BCE Inc.’s BCE-T chief executive officer says his company is not susceptible to the kind of outage that left millions of Rogers Communications Inc. customers without both wireless and internet service last month.
Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, said the Montreal-based telecom uses separate infrastructure for its wireless and broadband, or wireline, networks.
“They are configured such that a major disruption on the wireline network does not take down the national wireless network,” Mr. Bibic said Thursday during a conference call to discuss the telecom giant’s second-quarter results.
“Now it’s clear that no network is perfect and no network is immune to outages, but network architecture clearly does make a difference,” Mr. Bibic said. He added that BCE has invested more than $1-billion in its network cores since the start of the pandemic and has an automated customer notification system in the event of localized outages. The core is essentially the brain of a telecom network, receiving, processing, transmitting and connecting all traffic.
Mr. Bibic’s comments come after a widespread outage on July 8 took down wireless, internet and home phone service for all Rogers customers. Rogers has blamed the outage on a coding error that was introduced during an upgrade to the single core infrastructure that supports the Toronto-based telecom’s wireless and broadband networks.
Rogers has faced criticism for being slow to communicate with its customers in the early hours of the outage. The telecom has said it plans to physically separate its wireless and wireline core networks to ensure that any future outages don’t affect both services.
Mr. Bibic sought to reassure investors about the reliability of Bell’s network as the telecom reported a boost in its second-quarter revenue and an increase in new wireless subscribers.
BCE reported $5.86-billion in revenue for the three-month period ended June 30, up 2.9 per cent from a year ago when it had $5.7-billion in revenue.
The company had $654-million in profit in its most recent quarter, down 10.9 per cent compared with the same quarter last year when it earned $734-million. The earnings amounted to 66 cents per share, down from 76 cents per share.
The company attributed the decrease to higher expenses related to derivatives it uses for hedging, higher depreciation and amortization expenses and higher severance and acquisition costs.
After adjusting for some of those items, its profit came to $791-million, up 5.3 per cent from a year ago when it had $751-million in adjusted earnings. The adjusted earnings amounted to 87 cents per share, up from 83 cents.
Analysts had been expecting 84 cents per share in adjusted earnings and $5.87-billion in revenue, according to the consensus estimate from S&P Capital IQ.
The company added 83,197 net new postpaid wireless customers and 27,564 net new prepaid customers during the quarter. (Postpaid subscribers are those who are billed at the end of the month for the services they used, while prepaid customers pay upfront for wireless services.)
The telecom said its wireless business benefited from higher foot traffic through its stores, growth in immigration and increased demand from business customers. The company also decreased its churn, which represents the rate of customer turnover on a monthly basis.
RBC analyst Drew McReynolds said the results indicate that the Canadian wireless market is continuing to recover following the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions.
Scotiabank analyst Maher Yaghi said that although BCE’s media business performed well, earning $821-million in revenue, the segment could see weaker results in the second half of the year as the economy slows.
During Thursday’s call, Mr. Bibic also acknowledged the passing of former Bell Canada president and CEO, Jean de Grandpré. Mr. de Grandpré, who died over the weekend at the age of 100, guided the telecom through a period of transformation, including the launch of mobile phone services, the introduction of fibre-optic technology and the rise of personal computers.
“Under his management in the 1970s and early 80s, Bell built its telecommunications leadership position with positive growth across our many business segments. Mr. de Grandpre led the formation of BCE in 1983 and we’re now a $23-billion company,” Mr. Bibic said.
“On behalf of all members of the Bell team, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the de Grandpré family and my sincere thanks for his exceptional contributions to BCE, to Quebec and to Canada.”
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