Bell Canada invests $637M to bring FTTP services to 1.1M homes, businesses

Bell Canada HQ in Montreal, Quebec
As part of its latest network expansion, Bell will install over 7,000 km of new fiber and upgrade 25 central offices across Montreal, Canada.

Bell Canada is on the fiber to the premises (FTTP) growth path again, announcing a $637 million plan to bring fiber-based broadband services to 1.1 million additional homes and businesses throughout Montreal.

As part of this latest network expansion, Bell will install over 7,000 km of new fiber and upgrade 25 central offices (COs) across Montreal.

Helping Bell accelerate the fiber build is the fact that it can leverage the existing utility poles where it has already installed conduit for fiber and copper. The company said that over 90% of its network in Quebec has been built on aerial utility poles, meaning it can avoid having to dig up streets to lay fiber.

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In managing the deployment with the city, Bell is partnering with Montreal's 3-1-1 information service to answer questions from residents about the project, and updates on service availability can be found at Bell.ca/Mtl.

The investment is fully funded by Bell. To complete the project, Bell is partnering with a large number of local suppliers, including Asplundh, Effigis Geo-Solutions, G-Tek, Infrastructel, Telecon, TCI and TRJ Telecom.

In February, the City of Montréal announced the development of a central point of contact for public utility companies: Telecommunications, cable, electricity and natural gas. By having this single contact point, the city said it hopes to improve the management and integration of all partners' work in order to minimize disturbance to local residents.

This latest planned buildout in Montreal is just one of several areas of Quebec, which includes Quebec City, where Bell is expanding its FTTP footprint. By the end of the year, Bell’s FTTP product will reach about 40% of homes and businesses throughout Quebec.

While the initial service can deliver up to 1 Gbps, Bell indicated that it will enable future internet access speeds of up to 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps.

George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, said during its fourth quarter earnings call that it its FTTP expansion plans are on track.

“We will continue to add fiber to the premises footprint,” Cope said during the fourth earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “We expect that to end 2017 at about 3.5 million of our 8.4 million fiber locations, the remaining being [fiber-to-the-node] FTTN.”  

Cope added that the service provider plans to continue rolling out FTTP services to more locations throughout much of the next decade.

“I think investors would expect from us 600,000 to 700,000 premises covered with fiber almost every year over the next 7 to 8 years,” Cope said. “We don't see a slowing down in the other markets at all.”