Wireless subscribers, data usage put BCE growth ahead of Rogers
MONTREAL — Two of Canada’s major telecommunications companies reported strong wireless subscriber growth in their 2016 financial year, buoyed in part by immigrants purchasing cell services and more people using two smartphones.
BCE Inc. beat analyst expectations as it added 315,311 net postpaid wireless subscribers in its last fiscal year, ending Dec. 31, 2016, up 19 per cent compared to 265,369 in 2015.
In its fourth quarter, BCE added 112,393 such customers, up by 21,085 or 23 per cent over the same quarter the previous year.
Analysts expected roughly 99,000 new BCE subscribers in the fourth quarter, analyst Drew McReynolds of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. wrote in a note.
Customers also increased their wireless data usage by 41 per cent, BCE said.
“Obviously very, very strong net add results,” president and CEO George Cope said in a conference call with analysts.
He attributed the subscriber growth to some customers leaving discount providers in favour of BCE, as well as government policies driving significant immigration and creating a growing marketplace for telecoms. An increasing number of people using two smartphones — one for business and one for personal use — also factored.
BCE outpaced Rogers Communications in subscriber growth. Rogers added 93,000 net postpaid wireless subscribers in its fourth quarter, also outpacing analysts’ expectations. Telus Corp. reports its fourth quarter results next week.
BCE in part attributed its improved fourth quarter and fiscal year profits to strong wireless subscriber growth and increased data usage.