Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Bell Canada Cites Demand for HD Programming, Launches EVDO Wireless

Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) reported Q3 2005 revenues of Cdn$5.0 billion, up 3.6% from the same period last year. Operating income for the quarter increased to Cdn$957 million, from $25 million in the third quarter of 2004(1), due primarily to restructuring charges recognized in 2004 for the company's employee departure program. Earnings per share (EPS) were $0.48 cents, up from $0.09 the previous year.

Some operational highlights from the quarterly report:


ExpressVu posted its best third quarter since 2001 as net additions jumped 148% over the same quarter in 2004 to 82,000. So far this year, Bell has added 174,000 net new video subscribers, bringing the total subscriber base to 1,677,000, up 14.9% year-over-year. The improvement in net activations this quarter and year-to-date was driven by the positive impact of a set-top box rental program and the addition of 12,500 subscribers from the acquisition of Cable VDN Inc.

Video revenues increased by 17.8% year-over-year, driven by a higher customer base, an improvement in ARPU of $3 over the third quarter of last year and a churn rate of 1.0%, down by 0.1 points year-over-year. The higher ARPU is a result of a pricing increase of $2 and greater up-selling initiatives that leveraged strong programming and hardware offerings. Bell now has 28 HD channels and is the only carrier of NHL Centre Ice in Canada. The company also noted strong demand for its new 9200 HD PVR (Personal Video Recorder) Plus, which can be connected to two televisions for separate program recording and viewing on each.


Bell attracted 358,000 gross subscribers, a 27% increase over the third quarter of 2004. Bell's new Push-to-Talk service, called "10-4", and BlackBerry subscriptions helped deliver 68%, or 243,000 postpaid subscribers of the total gross activations. "10-4" ended the third quarter with 70,000 consumer and business subscribers.
Net additions were 123,000 in the third quarter, up 12.8% over the same period last year.

At the end of the third quarter, Bell had 5.2 million wireless subscribers, an increase of 11.1% when compared to September 30, 2004.

In mid-August, Bell introduced MOBI TV, the first Canadian mobile television application. This new technology will provide customers with a variety of television programming on their mobile handsets.
On October 31, Bell became the first wireless operator in Canada to launch Evolution, Data Optimized (EVDO).

High-speed Internet

Bell's high-speed Internet service added 106,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2005, an increase of 26% over the same period in 2004. The total high-speed subscriber base reached 2,134,000, up 24% over the third quarter of last year.