Bell Canada (commonly referred to as Bell) is a Canadian telecommunications company headquartered at 1 Carrefour Alexander-Graham-Bell in the borough of Verdun, Quebec, in Canada. It is an ILEC (incumbent local exchange carrier) in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec; as such, it was a founding member of the Stentor Alliance. It is also a CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) for enterprise customers in the western provinces.
Its subsidiary Bell Aliant provides services in the Atlantic provinces. It provides mobile service through its Bell Mobility (including flanker brand Virgin Mobile Canada) subsidiary, and television through its Bell Satellite TV (direct broadcast satellite) and Bell Fibe TV (IPTV) subsidiaries.
Bell Canada's principal competitors are Rogers Communications in Ontario and Western Canada, Telus in Quebec and Western Canada, and Quebecor (Videotron) in Quebec. The company serves over 13 million phone lines and is headquartered at the Campus Bell complex in the borough of Verdun in Montreal." Contact Us." Bell Canada. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
Bell Canada is one of the main assets of the holding company BCE Inc., an abbreviation of its full name, Bell Canada Enterprises. In addition to the Bell Canada telecommunications properties, BCE also owns Bell Media (which operates mass media properties including the national CTV Television Network) and holds significant interests in the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owner of several Toronto professional sports franchises. BCE ranked number 301 on the 2021 edition of the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Collins, Larry; Prevey, W. Harry (ed.). Electricity: The Magic Medium, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Canadian Region, 1985, p. 4, .
For a few years, the senior Bell and his friend and business associate Reverend Thomas Philip Henderson collected royalties from the lease of telephones to customers in the limited late-1870s Canadian market, who either operated their own private telephone lines or subscribed to a third party telecommunications service provider.
In 1879 Bell's father sold his Canadian rights to the National Bell Telephone Company, formed in Boston, Massachusetts earlier that year by the merger of the Bell Telephone Company and the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, which in 1880 reorganized as the American Bell Telephone Company, initiating the Bell System. That same year the Canadian division was renamed to "The Bell Telephone Company of Canada Ltd.", eventually to be headed by U.S. executive Charles Fleetford Sise from Chicago who served as its first general manager.
The first supplier of telephones to Bell was a company established by Thomas C. Cowherd and his son James H. Cowherd, in a three-storey brick building in Brantford, creating Canada's first telephone factory. Thomas and James had been good friends of Alexander Graham Bell, providing stovepipe wire with which Bell conducted his early telephone experiments from his father's home in Tutelo Heights, Ontario, and also building some 2,398 telephones to Bell's specifications for the Canadian market until James Cowherd's untimely death from tuberculosis in 1881.Sharpe, Robert; Canadian Military Heritage Museum. Soldiers and Warriors: The Early Volunteer Militia of Brant County: 1856–1866 , Brantford, ON: Canadian Military Heritage Museum, 1998, pg. 80, ref. citations No. 142 & 143, which in turn cites:
Babe, Robert E. Charles Fleetford Sise in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.), University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005.
Babe, Robert E. Charles Fleetford Sise in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.), University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005.The Bell Telephone Company of Canada was serving 237,000 subscribers by 1914.
Since its early years The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, Ltd. had been known colloquially as "The Bell" or "Bell Telephone". On March 7, 1968, Canadian federal legislation renamed The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, Ltd. to Bell Canada.
Bell acquired interests in all Atlantic companies during the early 1960s, starting with Newfoundland Telephone (which later was organized as NewTel Communications) on July 24, 1962. Bell acquired controlling interest in Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company, later known as MT&T, which also owned PEI-based Island Telecom, and in Bruncorp, the parent company of NBTel in 1966. The purchase of MT&T was made despite efforts of the Nova Scotia legislature on September 10, 1966, to limit the voting power of any shareholder to 1000 votes. Bell-owned MT&T absorbed some 120 independent companies, most serving fewer than 50 customers each. Bell-owned NewTel purchased the CNR-owned Terra Nova Tel in 1988.
In the late 1990s, Newtel, Bruncorp, MT&T and Island Tel merged into Aliant, now Bell Aliant which owns many services in rural areas of Ontario and Quebec formerly owned by Bell Canada.
Having achieved a high level of development, Manitoba moved to privatize its telephone utility and Alberta privatized Alberta Government Telephones to create Telus in the 1990s. Saskatchewan continues to own SaskTel as a crown corporation .Edmonton was served by a city-owned utility, Edmonton Telephones Corporation, that was sold to Telus in 1995. BCE re-gained ownership of the Manitoba system, now known as Bell MTS, on March 17, 2017.
Northern British Columbia, northeastern Ontario and the James Bay region of northern Quebec were served by independent companies, though Bell Canada eventually provided service in more far-flung reaches of Ontario and Quebec, acquired ownership interests in companies serving large swaths of northwestern Quebec and northeastern Ontario, and in Northwestel.
As part of the consent decree signed in 1956 to resolve the antitrust lawsuit filed in 1949 by the United States Department of Justice, AT&T and the Bell System proper divested itself of Nortel in 1956.
In October 1973, AT&T and Bell Canada signed an agreement stating that AT&T would no longer furnish Bell System communications and research to Bell Canada. AT&T's at-the-time chairman John DeButts explained that the main reason for this was because Bell Canada had developed its own research and development lab (Bell-Northern Research), making Bell Canada ready to serve its Canadian landline customers on its own. As a result, AT&T divested Bell Canada on June 30, 1975.
Northern Electric renamed itself Northern Telecom in 1976, which in turn became Nortel Networks in 1998 with the acquisition of Bay Networks.
Bell Canada acquired 100 percent of Northern Electric in 1964; starting in 1973, Bell's ownership stake in Northern Electric was diminished through public stock offerings, though it retained majority control. In 1983, as a result of deregulation, Bell Canada Enterprises (later shortened to BCE) was formed as the parent company to Bell Canada and Northern Telecom. As a result of the stock transaction used by Northern Telecom to purchase Bay Networks, BCE ceased to be the majority owner of Nortel, and in 2000, BCE spun out its share of Nortel, distributing its holdings to its shareholders.
Between 1980 and 1997, the federal government fully deregulated the telecommunications industry and Bell Canada's monopoly largely ended. Bell Canada currently provides local phone service only in major city centres in Ontario and Quebec.
In July 2006, Bell and former subsidiary Aliant completed a restructuring whereby Aliant, renamed Bell Aliant Regional Communications, took over Bell's wireline operations in much of Ontario and Quebec (while continuing to use the "Bell" name in those regions), as well as its 63% ownership in rural lines operator Bell Nordiq (a publicly traded income trust that controls NorthernTel and Télébec). These are in addition to Bell Aliant's operations in Atlantic Canada. In turn, Bell has assumed responsibility for Bell Aliant's wireless and retail operations. Bell Aliant, now an income trust, is 44% owned by Bell.
On April 30, 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its decision to allow pay phone rates for Bell Canada, Telus, Bell Aliant, SaskTel, and MTS Allstream to increase from 25 cents to 50 cents, starting as early as June 1. The CRTC also permitted local rural rates to increase by the lesser of the annual rate of inflation or five percent, and removed price caps on optional rural services, such as call display and voicemail. On June 2, 2007, Bell Canada increased the cost of a local pay phone call to 50 cents when paid in cash and one dollar when paid by calling card or credit card, Bell's first increase in pay phone rates since 1981.
In 2009, Bell Canada purchased electronics retailer The Source and all other assets of InterTAN from bankrupt Circuit City.
In May 2017, the email addresses of 1.9 million Bell customers were stolen, along with the name and phone numbers of 1.7 million customers. Then in January 2018, there was another data breach affecting about 100 thousand Bell customers.
Bell began offering Fibre-to-the-node Internet access to some subscribers in 2010. Bell markets this service under the name "Fibe". Many urban Fibe regions can access all speeds up to and including 50+mbps down and 15+mbps up but some rural Fibe regions can only obtain 16 Mbit/s down and 1 Mbit/s up. Non-Fibe regions are limited to legacy DSL technology, supporting speeds of up to 7 Mbit/s down and 1 Mbit/s up. Bell Canada has now rolled out Fibre to the Home services to certain subscribers across Eastern Canada, this service can provide guaranteed download of 3 Gbit/s and upload speeds of 3 Gbit/s. In August 2019, the company announced it would cut roughly 200,000 households from a rural internet expansion program after a federal regulator lowered wholesale broadband prices that major telecom companies can charge smaller internet providers.
In a press release issued February 24, 2022, Bell announced that it has acquired Internet service provider EBOX. Bell wishes to keep the brand and the activities of EBOX and let the company continue to operate independently while remaining based in Longueuil.
Bell Canada also previously offered cable television services in the United Kingdom via Bell Cablemedia plc (a joint venture with Jones Intercable and Cable & Wireless plc) from 1994 until 1997, when Vidéotron first sold its UK operations to Bell Cablemedia, after which Bell Cablemedia and the UK operations of NYNEX merged with Cable & Wireless plc to form Cable & Wireless Communications.
Coinciding with its advertising campaign as part of its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bell introduced a new logo and minimalist ad style, with the slogans "Today just got better" (with emphasis on the suffix " er") in English Canada and "La vie est Bell" (a pun on "La vie est Belle" — life is beautiful) in French Canada. The font used in Bell's marketing is a custom typeface known as 'Bell Slim', by Canadian typeface designer Ian Brignell.