Telus reports 21,000 mobile phone net additions in Q1, defers 2020 guidance due to COVID-19


Vancouver-based national carrier Telus had 21,000 mobile phone net additions in Q1 2020, which is an increase from the 11,000 reported in Q1 2019.

According to its earning report released on May 7th, this increase was driven by lower mobile phone churn.

Telus added a total of 119,000 new wireless, internet, TV and security customers in the quarter. This includes the 21,000 mobile phone net additions, along with 49,000 mobile connected devices, 26,000 internet, 8,000 TV and 15,000 security customers.

For context, connected devices are any device other than a mobile phone with its own SIM or IMEI number. These data-centric devices include tablets, internet keys, Internet of Things, wearables, and connected automobile systems.

Further, the carrier’s “wireless subscriber base of more than 10 million is up 5.6 percent over the last twelve months, reflecting a 2.6 percent increase in our mobile phones subscriber base to 8.7 million and a 25 percent increase to our mobile connected devices subscriber base to nearly 1.6 million.”

Telus is also deferring an update to its 2020 financial guidance to the second quarter of the year due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our robust and consistent performance over the longer-term, coupled with our strong financial position, positions us well to navigate the uncertainty caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for anticipated post-pandemic economic challenges and market opportunities,” Telus CEO Darren Entwistle stated in the report.

The carrier’s mobile churn rate in the quarter was 0.94 percent, as compared to the 1.02 percent in Q1 2019. Telus says the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in less switching activity between carriers in the last two weeks of March.

Telus’ mobile phone ABPU (average billing per unit) was $72.30 in Q1 2020, which is a 0.2 percent increase from the same period a year ago. The carrier says the increase reflects growth results from its combined Telus Easy Payment device financing, Peace of Mind endless data plans and Telus Family Discount offerings.

Its mobile phone ARPU (average revenue per unit) for the quarter was $58.60, which is a decrease of 1.2 percent from Q1 2019.

“The decline in mobile phone ARPU was partly driven by the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in March, such as lower roaming revenue from changing customer behaviour related to travel restrictions and our decision to temporarily waive roaming charges,” the report states.

For the quarter, Telus’ net income of $353 million decreased by 19 percent over the same period last year when it was $437 million.

“External wireless operating revenue decreased by $40 million or 2.1 percent, as network revenue growth of 1.3 percent was offset by a 12 percent decrease to equipment and other service revenues,” the report notes.

Further, network revenue increased by $19 million, reflecting a growth of 5.6 percent in the subscriber base over the last 12 months.

Telus notes that it is proactively managing record-high traffic levels, most notably across voice and video calling, messaging, TV viewership and home Wi-Fi.

“Our team’s efforts to sustain our networks during the pandemic is tantamount to supporting Super Bowl-level traffic, every day,” Entwistle stated in the report.