Annual revenues at Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) grew by 2.1% in 2019 to CAD23.964 billion (USD18.036 billion) on 1.4% higher service revenue and a 6.6% increase in total product revenue. Adjusted EBITDA increased 6.0% to CAD10.106 billion in FY19, impacted positively by IFRS 16 accounting standards, while both revenue and EBITDA performances were consistent with BCE’s guidance targets. Group CAPEX for 2019 reached CAD3.988 billion, up slightly from CAD3.971 billion in FY18, with spending focused on direct fibre and Wireless Home Internet footprints (expanding to a combined 760,000 additional locations in twelve months) and ongoing wireless network investment including the deployment of small cells to increase LTE-A coverage, speed and quality, alongside expansion of fibre backhaul in preparation for the launch of 5G services.
Alongside its financial results, Bell announced finalising its first commercial 5G network equipment supplier agreement, with long-time partner Nokia. Bell added that it is ‘ready to deliver initial 5G service in urban centres across Canada as next-generation smartphones come to market in 2020,’ adding that it plans to ‘continue to enhance 5G access speeds, capacity and coverage as additional 5G wireless spectrum, including in the 3.5GHz band, becomes available this year through the federal government’s spectrum auction process.’
Bell’s total wireless customer base in 2019 increased 3.6% to 9,957,962, comprising 9,159,940 post-paid subscribers, up 3.7% over 2018, and 798,022 pre-paid customers (up 2.3%, reflecting strong demand for its low-cost Lucky Mobile pre-paid brand and its exclusive national retail distribution agreement with Dollarama). Retail fixed internet customers totalled 3,555,601 at the end of 2019, an increase of 4.3% over 2018, while Bell served 1,767,182 retail IPTV subscribers at end-2019, up 5.5% in twelve months.