As broadband and online communications became more important to Canadians than ever in 2020, Bell ramped up our industry-leading investments in advanced network technologies and innovative digital services, dedicating more resources to meeting the needs of customers and enhancing online service, sales and support capabilities and providing more resources to champion the customer experience.
WHY IT MATTERS
Canada’s communications market is more dynamic and competitive than ever. In this environment, making it easier for customers to do business with Bell is critical to our success, and our rapid response to changing customer needs reflects our commitment to championing the customer experience, a key Strategic Imperative. Delivering top customer experiences also reduces the cost of doing business in line with another of our Strategic Imperatives – operate with agility and cost efficiency – and supports our efforts to retain and grow the number of customers we serve. It also helps encourage and inspire the Bell team, in step with our focus on engagement and investment in our people (our 6th Strategic Imperative).
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Bell is focused on bringing the best digital connections and next-generation services to Canadians, and the customer experience is at the centre of everything we do. We continue to improve online services, sales and support and provide additional resources for our service teams to deliver faster and more efficient customer experiences, making it easier for customers to do business with Bell.
By continually improving the customer experience and investing in leading broadband, wireless, TV, content and business service innovations, Bell is attracting a growing number of customers. At the end of 2020, Bell had more than 22.3 million total consumer, business, and wholesale customer connections across our full range of services, including over 10 million wireless subscribers, 3.7 million retail high-speed Internet subscribers, and 2.7 million retail TV subscribers1Footnote: For information on electronic billing, see our Electronic billing information sheet under Key documents
Building the best networks
Investing more than any other Canadian communications company in advanced networks and innovative services, Bell increased capital expenditures to approximately $4.2 billion in 2020, increasing network capacity – ensuring 99.99%+ network reliability as demand stepped up during the pandemic – and supporting new fibre, Wireless Home Internet, and 5G wireless deployments. (For more on the economic impacts of these investments, please see the Economy section).
In 2020, Bell launched new all-fibre network builds that will deliver Internet total download access speeds of up to 1.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) – Canada’s fastest – for residents and businesses in Hamilton, Ontario, and throughout Winnipeg, Manitoba. New fibre builds are also underway in smaller communities in Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario and Manitoba, and major deployments are continuing on the Island of Montréal and in the Greater Toronto Area. In Canada’s north, Bell subsidiary Northwestel Inc. (Northwestel) began offering fibre-to-the-home in Hay River, Northwest Territories, making it Canada’s first fibre community north of the 60th parallel, and Northwestel also began deploying all-fibre connections to every home in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, making it Canada’s first fibre community in the Arctic Circle.
Bell accelerated rollouts of Wireless Home Internet (WHI) in rural areas of Ontario and Québec in direct response to the pandemic, improved download speeds to up to 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) and began deploying the service in Atlantic Canada. Bell also plans to deploy WHI in Manitoba in 2021.
Today, Bell direct fibre and Wireless Home Internet broadband connections reach over 6 million customer locations combined in major urban centres and rural communities. We also expect to reach approximately 6.9 million homes and businesses by the end of 2021 as the direct result of our capital investment acceleration plan, announced in early 2021, of an additional $1 billion to 1.2 billion dollars over the next 2 years, – to deliver more fibre, Wireless Home Internet and 5G wireless connections.
Bell’s ongoing investments in wireless speed, coverage and quality are also enhancing the customer experience in urban and rural areas across the country. With Bell LTE already available to 99% of Canadians, Bell launched 5G in mid-2020 in major urban centres. By the end of 2020, Bell’s new 5G network – Canada’s fastest – was available to approximately 26% of Canadians, and we expect to reach approximately 70% by the end of 2021.
In addition to fully funding our new network builds, Bell continues working with all levels of government and other partners to deploy better broadband to smaller towns and rural locations. This includes a project led by Northwestel and supported by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Broadband Fund that will deliver faster Internet to residents of Yukon and the Northwest Territories as well as other provincial and federal programs.
Customer experience keeps getting better
Along with delivering award-winning fibre and wireless networks, at Bell we continue to focus on making it easier and more convenient than ever for customers to do business with us by improving online services and providing a greater range of sales and support options from which customers can choose.
Continuing to build on our MyBell.ca platform, award-winning MyBell app and our popular Manage My Appointment web service for visits by our Field technicians, in 2020 we accelerated the development and use of new online sales and support capabilities to further enhance the Bell customer service experience and better meet new health and safety requirements due to COVID-19. For example, in addition to continuing to offer professional installation for Bell services, we launched new customer self install options for Internet, Fibe TV and home phone. We also quickly developed and launched our new Assisted Self-Installation and Repair service, enabling technicians to perform work outside of the home or business and remotely guide customers through any work required inside. We also initiated a new appointment-based system at our retail locations to help protect the health and safety of our team members and customers.
We also launched Move Valet in 2020, a new service that helps customers seamlessly transfer their Bell Internet, TV and home phone services from one residential address to another. Supported by a team of Bell Customer Experience specialists, Move Valet centralizes interactions previously handled by multiple teams into a single and more convenient point of contact within the group.
An important indicator of the progress Bell is making on the customer experience, is the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS)'s finding in its latest mid-year report that Bell delivered the greatest reduction in consumer complaints among all national providers for the 6th year in a row. Covering the period from August 2020 to January 2021, the latest CCTS report reflects Bell’s outstanding customer response during COVID-19. A 2020 secret shopper report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also found that Bell was the industry leader in providing clear and easy-to-understand information, as well as service that aligns with customer needs.
Continuing another long-term trend in the right direction, Virgin Mobile Canada placed #1 for overall customer care satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Wireless Customer Care Study for the 4th consecutive year, and best in overall satisfaction in the J.D. Power 2020 Wireless Purchase Experience Study.