
Manitoba's newest wireless carrier launches next week
Winnipeg Free Press
Xplore Mobile, the company that regulators mandated to become the fourth wireless competitor in Manitoba after the Bell acquisition of MTS, will officially go live on Nov. 14. Lawrence Surtees, research vice-president with International Data Corporation (IDC) said, "There is an established tri-opoly of Bell Telus and Rogers. If a new player enters the market they have to do something different. They have to incent customers to come to them or leave the other guys. And this is one of the few ways to do it... and it's not going to bust the bank." He said, "Customers will say, 'Why should I come to you?' If they do the same thing the other three guys do no one is going to go to them."
Why new subscribers are proving the lifeblood of the wireless gameplan
[...] wireless will remain the driver of telecom growth over the next five years, according to industry analyst IDC Canada’s market study released in August. “The burgeoning popularity of wireless, coupled with a growing mobile workforce and increasing wireless substitution, strengthens the primacy of wireless as the preferred method of communications and the engine of telecom revenue growth in Canada,” study author Lawrence Surtees said in a statement. IDC’s predictions for wireless penetration, however, are less bullish than the telecoms. It predicted the number of wireless subscribers will grow to 34 million by 2022, an 89-per-cent penetration rate based on the estimated population.
'Amazing' Manitoba double-data offers spark questions over why only some provinces get the best phone deals
While many Manitobans are revelling in a double-data phone deal, Canadians elsewhere are left wondering why they can't get the same offer. Surtees said there are also strong regional competitors in other regions: Eastlink on the East Coast, and Freedom Mobile, which has been shaking up the market in B.C., Alberta and Ontario with deals such as Canadawide calling and 10 GB for $60 a month.
Head of Apple’s Canadian sales division Brent Johnston leaves company
Brent Johnston has left Apple’s Canadian division, according to sources familiar with the matter, after serving as senior managing director for more than two years. “He’s a veteran,” Lawrence Surtees, a telecom analyst with IDC Canada, told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview. “He definitely has more opportunities than most.”
IDC Canada predicts two million new wireless subscriptions by 2022
89 percent of Canadians will have some form of wireless device by 2022, says IDC Canada's Lawrence Surtees. IDC Canada predicts a fair amount of wireless subscribers will be up for grabs over the next five years — two million, to be exact. “Going forward, I think a big story continues to be wireless,” said Lawrence Surtees, vice-president of communications research and principal analyst at IDC Canada, in an interview with MobileSyrup.
Shaw completes first 5G test as wireless players ramp up to build next-gen networks
Follows the Big Three into race to build 5G networks, which are expected to power such technologies as automated vehicles and smart cities. Shaw Communications Inc. has completed its first technical trial of 5G technology as Canada’s wireless giants ramp up their investments in the next-generation networks.
IDC Canada Releases 7 New Forecasts for Canadian ICT Market: Many Markets Exceed Expectations in 2017, as the Canadian Economy and the Race Toward Digital Transformation Encourage ICT Spending
IDC Canada release 7 new forecast documents including Canadian Telecom Services Forecast, 2018-2022: Telecom Inside Out (IDC#CA42532118). Lawrence Surtees provides comments on this forecast.
5G corridor coming to Ontario and Quebec
5G, the “blisteringly fast” internet surface that businesses need for continued innovation, is coming to the bordering provinces of Ontario, and the mainly French-speaking province of Quebec. With the financial help of the two provincial governments and the federal government and some companies, a combined $400 million (Cdn) investment will phase in the 5G network over the next three of four years.
Super-fast, next-generation 5G wireless to get $200M research boost from governments
The federal, Ontario and Quebec governments say they will spend $200 million to help fund research into 5G wireless technology, the next-generation networks with download speeds 100 times faster than current ones can handle. The so-called "5G corridor," known as ENCQOR, will see tech companies such as Ericsson, Ciena Canada, Thales Canada, IBM and CGI kick in another $200 million to develop facilities to get the project up and running.
What is a 5G network and how can it change your life?
CBC News, The National tv
5G cellular networks — the next step up from 4G — are being developed for testing in some cities but won't be fully functional until 2020. It's touted as being 100 times faster than 4G, but while 5G's benefits have the potential to change the way cities work, implementing it could prove to be quite costly
Big telcos set to hit many Canadians with internet price hikes
Canadians' thirst for fast, reliable internet service has surged in recent years, and so has the amount we're paying to stay connected. For many customers, the cost of home internet is about to get even more pricey as the big telecom companies hike rates once again. Telecommunications consultant Lawrence Surtees says telcos do have added costs when they expand their networks. However, he's not certain that explains why internet prices have continued to creep up over the past couple of years.
Cogeco Peer 1's new Software-Defined WAN solution helps businesses unlock the power of the cloud
Cogeco Peer 1, a global provider of essential business-to-business products and services, today announced a new software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) service, partnering with Nuage Networks from Nokia, to help businesses ensure that their connectivity is a true enabler in their digital transformation.
Huawei's latest attempt to enter U.S. worries lawmakers — but Canada doesn't share its concern
For the past decade, Chinese tech company Huawei has found no shortage of success in Canada. Its equipment is used in telecommunications infrastructure run by the country's major carriers, and some have sold Huawei's phones. The company has struck up partnerships with Canadian universities, and say it is investing more than half a billion dollars in researching next generation cellular networks here.
Freedom Mobile confirms it will carry iPhones
Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile has confirmed to MobileSyrup that it will carry iPhones in the future.
IDC Canada analyst predicts 5G-driven wireless growth and the rise of unlimited data
5G will drive increased growth in an already growing wireless market, according to Lawrence Surtees, vice-president of communications research and principal analyst at IDC Canada. In his Canadian Wireless Services Forecast for the years 2017 to 2021, co-authored with Nikhil Anand, Surtees reports five percent revenue growth in the Canadian wireless market over this past year — which is only slightly decreased from 5.5 percent growth the year before. Subscriber growth, meanwhile, is a little below that, at almost 4 percent for consumers and 3 percent for business — an area where Surtees sees abundant room for growth. “My thesis is that having much greater wireless broadband capacity and speed [with 5G] will fuel bandwidth intensive business applications,” Surtees told MobileSyrup.
Businesses are hanging up on the desk phone
The days of cradling a desk phone between your head and shoulder on a long conference call are over for KPMG LLP’s Canadian employees. The accounting and advisory firm has deactivated desk phones for all of its approximately 5,000 employees, who now have to make voice calls with an app on their laptops connected to headsets or puck-sized speakers.
Rogers and Telus step up wireless promotions to counter serious threat from Freedom Mobile
Canada’s major wireless players appear to be treating Shaw Communications Inc.’s mobile business as a more serious threat after its latest play to expand its network, a move some researchers see as a welcome, but preliminary sign, of increased competition in the national arena.
10 reasons why cloud collaboration tools have become a competitive necessity
IT World Canada
Over 60 per cent of Canadian enterprises are now using some form of unified communications to drive a culture of collaboration, according to an IDC study. Unified communications (UC) provides new ways for organizations to engage with customers, partners and employees, anywhere and at anytime. It’s a rapidly evolving market, with an increasing number of users adopting UC services in the cloud, Lawrence Surtees, research vice president with IDC Canada told participants at a recent ITWC webinar.
Canadians' thirst for wireless data is growing — and so is the cry for unlimited plans
Canadians don't talk as much as they used to on their mobile phones, but the country's telecom market is still booming thanks to an unquenchable thirst for wireless data. That leads some customers to question why unlimited wireless data plans are almost non-existent in Canada. Meanwhile, every major U.S. carrier offers one.
Millennials driving next-gen telecom: IDC report
If you believe recent headlines, people born between 1980 and 2000 are ‘just saying no’ to drugs on a massive scale, will ‘never’ be able to afford their own homes and are even to blame for weak sales figures at Pottery Barn. You may want to take some or all of that with a grain of salt. But millennials really are causing massive shifts in the enterprise telecom space, according to IDC’s new five-year forecast for the Canadian telecom services market.
IDC Canada analyst forecasts half a million new wireless subscriptions in 2017
The Canadian wireless market will see incremental growth in 2017 in both subscribers and value due mainly to increased demand for mobile data, according to Lawrence Surtees, IDC Canada’s vice-president of communications research.
How 5G mobile data will enable the next generation of VR, autonomous cars and more
Low latency will also enable and improve Internet of Things applications. Video doorbells and home security cameras, for example, won’t have the same lag when connecting to users’ smartphones as they do today. When combined with better speeds and more throughput, lower latency is also expected to enable ubiquitous augmented reality, virtual reality and video. How a new wave of startups are bringing law enforcement into the digital age “You’ll be able to stream full-motion high-quality video while on a train that’s going 250 kilometres an hour,” says Lawrence Surtees, research vice-president for communications at analysis firm IDC. “You can’t do that now.”
Start the bidding at $4.1B, Premier Brad Wall indirectly puts pricetag on SaskTel
Premier Brad Wall suggested on Tuesday that any offer for SaskTel would need to cover certain criteria, including being able to eliminate the province's operating debt, which is currently $4.1 billion. Wall reiterated earlier statements that the province does not have an offer on the table for the Crown corporation... Lawrence Surtees is a telecom expert who has been studying the industry in Canada for more than 35 years. He said the premier is being pragmatic about any potential sale and has set a high bar for any potential suitor. "I think if someone were to come and offer and it was significantly below what the debt amount is the province wouldn't even look at it I think that's basically between the lines of what he's saying," Surtees said.
Yahoo’s latest acquisition is all about digital content, according to analysts
IT World Canada
Regardless of the acquisition’s outcome, it’s unlikely to affect Canada anytime soon, IDC Canada Ltd. telecom analyst Lawrence Surtees says. Instead, it’s a rare example of an American telecom giant catching up to its northern counterpart. “When I looked at the deal that Verizon did a year ago with AOL, and the executive rationale, I kind of smiled to myself and said, ‘it’s almost like Verizon is taking a page out of BCE’s playbook in Canada,'” Surtees says. “We’ve been doing this for two decades… and they’re just starting to go down this route now.”
Too early to fear for the future of SaskTel: analyst
Telecommunications consultant Lawrence Surtees says the only possible risks to SaskTel are hypothetical at this point, after an independent review found SaskTel at risk of reduced profits following the proposed sale of Manitoba Telecom Services to Bell.
Bidding war for SaskTel could draw in Bell, Telus: analyst
A billion-dollar bidding war could erupt if SaskTel is put up on the auction block, a telecommunications analyst says. Bell Canada and Telus would both be interested, according to Lawrence Surtees, a telecommunications consultant with IDC Canada.
BCE deal for Manitoba Tel carries tax benefit
BCE's purchase of Manitoba Telecom Services could give the firm a boost on the tax side, as MTS has tax loss carryforwards that could ease the bill at the end of the year. For perspective, BNN is joined by Lawrence Surtees, Vice-president & Principal Analyst, IDC Canada.
SDN: Your network is about to get a lot smarter
Double-digit growth for a particular product category is one thing, but growth of more than 50 per cent, per year, usually demands a double take — and software-defined networking is set for a 53.9 per cent compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2020, according to IDC.
BCE meets Street, raises payout
BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) is raising its dividend five percent after fourth-quarter adjusted earnings met expectations and amid what the company’s CFO calls a “very strong” financial foundation.