In his first earnings conference call after announcing his retirement, Bell’s CEO George Cope said the carrier intends to launch 36-month device financing option soon, and that new unlimited data plans will positively grow Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
At its launch, Bell said plans start at $75 per month for 10GB of full-speed data. That price increased to $85 for 10GB as the carrier announced it revamped its wireless rate plans.
“We had a tremendous quarter on the unlimited data plans. It was not a move motivated by Bell in the marketplace, but one that made us be competitive,” Cope said. “ARPU will take time for us to all see, but it’s fair to say structural change does change ARPU growth in the industry. From our position, we will still have positive ARPU growth this year.”
He noted that simplifying Bell’s rate plans reflects the future of network performance.
“It brings that focus much more in the eyes of the consumer, and we come out way ahead of the competitors that brought out this change,” he said.
Cope said that the increase from $75 to $85 was a competitive move.
“[The] market will always be competitive and rate plans reflect that,” he said.
Bell intends to introduce 36-month device financing
Bell, Rogers and Telus all introduced their versions of device financing options. Bell’s device financing plan will give customers the option to pay their smartphone off in 24-monthly payments with zero percent interest.
Rogers’ device financing option allows customers to pay off their phone in 24 or 36 equal payments, an option that Telus began to offer shortly after as well.
“In the market where folks are getting handsets then paying for them over time that was another development in the industry that we will participate in,” Cope said. “We think one of the programs to have it over three years is an intelligent move in the market and one we will roll out as well.”
Cope did not mention a time frame as to when the option would roll out for Bell customers.
CRTC reviewing device financing information
It is worth adding though that the option of 36-month device financing is under review by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The commission sent a letter to carriers to seek more information and the deadline was July 30th.
CRTC chairman Ian Scott said in a phone interview that he was not able to talk about “what we are going to do next.”
He indicated that responses were received at the end of the day on July 30th and “they are being reviewed by staff as we speak.”
“We will decide on next steps, but it should be fairly quick,” he said, without indicating a date of when more details will be released.