TELUS Corporation – Annual report – 31 December 2018
2 accounting policy developments (extract 1)
(a) Initial application of standards, interpretations and amendments to standards and interpretations in the reporting period (extract)
- IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, is required to be applied for years beginning on or after January 1, 2018. The International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board of the United States worked on this joint project to clarify the principles for the recognition of revenue. The new standard was released in May 2014 and supersedes existing standards and interpretations, including IAS 18, Revenue. We have applied the standard retrospectively to prior reporting periods, subject to permitted and elected practical expedients.
The effects of the new standard and the materiality of those effects vary by industry and entity; the effects of our retrospective application are set out in (c) following. Like many other telecommunications companies, we are materially affected by its application, primarily in respect of the timing of revenue recognition, the classification of revenue, the capitalization of the costs of obtaining a contract with a customer and the capitalization of the costs of contract fulfilment (as defined by the new standard).
Revenue – timing of recognition; classification
The timing of revenue recognition and the classification of our revenues as either service revenues or equipment revenues are affected, since the allocation of consideration in multiple element arrangements (solutions for our customers that may involve deliveries of multiple services and products that occur at different points in time and/or over different periods of time) is no longer affected by the limitation cap methodology previously required by generally accepted accounting principles.
The effects of the timing of revenue recognition and the classification of revenue are most pronounced in our wireless results. Although the measurement of the total revenue recognized over the life of a contract is largely unaffected by the new standard, the prohibition of the use of the limitation cap methodology accelerates the recognition of total contract revenue, relative to both the associated cash inflows from customers and our previous practice (using the limitation cap methodology); as set out in (c) following, cash inflows are unaffected. The acceleration of the recognition of contract revenue relative to the associated cash inflows also results in the recognition of an amount reflecting the resulting difference as a contract asset. Although the underlying transaction economics do not differ, during periods of sustained growth in the number of wireless subscriber connection additions, assuming comparable contract-lifetime per unit cash inflows, revenues would appear to be greater than under the previous practice (using the limitation cap methodology). Wireline results arising from transactions that include the initial provision of subsidized equipment or promotional pricing plans will be similarly affected.
We have applied the new standard retrospectively, subject to associated decisions in respect of transitional provisions and permitted practical expedients. The contract asset initially recorded upon transition to the new standard represents revenues that will not be, and have not been, reflected at any time in our periodic results of operations, but that would have been if not for the transition to the new standard; the effect of this “pulling forward” of revenues is expected to be somewhat muted by the composite ongoing inception, maturation and expiration of millions of multi-year contracts with our customers.
Costs of contract acquisition; costs of contract fulfilment – timing of recognition
Similarly, the measurement of the total costs of contract acquisition and contract fulfilment over the life of a contract is unaffected by the new standard, but the timing of recognition is. The new standard results in our costs of contract acquisition and contract fulfilment, to the extent that they are material, being capitalized and subsequently recognized as an expense over the life of a contract on a rational, systematic basis consistent with the pattern of the transfer of goods or services to which the asset relates. Although the underlying transaction economics would not differ, during periods of sustained growth in the number of customer connection additions, assuming comparable per unit costs of contract acquisition and contract fulfilment, absolute profitability measures would appear to be greater than under the previous practice (immediate expensing of such costs).
Our operations and associated systems are complex and our accounting for millions of multi-year contracts with our customers was affected. Significantly, in order to give effect to the new accounting methodology, incremental compilation of historical data was necessary for our millions of already existing multi-year contracts with our customers that were in-scope for purposes of transitioning to the new standard.
After a multi-year expenditure of time and effort, we developed the accounting policies, estimates, judgments and processes necessary to transition to the new standard. Upon completion of the implementation of these items, which included the critical incremental requirements of our information technology systems, we completed the incremental compilation of historical data and the related accounting for that data, all of which is necessary to transition to the new standard.
We are using the following practical expedients provided for in, and transitioning to, the new standard:
- No restatement for contracts that were completed as at January 1, 2017, or earlier.
- No restatement for contracts that were modified prior to January 1, 2017. The aggregate effect of all such modifications will be reflected when identifying satisfied and unsatisfied performance obligations and the transaction prices to be allocated thereto, and when determining the transaction prices.
- No disclosure of the aggregate transaction prices allocated to remaining unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, performance obligations for all periods ending prior to January 1, 2018.
2 accounting policy developments (extract 2)
(c) Impacts of application of new standards in fiscal 2018
IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, affected our Consolidated statements of income and other comprehensive income as follows:
1 For the year ended December 31, 2017, other operating income and the change in measurement of investment financial assets included within other comprehensive income increased and decreased, respectively, by $1 arising from the designation of financial assets as being accounted for either at fair value through net income or at fair value through other comprehensive income. Such designation of financial assets is required due to the retrospective implementation of IFRS 9, Financial Instruments.
The effects of the transition to IFRS 15 on the line items in the preceding table are set out below:
IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, affected our Consolidated statements of financial position as follows:
1 Goodwill and non-current provisions have been adjusted as set out in Note 18(c).
The effects of the transition to IFRS 15 on the line items in the preceding table are set out below:
IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, affected our Consolidated statements of cash flows as follows:
1 For the year ended December 31, 2017, net income and other increased and decreased, respectively, by $1 arising from the designation of financial assets as being accounted for either at fair value through net income or at fair value through other comprehensive income. Such designation of financial assets is required due to the retrospective implementation of IFRS 9, Financial Instruments.
1 summary of significant accounting policies (extract 1)
(e) Revenue recognition
See Note 2(a) for significant changes to IFRS-IASB which significantly affect the timing of the recognition of revenue and the classification of revenues presented as either service or equipment revenues.
We earn the majority of our revenues (wireless: network revenues (voice and data); wireline: data revenues (which include: Internet protocol; television; hosting, managed information technology and cloud-based services; business process outsourcing; certain healthcare solutions; and home and business security) and voice revenues) from access to, and usage of, our telecommunications infrastructure. The majority of the balance of our revenues (wireless equipment and other) arises from providing services and products facilitating access to, and usage of, our telecommunications infrastructure.
We offer complete and integrated solutions to meet our customers’ needs. These solutions may involve deliveries of multiple services and products (our performance obligations) that occur at different points in time and/or over different periods of time; as referred to in (b), this is a significant judgment for us. As required, the performance obligations of these multiple element arrangements are identified, the transaction price for the entire multiple element arrangement is determined and allocated among the performance obligations based upon our relative stand-alone selling prices for each of them, and our relevant revenue recognition policies are then applied, so that revenue is recognized when, or as, we satisfy the performance obligations. (We estimate that approximately two-thirds of our revenues arise from multiple element arrangements.) To the extent that variable consideration is included in determining the minimum transaction price, it is constrained to the “minimum spend” amount required in a contract with a customer. Service revenues arising from contracts with customers typically have variable consideration, because customers have the ongoing ability to both add and remove features and services, and because customer usage of our telecommunications infrastructure may exceed the base amounts provided for in their contracts.
Our contracts with customers do not have a significant financing component. Excepting both equipment-related upfront payments that may be required under the terms of contracts with customers and in-store “cash and carry” sales of equipment and accessories, payments are typically due 30 days from the billing date. Billings are typically rendered on a monthly basis.
Multiple contracts with a single customer are normally accounted for as separate arrangements. In instances where multiple contracts are entered into with a customer in a short period of time, the contracts are reviewed as a group to ensure that, as with multiple element arrangements, their relative transaction prices are appropriate.
Lease accounting is applied to an accounting unit if it conveys to a customer the right to use a specific asset but does not convey the risks and/or benefits of ownership.
Our revenues are recorded net of any value-added and/or sales taxes billed to the customer concurrent with a revenue-generating transaction.
We use the following revenue accounting practical expedients provided for in IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers:
- No adjustment of the contracted amount of consideration for the effects of financing components when, at the inception of a contract, we expect that the effect of the financing component is not significant at the individual contract level.
- No deferral of contract acquisition costs when the amortization period for such costs would be one year or less.
- When estimating minimum transaction prices allocated to any remaining unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, performance obligations, exclusion of amounts arising from contracts originally expected to have a duration of one year or less, as well as amounts arising from contracts under which we may recognize and bill revenue in an amount that corresponds directly with our completed performance obligations.
Many of our multiple element arrangements arise from bundling the sale of equipment (e.g. a wireless handset) with a contracted service period. Although the customer receives the equipment at contract inception and the revenue from the associated completed performance obligation is recognized at that time, the customer’s payment for the equipment will effectively be received rateably over the contracted service period to the extent it is not received as a lump-sum amount at contract inception. The difference between the equipment revenue recognized and the associated amount cumulatively billed to the customer is recognized on the Consolidated statements of financial position as a contract asset.
Contract assets may also arise in instances where we give consideration to a customer. When we receive no identifiable, separable benefit for consideration given to a customer, the amount of the consideration is recorded as a reduction of revenue rather than as an expense. Such amounts are included in the determination of transaction prices for allocation purposes in multiple element arrangements.
- Some forms of consideration given to a customer, effectively at contract inception, such as rebates (including prepaid non-bank cards) and/or equipment, are considered to be performance obligations in a multiple element arrangement. Although the performance obligation is satisfied at contract inception, the customer’s payment associated with the performance obligation will effectively be received rateably over the associated contracted service period. The difference between the revenue arising from the satisfied performance obligation and the associated amount cumulatively reflected in billings to the customer is recognized on the Consolidated statements of financial position as a contract asset.
- Other forms of consideration given to a customer, either at contract inception or over a period of time, such as discounts (including prepaid bank cards), may result in us receiving no identifiable, separable benefit and thus are not considered performance obligations. Such consideration is recognized as a reduction of revenue rateably over the term of the contract. The difference between the consideration provided and the associated amount recognized as a reduction of revenue is recognized on the Consolidated statements of financial position as a contract asset.
Advance billings are recorded when billing occurs prior to provision of the associated services; such advance billings are recognized as revenue in the period in which the services and/or equipment are provided (see Note 24). Similarly, and as appropriate, upfront customer activation and connection fees are deferred and recognized over the average expected term of the customer relationship.
Costs of contract acquisition and contract fulfilment
Costs of contract acquisition (typically commissions) and contract fulfilment costs are capitalized and recognized as an expense, generally over the life of the contract on a systematic and rational basis consistent with the pattern of the transfer of goods or services to which the asset relates. The amortization of such costs is included in the Consolidated statements of income and other comprehensive income as a component of Goods and services purchased, with the exception of amounts paid to our employees, which are included as Employee benefits expense.
The total cost of wireless equipment sold to customers and advertising and promotion costs related to initial customer acquisition are expensed as incurred; the cost of equipment we own that is situated at customers’ premises and associated installation costs are capitalized as incurred. Costs of advertising production, advertising airtime and advertising space are expensed as incurred.
Voice and data
We recognize revenues on an accrual basis and include an estimate of revenues earned but unbilled. Wireless and wireline service revenues are recognized based upon access to, and usage of, our telecommunications infrastructure and upon contract fees.
Advance billings are recorded when billing occurs prior to provision of the associated services; such advance billings are recognized as revenue in the period in which the services are provided. Similarly, and as appropriate, upfront customer activation and connection fees are deferred and recognized over the average expected term of the customer relationship.
We use the liability method of accounting for the amounts of our quality of service rate rebates that arise from the jurisdiction of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The CRTC has established a mechanism to subsidize local exchange carriers, such as ourselves, that provide residential basic telephone service to high cost serving areas. The CRTC has determined the per network access line/per band subsidy rate for all local exchange carriers. We recognize the subsidy on an accrual basis by applying the subsidy rate to the number of residential network access lines we provide in high cost serving areas, as discussed further in Note 7. Differences, if any, between interim and final subsidy rates set by the CRTC are accounted for as a change in estimate in the period in which the CRTC finalizes the subsidy rate.
Other and wireless equipment
We recognize product revenues, including amounts related to wireless handsets sold to re-sellers and customer premises equipment, when the products are both delivered to and accepted by the end-user customers, irrespective of which supply channel delivers the product. With respect to wireless handsets sold to re-sellers, we consider ourselves to be the principal and primary obligor to the end-user customers. Revenues from operating leases of equipment are recognized on a systematic and rational basis (normally a straight-line basis) over the term of the lease.
Non-high cost serving area deferral account
In an effort to foster competition for residential basic service in non-high cost serving areas, the concept of a deferral account mechanism was introduced by the CRTC in 2002 as an alternative to mandating price reductions. We use the liability method of accounting for the deferral account. We discharge the deferral account liability by undertaking qualifying actions. We recognize the amortization (over a period no longer than three years) of a proportionate share of the deferral account as qualifying actions are completed. Such amortization is included as a component of government assistance in Other operating income, as set out in Note 7.
1 summary of significant accounting policies (extract 2)
(b) Use of estimates and judgments (extract)
In respect of revenue-generating transactions, we must make judgments that affect the timing of the recognition of revenue. See Note 2(a) for significant changes to IFRS-IASB which significantly affect the timing of the recognition of revenue and the classification of revenues presented as either service or equipment revenues.
- We must make judgments about when we have satisfied our performance obligations to our customers, either over a period of time or at a point in time. Service revenues are recognized based upon customers’ access to, or usage of, our telecommunications infrastructure; we believe that this method faithfully depicts the transfer of the services, and thus the revenues are recognized as the services are made available and/or rendered. We consider our performance obligations arising from the sale of equipment to have been satisfied when the equipment has been delivered to, and accepted by, the end-user customers (see (e) following).
- Principally in the context of revenue-generating transactions involving wireless handsets, we must make judgments about whether third-party re-sellers that deliver equipment to our customers are acting in the transactions as principals or as our agents. Upon due consideration of the relevant indicators, we believe that the decision to consider the re-sellers to be acting, solely for accounting purposes, as our agents is more representative of the economic substance of the transactions, as we are the primary obligor to the end-user customers. The effect of this judgment is that no equipment revenue is recognized upon the transfer of inventory to third-party re-sellers.
- We compensate third-party re-sellers and our employees for generating revenues, and we must exercise judgment as to whether such sales-based compensation amounts are costs incurred to obtain contracts with customers that should be capitalized (see Note 20). We believe that compensation amounts tangentially attributable to obtaining a contract with a customer, because the amount of such compensation could be affected in ways other than by simply obtaining that contract, should be expensed as incurred; compensation amounts directly attributable to obtaining a contract with a customer should be capitalized and subsequently amortized on a systematic basis, consistent with the satisfaction of our associated performance obligations.
Judgment must also be exercised in the capitalization of costs incurred to fulfill revenue-generating contracts with customers. Such fulfilment costs are those incurred to set up, activate or otherwise implement services involving access to, or usage of, our telecommunications infrastructure that would not otherwise be capitalized as property, plant and equipment and intangible assets (see Note 20).
4 financial instruments (extract)
(b) Credit risk (extract)
Excluding credit risk, if any, arising from currency swaps settled on a gross basis, the best representation of our maximum exposure (excluding income tax effects) to credit risk, which is a worst-case scenario and does not reflect results we expect, is set out in the following table:
Cash and temporary investments, net
Credit risk associated with cash and temporary investments is managed by ensuring that these financial assets are placed with: governments; major financial institutions that have been accorded strong investment grade ratings by a primary rating agency; and/or other creditworthy counterparties. An ongoing review evaluates changes in the status of counterparties.
Credit risk associated with accounts receivable is inherently managed by the size and diversity of our large customer base, which includes substantially all consumer and business sectors in Canada. We follow a program of credit evaluations of customers and limit the amount of credit extended when deemed necessary.
As at December 31, 2018, the weighted average age of customer accounts receivable was 30 days (December 31, 2017 – 26 days; January 1, 2017 – 26 days) and the weighted average age of past-due customer accounts receivable was 56 days (December 31, 2017 – 60 days; January 1, 2017 – 61 days). Accounts are considered to be past due (in default) when customers have failed to make the contractually required payments when due, which is generally within 30 days of the billing date. Any late payment charges are levied at an industry-based market or negotiated rate on outstanding non-current customer account balances.
1 Net amounts represent customer accounts receivable for which an allowance had not been made as at the dates of the Consolidated statements of financial position (see Note 6(b)).
We maintain allowances for lifetime expected credit losses related to doubtful accounts. Current economic conditions (including forward-looking macroeconomic data), historical information (including credit agency reports, if available), reasons for the accounts being past due and the line of business from which the customer accounts receivable arose are all considered when determining whether to make allowances for past-due accounts. The same factors are considered when determining whether to write off amounts charged to the allowance for doubtful accounts against the customer accounts receivable; amounts charged to the customer accounts receivable allowance for doubtful accounts that were written off but were still subject to enforcement activity as at December 31, 2018, totalled $353 million (December 31, 2017 – $298 million; January 1, 2017 – $231 million). The doubtful accounts expense is calculated on a specific-identification basis for customer accounts receivable above a specific balance threshold and on a statistically derived allowance basis for the remainder. No customer accounts receivable are written off directly to the doubtful accounts expense.
The following table presents a summary of the activity related to our allowance for doubtful accounts.
Credit risk associated with contract assets is inherently managed by the size and diversity of our large customer base, which includes substantially all consumer and business sectors in Canada. We follow a program of credit evaluations of customers and limit the amount of credit extended when deemed necessary.
We maintain allowances for lifetime expected credit losses related to contract assets. Current economic conditions, historical information (including credit agency reports, if available), and the line of business from which the contract asset arose are all considered when determining impairment allowances. The same factors are considered when determining whether to write off amounts charged to the impairment allowance for contract assets against contract assets.
5 segment information
Operating segments are components of an entity that engage in business activities from which they earn revenues and incur expenses (including revenues and expenses related to transactions with the other component(s)), the operations of which can be clearly distinguished and for which the operating results are regularly reviewed by a chief operating decision-maker to make resource allocation decisions and to assess performance. As we do not currently aggregate operating segments, our reportable segments as at December 31, 2018, are also wireless and wireline. The wireless segment includes network revenues and equipment sales arising from mobile technologies. The wireline segment includes data revenues (which include Internet protocol; television; hosting, managed information technology and cloud-based services; customer care and business services (formerly business process outsourcing); certain healthcare solutions; and home and business security), voice and other telecommunications services revenues (excluding wireless arising from mobile technologies), and equipment sales. Segmentation has been based on similarities in technology (mobile versus fixed), the technical expertise required to deliver the services and products, customer characteristics, the distribution channels used and regulatory treatment. Intersegment sales are recorded at the exchange value, which is the amount agreed to by the parties.
The segment information regularly reported to our Chief Executive Officer (our chief operating decision-maker), and the reconciliations thereof to our products and services view of revenues, other revenues and income before income taxes, are set out in the following table.
1 Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) does not have any standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS-IASB and is therefore unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers; we define EBITDA as operating revenues less goods and services purchased and employee benefits expense. We have issued guidance on, and report, EBITDA because it is a key measure that management uses to evaluate the performance of our business, and it is also utilized in measuring compliance with certain debt covenants.
2 Total capital expenditures (CAPEX); see Note 31(a) for a reconciliation of capital expenditures, excluding spectrum licences to cash payments for capital assets, excluding spectrum licences reported in the Consolidated statements of cash flows.
We attribute revenues from external customers to individual countries on the basis of the location where the goods and/or services are provided. We do not have significant revenues that we attribute to countries other than Canada (our country of domicile), nor do we have significant amounts of property, plant, equipment and/or intangible assets located outside of Canada. As at December 31, 2018, on a historical cost basis, we had $546 million (2017 – $262 million) of goodwill located outside of Canada.
6 revenue from contracts with customers
In the determination of the minimum transaction prices in contracts with customers, amounts are allocated to fulfilling, or completion of fulfilling, future contracted performance obligations. These unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, future contracted performance obligations are largely in respect of services to be provided over the duration of the contract. The following table sets out our aggregate estimated minimum transaction prices allocated to remaining unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, future contracted performance obligations and the timing of when we might expect to recognize the associated revenues; actual amounts could differ from these estimates due to a variety of factors, including the unpredictable nature of: customer behaviour; industry regulation; the economic environments in which we operate; and competitor behaviour.
1 Excludes constrained variable consideration amounts, amounts arising from contracts originally expected to have a duration of one year or less and, as a permitted practical expedient, amounts arising from contracts that are not affected by revenue recognition timing differences arising from transaction price allocation or from contracts under which we may recognize and bill revenue in an amount that corresponds directly with our completed performance obligations.
2 IFRS-IASB requires the explanation of when we expect to recognize as revenue the amounts disclosed as the estimated minimum transaction price allocated to remaining unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, performance obligations. The estimated amounts disclosed are based upon contractual terms and maturities. Actual minimum transaction price revenues recognized, and the timing thereof, will differ from these estimates primarily due to the frequency with which the actual durations of contracts with customers do not match their contractual maturities.
(b) Accounts receivable
(c) Contract assets
1 For the year ended December 31, 2018, amounts billed for our wireless segment and reclassified to accounts receivable totalled $1,180 (2017 – $1,060).
8 employee benefits expense
20 other long-term assets
The costs incurred to obtain and fulfill contracts with customers are set out in the following table:
1 Presented on the Consolidated statements of financial position in prepaid expenses.
24 advance billings and customer deposits
Contract liabilities represent our future performance obligations to customers in respect of services and/or equipment and for which we have received consideration from the customer or for which an amount is due from the customer. Our contract liability balances, and the changes in those balances, are set out in the following table: