Bell is the second of the Big 3 to report its fourth-quarter earnings, and the numbers are looking good from the carrier’s perspective. BCE, Bell Canada’s parent company, has reported an operating revenue of $5.6 billion, up 1.4% compared to last year, and $496 million in profit for the holiday quarter of 2015.
BCE’s wireless segment has continued to perform well, according to the earnings report, as service revenue grew 6.3% to $1.58 billion, reflecting a favourable postpaid subscriber mi8xc and a 23% jump in data revenue. The latter was driven by a higher proportion of postpaid customers using smartphones and a greater usage of the LTE network.
The percentage of postpaid customers using a smartphone is up to 78% compared to 76% at the end of 2014, the carrier notes, adding that the proportion of postpaid subscribers on the LTE network reached 68% at the end 2015, up from 47% a year earlier.
Bell added 91,308 new postpaid subscribers, down from 118,120 a year ago, which the carrier attributes to the seasonally high level of promotional activity. As of the end of December, Bell has 7,375,416 postpaid wireless customers, up 3.7% compared to 2014, pushing the total customer base up 1.6% to 8,245,831.
Blended ARPU (average revenue per user) was up 4.4% to $63.67, due to increased data usage, while on the full year ARPU is up 5.3% to $63.09.
Bell also notes that by the end of 2015, its 4G LTE coverage had reached 96% of Canada’s population, with data speeds ranging from 75 Mbps to 150 Mbps. Its LTE-A wireless network now reaches 48% of the population, providing data speeds of up to 260 Mbps, and Bell has plans to reach 75% coverage by the end of 2016.