Bell Begins LTE-A 220Mbps Rollout

Bell Canada has begun the rollout of an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network offering mobile data download speeds of up to 220Mbps on selected CAT 6 devices including Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6/Edge and HTC One M9. The following cities will be the first to receive Bell’s LTE-A services: Greater Toronto Area, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Halifax. According to Canadian tech website MobileSyrup, Bell is providing the 220Mbps speeds via its Band 7 (2600MHz) spectrum and carrier aggregation between Band 4 (AWS) and Band 2 (PCS 1900MHz) to reach those speeds, whist Bell also operates LTE in the 700MHz band. Note that rival Rogers Communications switched on its first commercial LTE-A coverage zones last October.

Bell’s LTE (up to 150Mbps) network currently covers 91% of the population, while it plans to reach 98% by the end of this year.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article. 


Nine Operators Win 2500MHz Licences

Canada’s Industry Minister James Moore yesterday (12 May 2015) announced the list of provisional licence winners in the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) spectrum auction in the 2500-2690MHz (‘2500MHz’) band. 302 of 318 licences on offer in 61 areas across Canada were awarded to nine companies, with a total value of CAD755.37 million (USD626.49 million), after eleven participants were qualified to bid in the auction which opened on 14 April. The 2500MHz band licensing was particularly aimed at providing broadband services in rural areas, whilst also increasing the spectrum available nationwide to meet the demand for 4G mobile services on smartphones and tablets. The auction featured spectrum caps and smaller geographic licence areas to ensure that four or more wireless carriers, as well as rural internet service providers, had the opportunity to hold 2500MHz spectrum licences in every area of the country. All licences contain strict ‘use it or lose it’ deployment requirements.

The nine licence winners bid the following amounts (for 2500MHz concessions in the named provinces/territories):

Telus – CAD478.82 million (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut);

Videotron – CAD186.95 million (Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia);

Bell – CAD29.98 million (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut);

Xplornet – CAD25.43 million (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia);

Rogers – CAD24.09 million (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia);

Eastlink – CAD4.82 million (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta);

Corridor Communications (CCI Wireless) – CAD2.30 million (Ontario, Alberta);

MTS Allstream – CAD2.24 million (Manitoba);

TBayTel – CAD1.73 million (Ontario).

Two other qualified bidders, Wind Mobile and SSi Micro, did not acquire any licences.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

BCE, Rogers Carve-Up of Retailer Glentel Approved

Canada’s Competition Bureau has approved a transaction under which Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) and its national quadruple-play telecoms rival Rogers Communications will take 50% equity each in retailer Glentel (Canada), following the latter’s acquisition by BCE which is set for completion on 20 May. Glentel will continue to sell mobile products from both operators at its 494 retail locations across Canada (which are run under names including WirelessWave, Tbooth wireless, Wireless Etc and Target Mobile).

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article. 

CRTC Issues Wholesale Mobile Roaming Decisions: Opts to Regulate Rogers, Bell and Telus

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued its final decisions on wholesale wireless roaming, following a lengthy consultation period. With the regulator having found that, under current market conditions, competition in the wireless market is ‘likely not sustainable’, it will therefore regulate the wholesale roaming rates charged by the national cellular network operating companies, Rogers Communications, Bell Mobility and Telus Communications. In light of these measures, the CRTC is recommending that the government repeal the legislated roaming caps that remain in place. The CRTC adds that is taking action to reduce certain barriers faced by mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). In a related decision, the regulator stated that its existing processes are sufficient to address tower- and site-sharing issues related to the rates, terms, and conditions of wholesale agreements.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

CRTC Orders Cheaper Northern Internet

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has ordered Northwestel – part of the Bell Canada group and the dominant operator in the Far North – to lower the rates for certain residential DSL internet services by 10%-30% by 4 May 2015. Northwestel will not be able to increase any residential internet rates until the end of 2017 at the earliest, and will need to seek the CRTC’s permission before doing so. In addition, Northwestel will no longer be allowed to charge additional fees to customers who subscribe to standalone internet services. From February 2016 Northwestel must also lower its charges for additional data usage by at least CAD0.50 (USD40) per gigabyte.

In 2013, the CRTC found that there was limited competition in the market for retail internet services offered using terrestrial facilities in Northwestel’s footprint. Consequently, the CRTC decided that it would begin to regulate, on an exceptional basis, Northwestel’s rates for these services.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Bell Reaches 120 More LTE Communities

Bell Canada yesterday announced that 120 more small communities across Quebec and Ontario have joined Bell Mobility’s 4G LTE mobile broadband network. Employing new 700MHz bandwidth (which first went commercial last April) and other spectrum assets, Bell is expanding LTE services to small towns, rural communities and remote locations in every region of Canada including the North. Bell earlier announced the launch of 4G LTE service in 52 small communities across all four provinces in Atlantic Canada and will make further LTE rollout announcements in 2015. Bell’s LTE footprint already covers 86% of the national population and the company plans to bring the network to more than 98% of Canadians this year with its ongoing expansion to smaller communities.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Bell Canada Service Revenues Climb 2.2% In Q4

Quadruple-play operator Bell Canada’s total revenues grew 2.6% year-on-year to CAD4.940 billion (USD3.946 billion) in Q4 2014 on 2.2% higher service revenues, reflecting a strong increase in wireless (Bell Mobility) turnover and positive overall fixed network division growth. Product revenues grew 6.8% over Q4 2013, reflecting more wireless device upgrades and increased business data equipment sales, while quarterly Bell Media revenues declined 3.9% y-o-y. Adjusted EBITDA in Q4 was up 2.2% to CAD1.730 billion, driven by increases of 10.6% in wireless and 2.0% in wireline operations, moderated by a 16.5% decline at Bell Media, due to higher costs for sports TV rights and content investments for Bell’s new ‘CraveTV’ on-demand video streaming service. Bell’s consolidated EBITDA margin in Q4 2014 was 35.0% compared to 35.2% in Q4 2013.

For full-year 2014 Bell Canada’s operating revenues and EBITDA were up 3.5% and 3.7%, respectively, to CAD18.734 billion and CAD7.066 billion, driven by the increased contribution of wireless, TV, internet and media. Total revenues generated by these four service areas grew by CAD814 million, or 5.5%, in 2014. Bell Canada’s CAPEX for the year increased by 4.7% to CAD3.142 billion, supporting the continued deployment of broadband fibre to homes and businesses to expand its IPTV footprint and enable faster internet speeds; the continuing rollout of 4G LTE mobile service in markets across Canada; higher spending on network capacity to support increasing internet bandwidth usage and mobile data consumption; and enhancements to customer service delivery systems.

In FY 2014 Bell’s wireless revenues increased 6.7% to CAD6.241 billion underpinned by annual service revenues growing 6.4% to CAD5.705 billion and product revenues up 11.8% to CAD483 million, while adjusted wireless EBITDA grew 9.6% to CAD2.564 billion in the year. Total Bell mobile customers grew 2.5% to 7,970,702, and post-paid customers represented 88% of this total at the end of 2014, compared to 86% one year earlier. Including sister company Bell Aliant, total wireless customers grew 2.4% in 2014 to 8,118,628. Blended ARPU increased 5.5% to CAD61.12 in Q4 2014, representing the 20th consecutive quarter of year-on-year improvement. Growth was driven by accelerating data usage on Bell’s expanding 4G LTE network (reaching 86% of the population) as the proportion of smartphone users continued to increase, and the favourable impact of two-year contract pricing introduced in 2013 following implementation of the federal Wireless Code of Conduct.

Bell Canada reported 2,287,489 fixed broadband internet customers at the end of 2014, a 4.7% increase over 2013. Including Bell Aliant, the Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) group had 3,297,026 fixed broadband subscribers at that date, up 5.1% y-o-y. Wireline data revenues were up 4.0% to CAD1.573 billion in Q4 2014, the result of combined internet and TV service revenue growth of 5.1%, and growth in IP broadband connectivity and business service solutions of approximately 3% and 10%, respectively. The Bell ‘Fibe TV’ IPTV footprint reached more than five million households at the end of 2014, compared to approximately 4.3 million at the end of 2013. Including Bell Aliant’s ‘FibreOP’ service area, BCE’s total IPTV footprint now covers six million homes, up from 5.1 million at end-2013.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.