Montreal-based national carrier Bell reported 50,204 new postpaid wireless net additions in Q1 2019, a decline from 68,487 that was reported in the same period the previous year.
In its quarterly earnings report that was released on May 2nd, the carrier said the 7.7 percent decrease in net additions was “mainly to fewer customer additions from our long-term mobile services contract with Shared Services Canada as the migration process nears completion.” Bell also said in the previous year postpaid net and gross additions “benefitted from aggressive holiday promotions that carried over into Q1 2018.”
The carrier reported that prepaid net losses improved by 50.6 percent to 11,922 from 24,110 that was reported in Q1 2018, a 56.2 percent increase in gross additions.
Bell said this was “driven by continued strong demand for our low-cost Lucky Mobile prepaid service.”
The report noted Bell’s exclusive partnership with Dollarama to sell Lucky Mobile SIM cards for $4 CAD. Beginning May 1st, all existing 1,200 Dollarama stores will begin selling the cards.
The company expects to grow the prepaid market more, according to two Bell representatives that spoke to MobileSyrup exclusively when the deal was announced. Dollarama will also sell SIM cards from Bell’s flanker brand Virgin Mobile, as well.
Currently, these SIM cards are sold at various retailers for $10. When asked why Bell was knocking down the price of SIM cards, one of the representatives said: “Dollarama has a mandate overall that nothing will be sold over $4 CAD so from a partner perspective, if we want to do business with them we had to live within that realm.”
Bell now has 9,480,835 total prepaid and postpaid wireless customers, a 3.1 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago, the report said.
Postpaid churn for Q1 2019 improved 0.06 percentage points to 1.07 percent, the report said. This is an improvement from the 1.26 percent rate that the carrier reported in Q4 2018.
Churn represents the rate at which subscribers left Bell for one of the company’s competitors.
The average billing per user increased by 1.2 percent to $67.35, which Bell said was because of “more customers moving to higher-value monthly plans with larger data allotments, the flow-through of price changes and subscriber adjustments made at the beginning of the quarter.”
The company’s total operating revenue for its wireless division increased by 4.5 percent to $2.12 million. Bell said this increase was mainly because of a “healthy year-over-year subscriber base growth.”
Total operating revenue totalled to $5.73 billion, a 2.6 percent increase compared to the $5.59 billion that was reported in the same period a year ago.
Bell’s net earnings totalled to $791 million, an 11.6 percent increase compared to $709 million that was reported in the same period a year ago.
“The strength of Bell’s industry-leading broadband networks delivered leading customer additions in broadband Internet, TV and postpaid wireless, and higher customer satisfaction reflected in improved churn performance across our operating segments in Q1. A strong start to the year, and the Bell team will continue to lead the way in network, service and content innovation in 2019, including the ongoing expansion of our broadband services into rural Canada and preparation for the introduction of 5G wireless,” Bell’s CEO George Cope said in a press release.