|Traded as||TSX: BA|
|Headquarters||Atlantic Canada (Under new management by Bell)|
|Key people||Karen Sheriff (President and CEO)|
|Products||Fixed line, Fixed Broadband, IPTV|
|Operating income||$2.1 billion CAD (2005)|
|Net income||>$212 million|
|Total assets||$4.1 billion|
|Parent||Bell Canada (44% and managing shareholder; full purchase pending)|
Bell Aliant Inc. is a communications company providing services in various areas throughout eastern Canada, as Bell Aliant throughout Atlantic Canada, and under the NorthernTel, and Télébec brands in rural areas of Ontario and Quebec; respectively.
Bell Canada, which has been the largest shareholder in the company (and most of its predecessors) throughout its history, presently owns about 44% of the group and exercises management control. In July 2014, Bell Canada announced plans to take full ownership of Bell Aliant, but indicated that the Bell Aliant brand name will continue to be used in Atlantic Canada.
The current firm is the successor to Aliant Inc., formed from the 1999 merger of Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company (MT&T), Island Telecom (which had been majority-owned by MT&T), Bruncor (parent of NBTel), and NewTel Enterprises (parent of NewTel Communications), then the four main incumbent telephone companies in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador respectively. Bell Canada was the largest shareholder of MT&T, Bruncor, and NewTel prior to the merger, and received a 53% stake in the merged company, Aliant. At the time that Aliant Inc. was being formed, the executives of the four merging companies agreed to a co-operative management strategy which would see no specific province have a Bell Aliant head office; instead the headquarters functions would be spread across its constituent companies.
On March 7, 2006, Bell and Aliant announced plans to merge Aliant's operations into those of Bell. Specifically, Aliant's "high growth" wireless and retail (DownEast) networks would be folded into Bell's wholly owned Bell Mobility and Bell World operations, respectively. Aliant, under a new income trust structure, would acquire Bell's "regional" landline operations (i.e. outside of major city centres) in Ontario and Quebec. This created the significant challenges involved with merging English-speaking operations with French-speaking operations. The transaction was completed on July 7, 2006, and saw the appointment of Stephen Wetmore, formerly of Bell, as President and CEO. Bell Canada retained 45% of the restructured Aliant. Fund units representing about 28.5% of Bell Aliant were distributed to shareholders of Bell's parent company, BCE. Shareholders of the former Aliant Inc. received units representing 26.5% of the firm. (The company would convert back to a regular corporation at the end of 2010.)
The purpose was to separate out the more stable (or low-growth) parts of Bell's holdings, i.e. wireline operations in markets with relatively little competition, to satisfy investors. The restructuring was not expected to have any effect on end consumers in terms of existing pricing or bundling practices. Meanwhile, Bell Canada proper continues to have full control over its wireless and satellite/cable operations throughout Canada, as well as wireline operations in major centres such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and surrounding areas.
Bell Aliant has also assumed Bell's 63.4% interests in both NorthernTel and Télébec. Since January 30, 2007, both are 100%-owned by Bell Aliant. Both firms continue to operate their own wireless networks.
In late 2009, Bell Aliant launched its FibreOP service with deployment commencing in New Brunswick, followed by simultaneous deployments in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in 2010-2011 with the service available to approximately 600,000 customers in urban centres across the three provinces by 2012. The FibreOP service will cover an entire urban area with a fibre optic network to offer IPTV and high speed internet. This is an evolution of earlier efforts that saw Bell Aliant predecessor NBTel deploy television services in the Saint John, New Brunswick urban area in the 1990s, followed by a similar deployment in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The new FibreOP network provides Internet speeds of up to 250 Mbit/s down and 30 Mbit/s up. and will be bundled with Bell Aliant's television and residential telephone services.
On July 23, 2014, Bell Canada's parent company BCE Inc. announced plans to take Bell Aliant private through a combination of cash and BCE stock, in a transaction valued at C$3.95 billion. The deal is not expected to require a lengthy regulatory-approval process as BCE is already considered the controlling shareholder of Bell Aliant, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Currently, the company operates as "Bell Aliant" in Atlantic Canada and as "Bell" in Ontario and Quebec. The Atlantic Canada services were known as simply "Aliant" until spring 2009. Similarly, the former Aliant wireless and retail networks initially operated under the "Aliant" brand in Atlantic Canada, albeit now under the direct control of Bell. Wireless services transitioned to the Bell brand in April 2008.
In Atlantic Canada, Bell Aliant's services include high-speed and dial-up internet access, wireline telephone service, and IPTV cable television. Its main competitors are the region's incumbent cable providers, EastLink and Rogers Communications, who had eroded on Bell Aliant's market share until mid-2009, at which time Bell Aliant launched FibreOP, and as of mid-2011 was available to 294,000 homes and businesses in Atlantic Canada.
Services in rural Ontario and rural Quebec are similar, with the exception that IPTV and FibreOp are not available in rural Quebec.
Other companies with similar names
Bell Aliant is not related to Aliant Communications, a former communications company (companies known as Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Co. and Lincoln Telecommunications until 1996) based in Lincoln, Nebraska, which was acquired by Alltel in 1999. (The Atlantic Canadian firm in fact acquired the rights to the "Aliant" trademark immediately after Alltel's acquisition was finalized.)
Other unrelated companies include:
- Aliant Financial Corp and Aliant Financial Services Corp, Alabama;
- Aliant Horizons Inc; and
- Aliant Statutory Trust, Alabama.
- "Bell Aliant announces Karen Sheriff as new President and CEO". Aliant. Aliant. October 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
- "Aliant Inc. 2005 Annual Information Form". Retrieved 2006-07-11.
- Bell Aliant fact sheet, June 30, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- "Bell Aliant: BCE to privatize Atlantic Canada telecom affiliate". CBCNews.ca. 2014-07-23. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
- "Bell Aliant wires Saint John, Fredericton with fibre optic network". CBC News. July 7, 2009.
- Aliant Mobility Changes
- Financialpost.com, Residential Customers Leaving, Declining Market Share
- Canadian Trade-mark Database record for serial no. 0877595 - originally filed by Aliant Communications in 1998; transferred to Aliant Inc. in 1999