Bell gains 91,000 new wireless customers in Q4 2015, promises high-speed LTE for all Canadians

Daniel Bader

February 4, 2016 9:57am

A week after Rogers posted earnings in-line with expectations, BCE has done the same, announcing today that it earned 496 million in profit, or 58 cents per share, on $5.6 billion in revenue in the three months ending December 31st, 2015.

The company added 91,000 net wireless customers in the fourth quarter, slightly below analysts’ expectations but well ahead of Rogers’ 31,000 for the same period. Total Bell Wireless customers grew 1.6% to 8,245,831.

Wireless and its Fibe brand, which includes high-speed internet and TV service, continue to be Bell’s driving forces as wireline and satellite subscribers retract quarter over quarter. The company noted that there was a 23 percent increase in data revenue compared to the same time last year as more customers transitioned to LTE devices. On average, customers on LTE use 1.5GB of data per month compared to 1GB for customers on 3G.

This data boost pushed blended average revenue per user, or ARPU, up 4.4 percent to $63.67, well ahead of Rogers’ $59.12 for the same period. Rogers now promotes postpaid ARPA as its defining metric as it focuses less on its dwindling, low-cost prepaid customer base. ARPU is the total revenue divided by the number of subscribers, and ARPA is defined as the average revenue per account.


Bell announced that its LTE network now reaches 96 percent of Canadians, and will reach 98 percent by the end of this calendar year, fuelled by an expansion in 700Mhz spectrum deployment. Bell says that it will be the first Canadian carrier to match its HSPA+ coverage with LTE.

The company also notes that its dual-band LTE, which aggregates AWS-1 and PCS, now reaches 48 percent of Canadians, with plans to expand to 75 percent by the end of the year. Its tri-band LTE service, which tacks on 700Mhz to that spindle, will proliferate throughout 2016 as more Category 9-enabled devices come online, supporting speeds up to 335Mbits.

As predicted, Bell has also committed to filling in coverage gaps with small cells and in-building [antennas] this year to “optimize service and data capacity.”

Elsewhere, Bell said that it added over 74,000 new Fibe TV customers, making it the “fastest-growing broadband TV provider in Canada.” While it didn’t add as many customers as the same time last year, Bell now has 1.18 million Fibe TV subscribers, more than offsetting the loss of satellite TV customers.

After announcing that it was laying off 380 media jobs, Bell Media revenues were $816 million for the quarter, up 3.4 percent on higher conventional TV ad revenues. Bell notes that its exclusive deal to distribute HBO content in Canada, plus the launch of CraveTV to all Canadians, will continue to drive growth in the media business.

For 2016, BCE expects one to three percent revenue growth and two to four percent adjusted EBITDA growth, in line with 2015. The company plans to boost its per-share dividend five percent in 2016 to $2.73 per share.

  • cartfan88

    Well might as well increase the plans by $5 a month.

  • Scott

    Bell, please stop expanding LTE and making us pay through the nose for it. I’m happy with HSPA and reasonable prices for data!

    • vn33

      “reasonable prices” is not in the Robellus’ dictionary .. sorry!

    • Robobotic

      Regardless of peak speed, LTE users have less access failures, lower latency, and better speeds in poor conditions. Cost is a separate issue…

  • Ricky Bobby

    We gotta feel for Bell. Because of the economy and low canadian dollar they’re going through some tough times

    • Jason

      if they weren’t recording record profits I would agree with you

  • St. Misery

    You don’t get that network quality, coverage, and continuous improvement without paying for it somehow. Price increases are no fun for end users but neither are dead zones and dropped calls. Just ask a Wind customer.

    • CheeseAvatar

      I think the issue is that for a lot of people we dont care about get 50mbs download on our phone with a data cap of 1-2gb.

      We would rather pay less and have something like 5-10mbs download with a larger cap.

      Whats the point of 1-2gb if i can go though it in 5 seconds

  • Crossed

    Scum bag Bell:
    496 million in profit
    Lays off 380 people

  • Hello Moto

    If Bell, Rogers, and Telus all gained thousands of customers this past quarter, then who is losing those customers?

    • manpreet singh

      Regional carriers

    • hoo dat

      Rogers picked up an extra 22 subs when they bought Mobilicity. (I patiently await the ensuing wrath of The Mobies).

    • Stephen B Morris


    • Robobotic

      Each other (churn), new Canadians, and the few people that didn’t have wireless service.

  • G.P.

    Your title is mis leading. No there will not be coverage for all Canadians. The postal code of P0M 2W0 in northern Ontario (west of lake nipissing) smack in the middle between Sudbury & North Bay has 0% coverage. You have to drive to Noelville or drive to Hagar for coverage (10/15 mins drive). Rogers has coverage but not Bell. This has always been a dead zone for Bell.

    • Adil Butt

      Nowhere did it say “all”, guess that place is apart of the 2%.

    • frenchsteve

      Send in a complaint through the *TELUS Network Experience (TNE) application – a free and easy-to-use mobile app, which gives customers the opportunity to provide real time, on-the-go feedback about wireless service on the TELUS network* – Both Bell and Telus share network towers.

  • Ipse

    ARPU up 4.4% and the F word immediately comes to mind.

  • Mike Scott

    The only reason I can really see why thes eguys are going for speed is s they can.. one day.. offer home internet over the cell network.. these speeds are unnecessary for 75% of the canadian population

  • Andre Marion

    MobileSyrup: What is the current customer breakdown share of the carriers for all Canadians? Is there anyway to see what the big 3 shares are and the sub-brands as well (Fido, Koodo, Virgin, Wind, etc…)?