Telus reports net income growth, CFO says it will announce 5G vendor 'when we are ready'

Shruti Shekar
Telecom & Tech Reporter

Vancouver-based carrier Telus reported a three per cent net income growth in Q4 2019 totalling $379 million, or 61 cents per share. 

In its earnings report that was released on February 13, the carrier reported 2.5 per cent year-over-year operating revenue growth totalling $3.85 billion. 

In the quarter, the carrier added 130,000 wireless subscribers.

Telus’ CFO Doug French said in a phone interview that the carrier does not reveal a breakdown of customer adoption of its unlimited data plans but said “the quality of our loading is second to none.”

“We are very happy with our with the penetration of customers taking the ‘Peace of Mind’ plans,” he said. “We’ve seen a nice mix to the higher quality Telus brand versus flanker brands in the quarter.”

The carrier launched new unlimited data plans in summer 2019.

Rogers reported that it has 1.4 million subscribers to its unlimited plans. Telus, like Bell, does not report its adoption rate.

On Average Billing Per User, Telus reported $72.79, which was down one per cent. 

“The slight decrease reflects declines in chargeable usage, the impact of the competitive environment putting pressure on base rate plan prices in the current and prior periods, and the previously mentioned impact to wholesale roaming revenue,” Telus said. 

On Average Revenue Per User, the carrier reported $59.29, a decrease of 1.7 per cent. 

Telus’ monthly subscriber churn rate, the measure of subscribers who deactivate their service, was “below one per cent for [the] sixth consecutive year.”

The very slight decline reflects “heightened competitive intensity during the seasonal promotional period,” Telus said. 

Telus also announced a two-for-one share split to shareholders that will take effect on March 13. This will be the company’s second share split since 2013.

Telus said the split “will enhance our trading liquidity” and “improve the affordability of our share for smaller retail investors.”

Telus will announce 5G “when we are ready”: French

Telus did not reveal in its earnings which vendor it will use to roll out 5G services in the country. 

Bell said in Q4 earnings that its “first” vendor was Nokia, while Rogers’ vendor is Ericsson. 

The federal government is still reviewing whether or not to allow Huawei’s participation in the rollout of the next generation of wireless networks. Telus’ non-core infrastructure is entirely made up of Huawei equipment, but the core which is not Huawei, is where the most vulnerable information exists.

French said the company was not going to “pre-announce our launch plans” for 5G.

“We’re really going to focus on getting it right. With not having 3.5 [GHz] spectrum until later in the year, our speeds, irrespective of when we launch 5G in 2020, will still be top-notch or even faster,” he said.

“We will have an announcement on our 5G rollout when we are ready, which will still be in 2020.”

French confirmed that Telus will still be able to launch in time to compete with other carriers.

In a separate email, French confirmed that the carrier would be rolling out 5G network “shortly.”

“Our initial module will be with Huawei. Our 5G [request for proposal] process is underway and we continue to explore supplier diversification,” he said, adding that the company will “continue to collaborate” with the government regardless of what the decision on Huawei will be.

Telus clarified that its initial module refers to the “first phase of the 5G rollout.”

The carrier expects to do a full rollout once more information is made about the 3500 MHz auction.