Stepping up for customers and communities
For Bell, customers are at the centre of everything we do. Attracting, winning and retaining customers is essential to achieving our purpose: to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world.
Bell is Canada’s leading communications company, and as the COVID-19 pandemic continued throughout 2021, we moved forward with initiatives to better connect, inform and entertain Canadians while also investing to support Canada’s pandemic recovery and future growth.
Guided by six purpose-driven strategic imperatives – build the best networks; drive growth with innovative services; deliver the most compelling content; champion customer experience; operate with agility and cost efficiency; and engage and invest in our people and create a sustainable future – Bell is better positioned than ever to drive positive change forward.
Accelerating investments in networks and driving innovation
To help Canadians and our business recover from COVID‑19 and grow well into the future, Bell increased our investments to historic levels as part of a two-year acceleration launched in 2021. Enabled by our solid financial position and a stable policy and regulatory environment, we spent an unprecedented $4.8 billion in capital expenditures for fibre, 5G and rural broadband deployments, expanding the availability of better broadband to 7.2 million homes and businesses in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Québec and Manitoba. This includes meeting our target of reaching 1 million homes and businesses in hundreds of rural communities with our Wireless Home Internet service a full year ahead of schedule.
Our ongoing fibre expansion provides more Canadians with access to the world’s best Internet technology, supporting remote work and online learning as well as providing the advanced connectivity that businesses, organizations and communities need. Deploying more pure fibre connections in urban and rural communities alike also expands the availability of our innovative Fibe TV and other digital services, and in 2021, we added Internet subscribers at levels not seen in several years, supporting our plan to accelerate fibre deployments even more aggressively in 2022.
We are equally committed to driving investment in wireless services. Accelerating investments in our 5G network, the most awarded in Canada, also ensures more of our customers can access wireless services that are among the best in the world. Now reaching more than 70% of the national population, the fast speed of Bell 5G connections is set to become even faster and their latency lower as we increase coverage and deploy newly-acquired 3500 MHz spectrum in 2022.
Overall, our accelerated investments mean that innovative applications and solutions for customers that rely on converged fibre and 5G networks are becoming more widely available. This includes TSN 5G View / Vision 5G RDS launched in 2021, as well as new services for Canadian businesses, such as Smart Supply Chain powered by Bell IoT Smart Connect. We have also entered into partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and others that will expand the use of multi-access edge computing (MEC) and other next-generation technologies.
Championing customer experience
Making it easier for customers to do business with Bell, we continue to develop self-serve tools like our award-winning MyBell, Virgin Plus and Lucky Mobile My Account apps. At the same time, we are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to enhance how the Bell team works with customers and expand the availability of innovative services like Move Valet, Self Install and, new in 2021, Virtual Repair.
Every initiative continues to drive better customer service experiences. According to the 2020‑2021 annual report from Canada’s Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), we led the industry for a sixth consecutive year in significantly reducing customer complaints. In fact, Bell had a decline of 8% overall while complaints across the industry saw an increase of 9%.
Creating and delivering compelling content for Canadians
Increasingly competing with large global content providers, Bell Media remains focused on creating and delivering content that reflects the communities we serve. With new and award-winning original series, documentaries and Canada’s top‑rated national and local news programs, CTV, CTV News, TSN and RDS continued to be top choices for Canadians in 2021. In addition, our entertainment specialty channels CTV Comedy, Discovery and CTV Drama ranked as the top three this past broadcast year for the first time.
Our Noovo network also emerged as a much-welcomed competitive alternative for customers in Québec as we continue to reinforce our commitment to deliver great content across all genres for French-language audiences. Building on the popularity of our on-demand digital services and apps – including ctv.ca, noovo.ca, Crave, TSN Direct and RDS Direct, and iHeartRadio – we also launched the ad‑supported NoovoMoi.ca video platform in 2021 and, more recently, the noovo.info news service.
Investing in our team
Facing many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell team members remain as engaged as ever in helping move our business forward, embracing new ways of working while continuing to improve customer experiences and provide the critical connectivity, support and information that our customers need.
In 2021, we continued to provide opportunities for our team members to develop and apply skills needed to succeed. We also expanded mental health support and fostered a more inclusive and accessible workplace, strengthening a culture that reflects values we share with the communities we serve.
By investing in our people, we continue to build on a legacy that has been a key to Bell’s success for 142 years – an ability to help Canadians recover from crises and become stronger than before. Moving forward with leading ESG initiatives and Bell for Better commitments, we are all helping to create a thriving, prosperous and more connected world. On behalf of the entire Bell team, I thank all of our shareholders for your ongoing support as we continue to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world.