Bell Canada racked up its highest number of Q2 mobile net additions in 18 years, as massive prepaid gains more than made up for a dip in post-paid activations.

Net additions increased 30 per cent year-on-year to 149,478. While post-paid fell from 122,000 in Q2 2018 to 103,000 in the recent quarter, prepaid grew by 46,500, compared with a loss of 7,600.

On an earnings call, COO Mirko Bibic attributed the prepaid gains to the success of the company’s low-cost Lucky Mobile brand, which was helped by a distribution agreement Bell signed with retail chain Dollarama in May.

“Clearly, we’re taking market share in this segment and over time, we hope to convert many of these customers over to post-paid service.”

Bibic added the company is continuing its 5G preparations, with network trials “well underway”. He said 85 per cent of Bell’s urban and rural cell sites will have the high-speed backhaul capabilities necessary for 5G by the end of this year, but noted the company will have to wait to get its hands on much-needed mid-band spectrum for next generation deployments.

“We need 3500MHz spectrum to bring Canada into the true 5G world, and as you all know, that auction is scheduled for 2020.”

Wireless revenue of $2.2 billion was up 3.2 per cent year-on-year, contributing to a 2.5 per cent increase in total revenue to $5.9 billion. Net income of $817 million was up 8 per cent.