Bell Canada’s mobile gains offset wireline decline; Aliant’s fibre yet to offset fixed fall

5 Nov 2010

Bell Canada has reported operating revenues for the third quarter of 2010 of CAD3.86 billion (USD3.84 billion), up by 1.8% from CAD3.79 billion in the same period of 2009, whilst EBITDA increased by 3.1% year-on-year to CAD1.49 billion and operating income jumped 15.6% to CAD674 million. Wireless (Bell Mobility) operating revenues increased by 8.1% to CAD1.27 billion in the three months ended September 2010, driven by rising subscriber volume and mobile data revenue growth of 39%. Wireless product revenues decreased by 2.8% to CAD103 million due to competitive pricing on handsets. Bell’s wireless division operating income decreased by 5.9% to CAD333 million as a result of lower EBITDA and higher depreciation and amortization of intangible assets. Blended monthly cellular ARPU rose by CAD1.41 to CAD53.54 in 3Q10, helped by increased data ARPU. Total net mobile subscriber additions were 137,880 in the quarter, or 2.3% higher than 3Q09; post-paid net additions were 159,465 (31.0% higher than last year), a new third-quarter record reflecting an emphasis on post-paid acquisition at Bell Mobility and subsidiary Virgin Mobile. The pre-paid client base declined by 21,585 in the three-month period, compared to a gain of 13,045 in the year-ago quarter due to lower pre-paid gross activations. Bell Mobility’s total mobile subscriptions (including users of MVNO services) reached 7,125,266 at the end of September 2010, an increase of 6.2% in twelve months.

Bell Canada’s fixed line and broadband operating revenues decreased by 0.9% year-on-year to CAD2.64 billion in 3Q10 as video and data turnover growth were more than offset by decreases in local access and long-distance revenues. The wireline division’s operating income increased by 48.9% to CAD341 million as a result of higher EBITDA, lower restructuring and other costs and lower depreciation and amortization of intangible assets. High speed internet subscribers increased by 21,668 in the quarter, compared to an increase of 21,531 in the same period last year. At the end of September Bell Canada had 2,085,227 high-speed Internet subscribers.

Bell Aliant, Bell Canada’s sister telco, saw its revenues decrease by 3.1% year-on-year to CAD762 million in July-September 2010, due to lower local access and long-distance turnover, partly offset by higher internet earnings. Bell Aliant’s operating income decreased by 2.0% to CAD195 million on lower revenues partly offset by reductions in operating expenses. Bell Aliant’s net profit for the third quarter fell to CAD61.4 million from CAD74.3 million a year earlier. Karen Sheriff, president and chief executive of Bell Aliant, said: ‘I am very pleased with our expanding [fibre-to-the-premises] FibreOP service and the strong bundle adoption we are experiencing.’ At the end of October Bell Aliant launched a new 170Mbps (downstream)/30Mbps (upstream) fibre-to-the-home premium internet package.

Quarterly net income at BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada and Bell Aliant, was CAD528 million, down from CAD558 million in the year-ago quarter, due to higher taxes.

Canada, Bell Aliant (old), Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE)