Bell Announces First 5G Partnership with Finland’s Nokia

Bell announced this morning it will be partnering with Nokia as its first 5G network equipment supplier. The announcement came during the release of the company’s fourth quarter earnings.

Finland-based Nokia has over 60 commercial 5G contracts in place worldwide. Bell says it is “ready to deliver initial 5G service in urban centres across Canada as next-generation smartphones come to market in 2020,” adding it is ready for the federal government’s spectrum auction later this year for the 3.5 GHz band, to be used for 5G.

“Bell’s leading network performance, service innovations and focused execution by our team delivered very positive results in a highly competitive fourth quarter. Our wireless, wireline and media operating segments all contributed to our strong financial performance as we welcomed more than 181,000 net new wireless, Internet and IPTV subscribers to Bell in the quarter and approximately 743,000 for the year, a 5% increase over 2018,” said Mirko Bibic, Bell’s President and Chief Executive Officer, in a press release.

There were 123,582 net new wireless customers in Q4 for Bell, with 121,599 being postpaid and 1,983 prepaid. Bell said its wireless operating revenue “grew 3.6% in Q4 to $2,493 million, with service revenue up 1.6% to $1,619 million, reflecting continued postpaid subscriber growth and a stronger revenue contribution from prepaid.”

Bell saw $6.316 billion in operating revenue for the fourth quarter, up 1.6% year-over-year, with net earnings of $723 million, up 12.6% year-over-year.

With Bell announcing its ‘first’ 5G partnership with Nokia, and Rogers going with Sweden’s Ericsson for 5G, it’s only a matter of time before Telus announces its first 5G network partner. We’re guessing it may be at least one of these companies.

Bell and Telus use 4G hardware from China’s Huawei, and both telecoms have been waiting for the federal government to decide whether or not Huawei will be allowed for 5G in Canada, over fears of potential espionage.