Bell Aliant's 19,000 FibreOP gains ease local, LD pains

Bell Aliant continued on its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) expansion path, adding 19,000 new FibreOP customers during the quarter, bringing total FibreOP Internet customers to approximately 236,000 at the end of September 2014.  

FibreOP Internet additions include a mix of existing Bell Aliant customers migrating from DSL and fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) network to the fiber-based service. Bell Aliant said that while these migrations don't contribute to overall high-speed customer growth, they do contribute to improved customer retention and growth in average revenue per customer (ARPU).

Overall broadband Internet subscriber net additions were 14,700 in the quarter, up from 11,600 in the same period a year ago, bringing total broadband customers to 991,700 at the end of September.

Another bright spot in the next-gen wireline portfolio was IPTV, where revenue rose 35.9 percent, or $10.6 million, from the same quarter a year ago. During the quarter, Bell Aliant added 14,300 new FibreOP TV customers to reach about 200,000, part of which included customers migrating from Bell Aliant's FTTN TV service. Overall net IPTV customer additions were 12,900 in the third quarter of 2014, compared to 14,500 a year earlier. 

Finally, other data revenues rose $3.5 million, or 4 percent year-over-year, due to higher data product sales.

However, local service and long-distance voice revenues declined $9.7 million and $7.1 million, respectively, in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, driven largely by network access services (NAS) declines of 5.4 percent. The service provider said that "NAS declines were essentially flat to the same quarter in 2013."

The telco's overall operating revenues were $617 million, up $2.65 million, or 0.5 percent, from the same quarter a year ago. As seen in earlier quarters, Internet, TV, other data, and wireless revenues were partially offset by declines in local, long distance, and other revenues. However, third-quarter 2014 operating expenses rose $6.2 million from the same quarter in 2013, driven by growth in promotional and TV content costs from a growing FibreOP customer base and storm-related costs, which were partially offset by savings from productivity initiatives.

The third quarter was a time of transition for Bell Aliant.

In early October, Bell Aliant's parent company BCE completed the acquisition of the remaining shares in the company. This was part of a plan announced in July to acquire all of the issued and outstanding Bell Aliant Inc. common shares that it did not already own through a common share tender offer for about $3.7 billion.

As the telco completes its privatization, Bell Aliant's CEO Karen Sheriff announced in September that she would retire from the company at the end of the year as the company becomes integrated into its parent company Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE).

For more:
- see the earnings release

Special report: Wireline telecom earnings in the third quarter of 2014

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