Canada's Bell responds to regulatory changes on infrastructure by accelerating investment plans
May 31, 2021
MONTRÉAL, May 31, 2021 - Bell today announced that its accelerated capital investment plan announced earlier this year will now increase by up to $1.7 billion, or as much as $500 million more, in response to the support for infrastructure investment reflected in recent federal regulatory and policy decisions.
This $1.7 billion in accelerated Bell investment for 2021 and 2022 is in addition to the approximately $4 billion in capital that Bell has typically invested each year in network expansion over the last decade. With an additional $200 million also invested in capacity and coverage in 2020 to respond to the unprecedented usage demands of the COVID crisis, Bell's total capital investment from 2020-2022 will be as high as $14 billion.
"Since 1880, the Bell team has ensured Canadians have the critical network infrastructure necessary to build a prosperous society and a sustainable economy, and we're accelerating our commitment as we all look forward to our country's future beyond COVID-19," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "The unprecedented impacts of the crisis have necessitated a bold response from all stakeholders in Canada's economy, and Bell responded with the largest capital acceleration project in our company's 141-year history. Now, with greater regulatory stability fostering an improved investment climate, Bell is proud to take our plan even further by growing our investment to advance how Canadians in communities large and small connect with each other and the world."
Bell's accelerated capital investment plan announced in February 2021 originally consisted of $1 billion to $1.2 billion in additional network funding to help drive Canada's recovery from the COVID crisis. With the CRTC's recent decision and ongoing government policy support for facilities-based competition and investment, Bell has now increased the amount of accelerated funding to $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. This investment will significantly increase the number of wireline and wireless connections in Canada's rural and urban centres alike over the next 2 years, including significantly expanded plans for all-fibre connections, while creating additional employment as network construction activity speeds up.
"The policy approach of the federal government and the CRTC is an expression of confidence in our country's future and the importance of network investment to ensure consumers and businesses have access to next-generation communications services in a digital economy. We expect communications providers of all kinds to also step up with investments and innovations of their own to drive competition and deliver outstanding value to Canadians nationwide," said Mr. Bibic. "World-leading network investment by Canada's communications providers has played a key role in seeing the country through COVID-19 and laying the foundation for recovery. The Bell team is proud to have been here to support our customers and communities through the challenges of the past year and excited by what the future has in store."
With 5G coverage now at approximately 35% of the Canadian population, Bell recently announced the expansion of Canada's fastest-ranked and most-awarded 5G network to a further 23 cities and towns in Québec, Ontario and Manitoba, on track to reach up to 70% national 5G coverage this year.
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