Canada telecoms Telus, BCE chase down wireless leader

Thu Aug 7, 2014 12:03pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two of Canada's largest telecom companies reported strong quarterly wireless growth on Thursday as they chased down the wireless market leader, but fixed-line performance helped Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote) to outshine rival BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote).

BCE and Telus share a national network as they compete with the country's biggest wireless carrier, Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote), which said last month it added 38,000 postpaid wireless customers in the second quarter.

Telus said it signed up 78,000 net contract wireless subscribers, who typically pay more to use high-end smartphones, in the quarter. BCE, which operates under the Bell brand, signed up 66,186 such customers.

Telus said its average wireless customer, excluding those added in its acquisition of budget operator Public Mobile, paid C$62.51 a month, compared with C$59.49 at Bell and C$59.18 at Rogers.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose noted the strong wireless performance by Telus, the only major Canadian telco also enjoying fixed-line revenue and earnings expansion. He was also impressed by BCE.

"As with Telus, these results should allay fears of a big slowdown in incumbent wireless growth," Ghose said in a research note.

The Canadian government is eager to introduce a fourth wireless competitor in each of the country's regions, a policy that hangs over the prospects of the three big incumbents.

Telus reported a 33 percent jump in quarterly profit while BCE, Canada's largest telecom company, posted a 6 percent gain, boosted by its acquisition of Astral Media.   Continued...

A Telus retail store is seen in downtown Montreal, June 21, 2007. BCE Inc., Canada's largest telecoms group and a possible target of three international buyout bid groups, said it was in talks to explore the possibility of combining with rival Telus Corp.     REUTERS/Shaun Best