Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) posted total revenue of CAD5.734 billion (USD4.262 billion)) for the three months ended 31 March 2019, up 2.6% compared to the same period of last year. First-quarter service revenue grew 1.6% to CAD5.045 billion and product revenue increased 10.1% to CAD689 million, reflecting increases at both wireless and wireline divisions, partly offset by a modest year-on-year revenue decline at Bell Media. Total Q1 net income rose 11.6% y-o-y to CAD791 million and net earnings attributable to common shareholders totalled CAD740 million, up 12.0%, resulting from growth in adjusted EBITDA and higher other income, driven mainly by net mark-to-market gains on derivatives used to economically hedge equity settled share-based compensation plans. The adoption of IFRS 16 accounting standards did not have a significant impact on net earnings.
BCE’s CAPEX totalled CAD850 million in 1Q19, down from CAD931 million in 1Q18, reflecting slower winter construction activity and lower planned spending in 2019. Investment focused on expanding fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and ‘fixed-wireless-to-the-home (WTTH)’ to more locations; ongoing wireless investment including the deployment of small cells to improve network coverage, signal quality, data backhaul and speeds; and higher spending on digital media platforms.
Post-paid mobile net customer additions totalled 50,204 in Q1 2019, down from 68,487 in Q1 2018, taking the post-paid total to 8.808 million, up 4.0% y-o-y. Quarterly pre-paid subscriber net losses lessened to 11,922 (from 24,110), reflecting a 56.2% increase in gross additions driven by demand for Bell’s low-budget Lucky Mobile pre-paid sub-brand. Pre-paid churn increased 1.09 percentage points y-o-y to 4.49% due to higher customer deactivations from increased competitive intensity and harmonisation of Bell’s pre-paid deactivation policy across all Bell wireless brands from 120-150 days to 90 days. Total wireless customers increased 3.1% y-o-y to 9.481 million at 31 March 2019.
Bell added 22,671 retail fixed broadband customers in 1Q19 (24.9% more than it added in 1Q18), reflecting expansion of FTTP and WTTH footprints (which together reached 4.8 million locations at end-March 2019, up from 4.0 million a year earlier) and the ‘pull-through effect’ of internet customer activations from Bell’s ‘Alt TV’ service. The BCE retail fixed internet customer base rose 3.9% y-o-y to 3.442 million at the end of Q1 2019.