Bell's biggest-ever network acceleration plan gets bigger with additional investment now up to $1.7 billion over the next 2 years
- Greater regulatory certainty and positive investment climate supports increased capital investment in Canada's network infrastructure, including expanded fibre rollouts
- Builds on Bell's historic plan announced earlier this year to invest in Canada's COVID-19 recovery, growing employment and the country's leadership in broadband communications
- With additional network investment in 2020 to manage unprecedented usage increases during the COVID crisis, Bell's 2020-2022 capital investment program will reach up to approximately $14 billion – almost $2 billion more than originally planned
MONTRÉAL, May 31, 2021 /CNW/ - Bell today announced that its accelerated capital investment plan announced earlier this year will now increase by up to $1.7 billion, or as much as $500 million more, in response to the support for infrastructure investment reflected in recent federal regulatory and policy decisions.
This $1.7 billion in accelerated Bell investment for 2021 and 2022 is in addition to the approximately $4 billion in capital that Bell has typically invested each year in network expansion over the last decade. With an additional $200 million also invested in capacity and coverage in 2020 to respond to the unprecedented usage demands of the COVID crisis, Bell's total capital investment from 2020-2022 will be as high as $14 billion.
"Since 1880, the Bell team has ensured Canadians have the critical network infrastructure necessary to build a prosperous society and a sustainable economy, and we're accelerating our commitment as we all look forward to our country's future beyond COVID-19," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "The unprecedented impacts of the crisis have necessitated a bold response from all stakeholders in Canada's economy, and Bell responded with the largest capital acceleration project in our company's 141-year history. Now, with greater regulatory stability fostering an improved investment climate, Bell is proud to take our plan even further by growing our investment to advance how Canadians in communities large and small connect with each other and the world."
Bell's accelerated capital investment plan announced in February 2021 originally consisted of $1 billion to $1.2 billion in additional network funding to help drive Canada's recovery from the COVID crisis. With the CRTC's recent decision and ongoing government policy support for facilities-based competition and investment, Bell has now increased the amount of accelerated funding to $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. This investment will significantly increase the number of wireline and wireless connections in Canada's rural and urban centres alike over the next 2 years, including significantly expanded plans for all-fibre connections, while creating additional employment as network construction activity speeds up.
"The policy approach of the federal government and the CRTC is an expression of confidence in our country's future and the importance of network investment to ensure consumers and businesses have access to next-generation communications services in a digital economy. We expect communications providers of all kinds to also step up with investments and innovations of their own to drive competition and deliver outstanding value to Canadians nationwide," said Mr. Bibic. "World-leading network investment by Canada's communications providers has played a key role in seeing the country through COVID-19 and laying the foundation for recovery. The Bell team is proud to have been here to support our customers and communities through the challenges of the past year and excited by what the future has in store."
With 5G coverage now at approximately 35% of the Canadian population, Bell recently announced the expansion of Canada's fastest-ranked and most-awarded 5G network to a further 23 cities and towns in Québec, Ontario and Manitoba, on track to reach up to 70% national 5G coverage this year.
The Bell team builds world-leading broadband wireless and fibre networks, provides innovative mobile, TV, Internet and business communications services and delivers the most compelling content with premier television, radio, out of home and digital media brands. With a goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, Bell serves more than 22 million consumer and business customer connections across every province and territory. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.
Bell supports the social and economic prosperity of our communities with a commitment to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We measure our progress in increasing environmental sustainability, achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace, leading data governance and protection, and building stronger and healthier communities. This includes confronting the challenge of mental illness with the Bell Let's Talk initiative, which drives mental health awareness and action with programs like the annual Bell Let's Talk Day and Bell funding for community care, research and workplace programs nationwide all year round.
Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this news release are forward-looking statements, including statements relating to our anticipated capital expenditures and the benefits expected to result therefrom, including our two-year increased capital investment program to accelerate broadband network and 5G footprint expansion, our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities, and other statements that are not historical facts. All such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the "safe harbour" provisions of applicable Canadian securities laws and of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on several assumptions which give rise to the possibility that actual results or events could differ materially from our expectations. These statements are not guarantees of future performance or events, and we caution you against relying on any of these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as may be required by applicable securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Our capital investment and network deployment plans and the benefits expected to result therefrom are subject to risks and, accordingly, there can be no assurance that our capital investment and network deployment plans will be completed or that the benefits expected to result therefrom will be realized. The value of the planned investment assumes our ability to access or generate the necessary sources of capital. However, there can be no certainty that the required sources of capital will be available with the result that the actual investment made by us could materially differ from current expectations. For additional information on assumptions and risks underlying certain of our forward-looking statements made in this news release, please consult BCE Inc.'s (BCE) 2020 Annual MD&A dated March 4, 2021, BCE's 2021 First Quarter MD&A dated April 28, 2021 and BCE's news release dated April 29, 2021 announcing its financial results for the first quarter of 2021, filed by BCE with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities (available at Sedar.com) and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (available at SEC.gov). These documents are also available at BCE.ca.
SOURCE Bell Canada