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Smartphones are computers for some

Here's my cell number. Call me, maybe?

Or maybe not. Cellphone users are doing less calling as they buy more smartphones and use the device for texting, emailing, web surfing, mobile apps, social networking and watching videos.

And it's that surge in data use that Canada's telecom companies, big and small, are banking on as the revenue driver of the future.

"It's no longer just your teenage kids. It's everybody," telecom analyst Brahm Eiley said.

"They use their phone the way they would use their PC," Eiley added, noting how the use of the web is evolving from computers to mobile devices.

Dan Maitland has an iPhone and hardly uses it for calls.

"These are not just phones," said Maitland, 39, who makes software that helps train pilots to be safer at flight simulator company CAE Inc. in Montreal.

"They are small computers that have the ability to make a phone call."

Maitland said he uses his iPhone for such things as web searches, apps, accessing files for work and reading.

And Maitland is doing exactly what wireless providers expect and want him to do to help increase their data revenues in the years ahead.

The amount of voice minutes used by consumers on cellphones isn't increasing, said Eiley, co-founder of the Convergence Consulting Group in Toronto.

"Over the last two years, voice minutes have not seen any growth, whereas smartphone penetration has almost doubled."

Faster wireless networks are also helping drive the increasing use of data by consumers, Eiley added.

The Convergence Consulting Group expects that about 55 per cent of all cellphone users in Canada will have smartphones by the end of this year. That's expected to increase to 65 per cent by the end of 2013 and go up to 80 per cent by year-end 2016.

The Canadian Press


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