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BCE Inc. CEO confident company can handle network disruptions when they arise

The head of BCE Inc. looked to assure investors Thursday that the company's network is designed to avoid the kind of mass outage that recently hit Rogers Communications Inc.
BCE Inc. saw its profit slip in the second quarter as revenue grew. Bell Canada head office is seen on Nun's Island, Wednesday, August 5, 2015, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The head of BCE Inc. looked to assure investors Thursday that the company's network is designed to avoid the kind of mass outage that recently hit Rogers Communications Inc.

"Bell’s wireless and wireline networks use different network infrastructures, and are configured such that a major disruption on the wireline network does not take down the national wireless network," said chief executive Mirko Bibic on an analyst conference call.

While he acknowledged that no network is completely immune to outages, he said "architecture clearly does make a difference."

"In the event of a localized outage, we have built an automated customer notification system starting first in Quebec and then Ontario," he added.

His comments come nearly a month after the Rogers network outage hit both wireless and wireline networks and affected millions of customers across Canada.

Just days after the incident, the federal industry minister met with Canada's big telecom companies and gave them 60 days to come up with a resiliency plan to mitigate the impact of future outages and other emergency scenarios, including agreements on emergency roaming, a mutual assistance framework during outages and a communication protocol to better inform the public and authorities during telecom emergencies.

BCE reported Thursday that its profit slipped in the second quarter as revenue grew.

The company's second quarter results showed its profit attributable to common shareholders totalled $596 million or 66 cents per share for the quarter ended June 30, down from $685 million or 76 cents per share a year earlier.

Operating revenue totalled $5.86 billion, up from $5.70 billion in the same period last year.

On an adjusted basis, the telecom giant said it earned 87 cents per share, up from an adjusted profit of 83 cents per share a year earlier.

Wireless revenue rose to $2.24 billion compared with $2.13 billion a year ago, while wireline revenue dropped to $2.99 billion from $3 billion. Bell Media revenue totalled $821 million, up from $755 million in the same quarter last year.

The company said it continues to see momentum in its wireless business, with 110,761 mobile phone net subscriber activations in the second quarter. Retail internet net activations were also up 27.9 per cent.

Desjardins analyst Jerome Dubreuil said in a note to clients that "the wireless environment could continue to be favourable for incumbents in the coming months, pending the (Shaw Communications Inc.) takeover."

On the call, the company also noted that the current inflationary environment has been quite manageable and hasn't caused any material issues. It said it hasn't seen much change in customer payment patterns, with no related increases in bad debts and no extended payment terms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug.4, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B)

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press

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