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BCE reports first quarter 2023 results

BCE Inc. reported results for the first quarter (Q1) of 2023.

“Bell has delivered a solid start to the year with results that were on plan and that reflect our consistently strong execution,” said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada.

“Our strategy to build the best networks and our compelling products and services are clearly resonating with customers, as is our customer-first approach. I’m particularly proud of the gains we’ve made to champion customer experience as evidenced in the 2022-23 CCTS mid-year report. Bell was the only national service provider to experience a decrease in complaints during a period when complaints were up 12% year-over-year across the industry.

Overall, our performance in wireless and Internet helped to drive strong 3.5% consolidated revenue growth, offsetting the impacts of an advertising slowdown within our Bell Media segment. Our mobile phone postpaid net subscriber activations were up 26.5%, with 5.4% higher wireless service revenue. We also added nearly 48,000 new FTTH customers in Q1, up 24% over last year, with consumer Internet revenue up 10%.

In line with our broadband network buildout plan, we invested close to $1.1 billion in capital expenditures in Q1, and remain on pace to expand our fibre footprint by 650,000 locations and cover 85% of the population with our 5G service by the end of 2023. While we’re currently experiencing an uncertain economic environment amid headwinds, inflationary cost pressures and regulatory uncertainty, we remain committed to our corporate purpose to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world. As we look ahead to the remainder of 2023, we are confident in our ability to continue delivering results with consistent, strong execution.”

Key business developments
Champion customer experience
In the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) 2022-23 mid-year report, Bell was the only national service provider to experience a decrease in complaints during a period when complaints were up 12% year-over-year across the industry. Bell experienced a 6% reduction in complaints, reducing its overall share of complaints to less than 15%. Overall, Bell’s share of complaints have decreased by 16% year over year, and an impressive 55% since the 2017-2018 mid-year report was published. Bell won a Webby award5 for its MyBell app, recognized by both a panel of expert judges and the voting public. The app was judged among 14,000 applicants across criteria including user experience, design, innovation and overall usability. Bell additionally introduced a new Wi-Fi checkup feature for the app, which is now available for customers in Ontario and Québec.

Building the best networks
Bell, in partnership with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, is expanding the province’s public safety radio network, improving communications for first responders throughout the region and enabling inter-operable communications throughout the Atlantic provinces, the first such inter-provincial public safety network in North America. In Manitoba, Bell is expanding fibre Internet to six rural communities, reaching an additional 7,500 locations starting this summer, and is expanding its 5G+ wireless service in Winnipeg. Bell is also expanding fibre Internet access to homes and businesses in the Ontario communities of Leamington, Lincoln, and Essex Centre and Harrow. Bell continued to work closely with governments on projects to bring broadband access to remote and other hard to serve areas, including in Northern Ontario, and in Newfoundland and Labrador with the Universal Broadband Fund.

Accelerate cloud strategy for Canadian businesses
Bell has completed the sale of its 63% majority stake in Pinewood Toronto Studios to focus on its core services for residential and business customers. The cash proceeds from the sale will help accelerate Bell’s core growth strategy, including the acquisition of FX Innovation, a Montréal-based IT services and consulting company providing business clients with cloud-focused managed and professional services and workflow automation solutions. The acquisition is the latest building block in positioning Bell as a tech services leader for its enterprise customers, and is expected to close in late Q2 – early Q3, 2023, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

In addition, Bell introduced two new cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) cybersecurity solutions with Palo Alto Networks, Cloud Security Posture Assessment (CSPA) and Cloud Security Posture Protection (CSPP), to help businesses identify threats to enterprise data in the cloud and provide managed services to protect data across multi-cloud environments.

Drive growth with innovative services
Bell has entered a multi-year strategic agreement with Air Canada, which includes premier sponsorship of its in-flight Wi-Fi, free in-flight messaging for Aeroplan members and the distribution of complimentary SIM cards on board to enable newcomers and visitors arriving in Canada to activate a wireless SIM while still in the air.

Delivering the most compelling content
Bell Media announced a long-term, exclusive licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery. The agreement includes content from Warner Bros. Discovery’s vast portfolio including HBO Originals, Max Originals, Warner Bros. films, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, new cable and library television series, and pay and post-pay window rights for Warner Bros. films and library films. French-language rights secured include HBO and Max Originals, Pay 1 films, Friends, and the Harry Potter collection of films, among other content.

In Q1, TSN and RDS were the number one English and French non-news specialty channels respectively in the A25-54 age group, according to Numeris.6 Super Bowl LVII was the most-watched broadcast in Canada this past quarter, with an average audience of 8.67 million viewers on CTV, TSN and RDS, up 6% compared to last year and reaching over 17.5 million Canadians.7 Other sports highlights included the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament and the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, both on TSN, and the 2023 Masters Tournament on CTV, TSN and RDS. Season one of The Last of Us is the number one show in Crave history for the first seven-day streams season average. The premiere of Survivor Québec on Noovo was the top-watched show of the day (April 2) on French Québec television among the A25-54 age group.8

Bell for Better: Better World, Better Communities, Better Workplace
Bell has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers9 for the seventh consecutive year by Mediacorp. Bell was also named a Top Employer for Young People9 for the sixth consecutive year, a Top Family-Friendly Employer9 for the fourth consecutive year, and a Montréal Top Employer9 for the 11th year in a row by the organization. Bell ranked third among telecom companies and 42nd overall in the Corporate Knights’ Global 100 most sustainable corporations for 202310, and ranked 65th in the 2023 Clean20011 list of global companies that put sustainability at the core of their business. Bell received an A- score (leadership band) for its 2022 CDP12 disclosure overall, and ranked A for the Supplier Engagement portion of the disclosure – the only Canadian telecom company to be ranked A, and in the top 8% of all reporting companies. Bell announced a $15 million commitment to the Kids Help Phone Feel Out Loud campaign to expand access to its e-mental health services.

CT Bureau

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