Bell Canada revealed a plan to pump up to an extra CAD1.2 billion ($934.7 million) into network improvements over the next two years, setting initial goals to double 5G coverage and expand its fibre products to 900,000 new locations in 2021.
The operator said CAD700 million of the total will be made this year, adding to its regular annual capex of approximately CAD4 billion. The bulk of the funding comes from a CAD1 billion sale of its data centres to Equinix in October 2020.
On an earnings call, CEO Mirko Bibic said the move would allow it to rapidly expand its 5G coverage from 25 per cent of Canada’s population at end-2020 to 50 per cent by end-2021, and grow its fibre and wireless home internet footprint to a total of 6.9 million locations.
He added it was the “right time for investments of this magnitude”, noting acceleration of network improvements would allow it to reap operational benefits sooner.
The operator launched its 5G network in five cities in June 2020.
Net income in Q4 2020 rose 28.9 per cent year-on-year to CAD932 million, while revenue fell 2.8 per cent to CAD6.1 billion, attributed to impacts from Covid-19 (coronavirus) on consumer and commercial activity.
Mobile segment revenue fell 1.9 per cent to CAD2.4 million, comprised of service revenue of CAD1.6 million (down 2.5 per cent) and flat equipment sales of CAD854 million .
It added 81,256 mobile subscribers in the quarter, down from 121,599 in Q4 2019.
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