Seeking to maintain the upper hand against Canada's largest cable operators, BCE Inc. is betting the farm on fiber to keep it the biggest and fastest broadband provider in the country.
Bell Canada -- which competes against such major Canadian cablecos as Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco and Videotron -- is aggressively building an all-fiber network throughout the nation. And it's using that growing network to offer gigabit speeds, topping out at 1.5 Gbit/s and earning a recent nod from PCMag as the fastest ISP in Canada.
So far, the Canadian telco has rolled out its new FTTP network to 50% of its nearly 10-million-premises footprint. It closed out June with 4.9 million homes and businesses passed by its new all-fiber lines, up more than 700,000 from a year earlier. It also has 4.8 million locations passed by fiber-to-the-neighborhood (FTTN) lines and 100,000 locations passed by its even newer fixed-wireless-to-the-home (WTTH) networks.
These multi-billion-dollar investments in fiber-builds appear to be paying off so far. In another strong performance fueled by fiber, Bell Canada reported Thursday morning it added more than 19,000 broadband customers in the second quarter, up 51% from the year-ago period. With that increase, the telco closed out June with more than 3.46 million residential data customers, up 4.1% from a year earlier, easily maintaining its lead over Rogers as Canada's largest broadband provider.
Bell Canada also notched nearly 17,000 new IPTV subscribers in the spring quarter, pushing its Fibe TV customer base over the 1.7 million mark. The quarterly gain, however, represented about a 20% drop from last year's sub increase as the slower growth of its Fibe TV footprint and increased OTT video substitution cut into the provider's gains.
Overall, the Montreal-based telco added 52,000 FTTH customers over the spring as it continued to extend its fiber footprint to new regions of the country.
"We're really seeing the benefits of our strategic fiber investments," said BCE COO Mirko Bibic, speaking on the company's earnings call this morning. Bibic, who will succeed the retiring George Cope as the company's president and CEO in January. "We'll continue on our quest to be the broadband leader in Canada."
Due primarily to these IPTV and broadband subscriber gains (as well as price hikes), Bell Canada reported its wireline operating revenue rose 0.9% year-over-year to nearly C$3.1 billion ($2.3 billion US). That increase would have been greater if not for non-recurring revenue generated a year ago from the G7 Summit and Ontario general election, the company said.
For more on BCE's second-quarter results, please turn to our sister site, Light Reading. (See Bell Canada Chows Down on High-Fiber Diet .)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading