Building the networks of the future now
Building the networks of the future now. The robustness of Bell’s network infrastructure during COVID-19, further reinforced with continued investment in capacity and coverage in response to unprecedented usage by consumers, businesses, governments and emergency responders, was reflected in 99.99+% availability across our wireline and wireless networks throughout the crisis.
Bell also exceeded our broadband network expansion objectives for the year, including a significant acceleration of our service footprint in rural and remote communities.
Our all-fibre connections reached approximately 5.6 million homes and businesses by the end of the year, and we accelerated our rural Wireless Home Internet (WHI) rollout in response to increased demand during COVID-19 to reach nearly half a million households. That included expansion to rural Atlantic Canada, alongside an increase in WHI download/upload speeds to 50/10 megabits per second (Mbps).
Bell also launched the country’s fastest 5G wireless network in more than 150 centres, laying the groundwork for a generational change in connectivity possibilities for all Canadians. Building on our world-class 4G LTE network, which today reaches over 99% of Canadians, Bell’s early 5G leadership means we’re well prepared to continue offering Canadians the best in broadband wireless into the future.
Our leading investments in research and development continue to enable the rollout of innovative communications services, including new residential Internet and TV options; enhanced Bell Smart Home monitoring and control systems; and more advanced connections for Canadian businesses of all sizes, including the integrated 5G, cloud and IoT solutions that will be key drivers of Canada’s growing digital economy.
Bell remains committed to delivering the most compelling content across all platforms, and to seeking new opportunities for growth in a fast-changing media sector marked by changing consumer tastes, all-new ways for audiences to access content and growing competition from well-funded international competitors.
We built on our position as Canada’s top TV provider in 2020 by launching new viewing platforms like Virgin TV and Bell Streamer, and continuing to grow our Crave customer base with the addition of extensive French-language content. Recognizing the opportunity to bring fresh choice and enhanced competition to the Québec media market, Bell Media also launched the French-language Noovo network, which joins our other premier media brands including CTV, Canada’s #1 English-language TV network, and TSN and RDS, the top sports networks in the country.
Champion customer experience
Network leadership combined with innovation in service delivery enabled our team to further enhance the Bell customer experience in 2020. We continued to unveil a broad array of new support options, many accelerated by the unique challenges of COVID-19.
In 2020, we launched appointment-based sales, customer self-installations and our unique Move Valet service, while also making significant investments in digital sales and support platforms. Today, more than half of all Bell customer transactions are taking place online.
A strong indicator of the progress Bell is making in improving customer experience is the most recent annual report from Canada’s Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS). For the fifth consecutive year, Bell led all major competitors in significantly reducing the number of customer service complaints to the CCTS.
Supporting our team
With as many as 80% of our team members working from home during COVID-19, and those in our stores and other workplaces adhering to strict safety protocols and government restrictions, it has not been business as usual.
In line with our COVID-19 operating principles, Bell provided our team with the tools necessary to adjust to changes in the way we work, and we enhanced support services with dedicated mental health and wellness resources, increased psychological care benefits, and mobile access to our Employee and Family Assistance Program, as well as online learning and collaboration resources.
Consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top employers, Bell continues to adopt new best practices to empower our team and ensure we are as agile, efficient and productive as possible – including making significant strides in promoting diversity and inclusion in our workplaces and communities.
Accelerating our momentum
We’re taking our commitment to lead the way in Canadian communications further still with an unprecedented acceleration in our capital spending of an additional $1 billion to $1.2 billion over the next 2 years to enhance our fibre, rural and 5G network rollout plans. A supplement to the approximately $4 billion in capital we typically invest in networks each year, the project is the largest of its kind in Bell’s history, and will bring fast fibre and WHI coverage to up to 400,000 more homes and businesses than originally planned while also doubling the national population coverage of Bell 5G.
This investment plan is an excellent example of Bell’s focus on supporting Canada’s response to and recovery from COVID-19 as we also lay the groundwork for our country’s long-range leadership in next-generation.
Bell is a Canadian company with a celebrated past and a bright future, and the shareholders who have invested in our company’s vision have always been critical to making it all possible. On behalf of the entire Bell team, I thank you for your ongoing support as we move forward with our goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world.