Bell Q3 Adds Record Wireless Net Additions, Beating Analyst Expectations

BCE Inc. announced its Q3 2019 earnings today and its wireless division saw record wireless net additions, with the company’s CEO noting it led the industry when it came to subscriber growth.

Bell saw wireless net additions of 204,067, up 14.8% versus the year-ago quarter. Wireless operating revenue increased 3.5% to $2.34 billion, while service revenue was up 2.5% to $1.67 billion.

The addition of 127,172 postpaid and 76,895 prepaid Bell wireless customers beat analyst expectations.

Prepaid net additions surged 80.9% to 76,895 from 42,511 compared to the year-ago quarter, thanks to “strong demand” with the company’s Lucky Mobile brand, helped by a distribution agreement with Dollarama.

Bell says its blended average billing per user (ABPU) saw an increase of 0.9% to $69.93, “despite the impact of unlimited data plans on data overage revenue.”

“Bell’s commitment to build the advanced fibre and mobile networks that will take Canadian communications into the future continues to deliver strong results for our shareholders, customers and communities today. With exceptional execution by the Bell team in Q3, we achieved industry-leading subscriber growth – including record Q3 net wireless customer additions – improved customer satisfaction and a strong financial performance,” said George Cope, President and Chief Executive Officer of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada, in a statement.

Analysts Question How Unlimited Data Plans Will Impact Telecom Profits

Bell appears to have fared better in Q3 versus rival Rogers, which announced its earnings for the same quarter last week.

Rogers said 1 million customers have already switched to unlimited data plans, at a pace three times of what the company expected, with data usage seeing an increase of 50% for Infinite plan customers.

The company saw wireless service revenue decrease due to the adoption of the company’s unlimited data plans. Rogers revised its revenue guidance for the year, citing lower growth than expected.

With profits being impacted by new unlimited data plans, analysts such as Maher Yaghi, from Desjardins Securities, said “Investors are nervous and questioning if the telecom space is fundamentally broken,” in a note last week (via The Globe and Mail).

Rogers saw its wireless data overage revenue in Q3 drop $50 million (the first full quarter with Infinite plans), and they are expected to decline nearly 1 per cent in the upcoming 12 months.

Telus is set to announce its Q3 earnings on November 8, 2019.