Telus reports 87,000 mobile phone net additions in Q4 2020

The carrier's net income decreased 28.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago

Vancouver-based national carrier Telus had 87,000 mobile phone net additions in Q4 2020, compared to the 70,000 reported in Q4 2019.

Telus added a total of 253,000 new wireless, internet, TV and security customers in the quarter, according to the report. This includes the 87,000 mobile phone net additions, 88,000 mobile connected devices, 44,000 internet, 20,000 TV and 23,000 security customers.

For context, connected devices are any device other than a mobile phone with its own SIM or IMEI number. These data-centric devices include tablets, internet keys, Internet of Things, wearables, and connected automobile systems.

“Our total wireless subscriber base of 10.7 million is up 5.2 per cent over the last twelve months, reflecting a 2.5 per cent increase in our mobile phones subscriber base to approximately 9 million, and a 21 per cent increase to our mobile connected devices subscriber base to approximately 1.8 million.” the carrier outlined in the report.

The carrier’s mobile phone ABPU (average billing per unit) for the quarter was $70.07, reflecting a 3.7 percent decrease from the same period a year ago.

Telus notes that this decrease reflects the impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced roaming revenue, the temporary closure of around 90 percent of its stores and a decrease in chargeable data use as people continue to offload their mobile devices onto Wi-Fi networks.

“Mobile phone ABPU was also impacted by the impact of the competitive environment putting pressure on base rate plan prices in the current and prior periods,” the report states.

“The decline in mobile phone ABPU was partly offset by growth resulting from our combined Telus Easy Payment device financing, Peace of Mind endless data plans and Telus Family Discount offerings, with customers selecting plans with endless data or larger data buckets and higher-value smartphones in the sales mix.”

Telus reported a mobile phone ARPU (average revenue per unit) of $57.29, which is a 3.4 percent decrease from Q4 2019. The carrier says that mobile ARPU was impacted by the same reasons that affected ABPU.

Mobile phone churn rate was 1.09 percent, compared to the 1.20 percent reported in the same period a year ago. Churn rate is the percentage of subscribers who discontinue their subscriptions in a month.

The carrier says this reflects the impacts of changing customer behaviour due to travel restrictions and the reduction of shopping habits in retail outlets.

Telus’ net income for the quarter totalled $271 million, a decrease of 28.5 percent from the $379 million that was reported in the same period a year ago.

Its external wireless operating revenue and other income decreased by $42 million or 1.9 percent. Telus says this was due to lower network revenue and lower equipment revenue.

During Telus’ call with investors following the earnings release, the carrier outlined that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t expect roaming revenue to return to normal until 2022.

Executives also provided more information about the carrier’s partnership with Google and stated that the tech giant had reached out to Telus about a potential collaboration. The two companies have formed a 10-year alliance with the aim to bring digital transformation to several industries including telecommunications, healthcare and agriculture.

When asked by an analyst about whether he had any succession plans in place, Telus CEO Darren Entwistle outlined that he doesn’t have any plans to leave the company anytime soon and that there are several things he wants to see through at Telus, including 5G deployment.

Entwistle also reiterated a statement from previous calls outlining that “5G is a marathon, not a sprint.” He stated that the deployment of 5G will expand as more spectrum becomes available. Entwistle also noted that 5G will bring several enterprise solutions at Telus.