Bell extends 5G leadership with additional high-value 3500 MHz wireless spectrum
- Bell secures prime 3500 MHz spectrum in urban and rural markets across the country
- Acquiring 678M MHz-POP in auction for $2.07 billion
- Brings total holdings to 1,690M MHz-POP, or 37% of 3500 MHz spectrum available to national wireless carriers, acquired at industry-leading average blended cost of $1.25 per MHz-POP
- Ongoing 5G leadership a key driver of Bell's multibillion-dollar network investment acceleration supporting Canada's COVID recovery and ongoing economic prosperity
MONTRÉAL, July 29, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell today announced it is acquiring significant additional mid-band, flexible-use 3500 MHz wireless spectrum in the recently concluded auction by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Essential to Canada's ongoing transition to 5G communications, these high-capacity airwaves unleash the full potential of Bell's 5G advantage, extending Bell's leadership in delivering enhanced 5G digital experiences to Canadian consumers and businesses in urban, rural and remote communities.
Bell is acquiring 271 licences for 678M MHz-POP of 3500 MHz spectrum – critical to enabling the full potential of 5G – for $2.07 billion. Together with existing holdings, Bell now possesses 1,690M MHz-POP, or 37% of this high-value spectrum available to national wireless carriers, acquired at an industry-leading average blended cost of $1.25 per MHz-POP, in line with Bell's network leadership objectives and the expectations of the financial community.
"Underscoring the Bell team's goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, acquiring this significant additional 3500 MHz spectrum will drive Bell's ongoing leadership in 5G, a critical component in our multibillion-dollar program to accelerate investment in Canada's next-generation network infrastructure and services," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. "Leading the way in 5G is a great reflection of the Bell for Better initiative and our focus on delivering the economic, social and environmental benefits of broadband network leadership to Canadians everywhere."
Launched in major centres across Canada last year and now first to offer 5G roaming in the US, Bell 5G is ranked by multiple analysts as Canada's fastest mobile network (most recently by Ookla in its 2021 Speedtest Awards). Bell 5G is currently available to approximately 35% of the national population, and is expected to reach 70% by the end of 2021. Bell's Wireless Home Internet (WHI) service is bringing broadband Internet access to small towns and rural locations in Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario and Manitoba, and will also be enhanced with 5G capability later this year.
Bell is acquiring 30% of total 3500 MHz spectrum available to national wireless carriers at auction, including spectrum in major and secondary urban markets across the country, which, together with existing holdings, secures all the 3500 MHz spectrum necessary for Bell to continue leading the roll out of 5G across Canada. This includes 52% of available spectrum in WHI rural markets.
"With our strong 3500 MHz spectrum position, we're ready to take the country's top-ranked 5G service even further, leveraging the full capabilities of the technology to help bridge the digital divide with enhanced broadband access for more rural and remote communities," said Stephen Howe, Bell's Chief Technology Officer. "The speed and capacity of 5G, coupled with Bell's unparalleled fibre backhaul infrastructure and rapidly expanding network footprints, offers infinite service possibilities for consumers and business users, from augmented reality and machine learning to smart homes, vehicles and cities, and we're eager to deliver these benefits to Canadians no matter where they may live."
Bell's accelerated infrastructure investment
Enabled by government and regulatory policies encouraging significant investment in Canada's critical infrastructure, Bell's network acceleration program increases capital investment in 5G, fibre and rural network infrastructure by up to $1.7 billion over 2 years – in addition to the $4 billion Bell typically invests each year in network expansion and enhancement. With increased spending on network capacity in 2020 to manage the extraordinary usage increases during the COVID crisis, capital investment by Bell from 2020-2022 will total approximately $14 billion, representing the company's largest infrastructure investment program in its 141-year history.
The Bell 5G advantage
5G capitalizes on the power of both wireless and fibre communications, and with 94% of Bell's cell sites connected to its fibre network, Bell 5G leads in providing the low latency critical to real-time applications ranging from remote surgery to ultra-HD video. With over 2,700 network locations across the country, Bell has more network points of presence than any other carrier in Canada, a key enabler for multi-access edge computing (MEC) that brings the computing power, processing and storage potential of 5G closer to developers and end users. Bell recently announced a MEC agreement with Amazon Web Services and a strategic technology partnership with Google Cloud to deliver enhanced digital experiences for Canadians that take full advantage of Bell 5G's speed, latency and bandwidth benefits, empowering Bell to take a leading share in 5G services.
Bell also leads the industry in research and development, including projects under way with Université de Sherbrooke and Western University to develop new 5G consumer and business services. 5G delivers important environmental benefits, with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association estimating 5G technology can support 1000x the data traffic at half of current energy consumption over the next decade. These sustainability advantages are a prominent part of Bell's plan to achieve carbon neutral operations in 2025.
Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing advanced broadband wireless, TV, Internet media and business communication services throughout the country. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.
Through Bell for Better, we are investing to create a better today and a better tomorrow by supporting the social and economic prosperity of our communities with a commitment to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. This includes the Bell Let's Talk initiative, which promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let's Talk Day and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research and workplace leadership initiatives throughout the country. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.
Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this news release are forward-looking statements, including statements relating to our network deployment and capital investment plans as well as the benefits expected to result therefrom, including our two-year increased capital investment program to increase capital investment in 5G, fibre and rural network infrastructure, the benefits expected to result from the acquisition of 3500 MHz spectrum licenses, our plan to achieve carbon neutral operations in 2025, 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 harbor" 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 investments 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