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Telus narrowly misses profit estimates as oil prices wreak havoc in Alberta

The rout in oil prices has hit Alberta's economy hard, with unemployment in the province surpassing the national average for the first time since 1988. Telus's customers are largely concentrated in Western Canada.

Telus Corp. painted a significantly clearer picture Thursday about how exactly its businesses in Canada’s oilpatch have weathered the uncertainty and job losses resulting from the continuing rout in oil prices.

In Alberta, the carrier asserted it gained a mere 4,400 new postpaid subscribers on the net basis throughout the other half of 2015, down from the net 50,000 throughout the same period this past year. It disclosed that average revenue per customer plunged in excess of 4.5 percent.

In the fourth quarter alone, business users within the province trimmed their regular bills by an average of 7.6 per cent. The rate of monthly disconnections also ticked higher, but it is still “remarkably lower” compared to national rate, which ranks the best among the Big Three.

It’s the best thing “Western Canada isn’t one province. It’s two. The B.C. economy continues to be very strong for us,” leader Darren Entwistle said Thursday on the Vancouver telco’s fourth-period earnings call.

“If we are able to generate outcomes of this ilk within the context that people face now economically in Alberta, then I’d say there exists a very bright future ahead … whilst we work our way through the eventual Alberta recovery.”

According to estimates complied by analysts at RBC Capital Markets, Telus commands 48 per cent from the province’s wireless market, which accounts for 23 percent of their wireless revenues and 11 per cent of total sales. Rivals BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. possess 24 and 25 per cent, respectively, of sales.

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