Bell has closed a strong first quarter in 2017 with wireless revenue increasing 7.1% to $1.8 billion, the carrier said in a press release announcing the earnings. During the January to end of March period, service revenue was up 8% to $1.7 billion, driven by an expanding postpaid subscriber base, strong growth in ARPU and a favourable contribution from MTS.
Bell says it has completed the acquisition of MTS and launched Bell MTS in Manitoba shortly after that on March 17.
The carrier ended the quarter with a total number of wireless customers of 8,946,476, up 8.6% compared to a year prior. Bell’s postpaid customer base totalled 8,144,936, up 10% compared to the same period last year. This included 476,932 subscribers acquired from MTS (518,427 on postpaid service). Subsequent to the end of the quarter on April 1, about 25% of the acquired MTS postpaid subscribers were sold to Telus.
Wireless adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) is up 7.5% to $818 million, up from $761 million a year prior. During the quarter, Bell added 35,782 new postpaid customers, the carrier said.
One key metric, the ARPU (average revenue per user) also shows a strong quarter with a 4.2% growth year-over-year to $65.66, driven by a more favourable postpaid subscriber mix and increased LTE data usage. The%age of postpaid subscribers with LTE devices reached 83%, up from 73% in the same period a year prior.
Speaking of LTE coverage, Bell says its network covers almost 98% of Canadians as of the end of March 2017, including 74% having LTE-Advanced coverage.