It’s earnings reports season, and the second carrier to publish its first-quarter earnings was Bell: The telco says service revenues are up 5.3% to $1.57 billion from $1.5 billion reported the same period a year ago, and operating revenue is up 3.4% to $1.69 billion, compared to $1.63 billion last year.
In the first three months of 2016, Bell added 25,805 new postpaid subscribers (compared to 35,373 in Q1 of last year), due to “reduced market activity, particularly in the first half of the quarter.” As a result, Bell now has a total wireless subscriber base of 8,235,963. Of those, postpaid customers totalled 7,401,221, up 3.6% compared to last year.
The percentage of postpaid customers with smartphones is up to 82% (increasing 5%), as of the end of Q1 2016. Also, 73% of smartphone owners are using LTE, up from 52% a year ago.
Bell reports that blended ARPU has increased 3.6% to $63.02, driven by two-year contracts, increased data usage, and a greater percentage of customers with a smartphone.
“With 93,000 new postpaid wireless, TV and Internet customers in Q1, Bell moves forward in 2016 as Canada’s broadband growth leader. The Bell strategy of investment in the most advanced networks and product innovations, combined with a focus on operational efficiency at every level, is clearly delivering the better broadband customer experience,” said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. “The Bell team’s strong operational execution, focus on growing broadband usage and effective cost management across our wireless, wireline and media segments has now delivered 42 consecutive quarters of uninterrupted year-over-year adjusted EBITDA growth.”
The press release also notes that the carrier continued the rollout of its Dual-band LTE-A wireless network, now provides service to 49% of the Canadian population, and has plans to increase coverage to 75% by the end of this year. The national 4G LTE network currently reaches 96% of Canadians, with theoretical data speeds ranging from 75 Mbps to 150 Mbps.