Bell Canada has posted first-quarter operating revenues of CAD3.88 billion (USD4.03 billion), up by just 1.0% year-on-year, while its EBITDA was boosted by 6.4% to CAD1.51 billion in the three months ended 31 March 2011, driven by improved wireless (Bell Mobility) and pay-TV performance. Wireless operating revenues increased by 9.2% y-o-y in 1Q11, and EBITDA increased by 12.2%, despite the increased costs related to the higher number of post-paid gross subscriber activations and customer upgrades. Blended monthly ARPU increased by CAD1.61 to CAD51.68, reflecting data revenue growth of 38% driven by accelerating smartphone adoption and usage. The overall mobile customer base reached 7.247 million at the end of March 2011, an increase of 5.2% from twelve months earlier. Total gross activations in the three-month period were 424,000, or 1.2% lower than last year; smartphones represented 55% of gross wireless activations in Q1 and now make up 34% of Bell’s post-paid cellular subscriber base. Bell’s wireline division operating revenues decreased by 2.7% y-o-y in 1Q11 as TV revenue growth was more than offset by declines in local and access, long-distance, data and other revenues. However, wireline EBITDA increased by 4.0% due to cost reductions. Bell invested CAPEX of CAD515 million in the first quarter, 16.8% more than in the same period of 2010, due mainly to the deployment of broadband fibre to residential homes and businesses in Ontario and Quebec, ongoing enhancement of the fixed broadband network to support the commercial rollout of ‘Bell Fibe’ IPTV/triple-play services, and network capacity expansion to accommodate rising wireless data consumption.
Net profit at parent company BCE declined by 28.7% year-on-year to CAD503 million in January-March 2011, compared to CAD706 million in 1Q10. The BCE group includes Bell Canada’s sister telco Bell Aliant, which reported its first-quarter results at an earlier date.