Archive for Rogers

Competition Bureau Confirms That It Wants To Stop The Rogers Shaw Merger

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 9, 2022 by itnerd

Yesterday I reported that Rogers and Shaw received communication from the Competition Bureau saying that they were going oppose the merger of the two telcos. Now the Competition Bureau has confirmed that this communication happened. And they provided among other details, this:

The Competition Bureau is seeking to block Rogers proposed $26 billion acquisition of Shaw in an effort to protect Canadians from higher prices, poorer service quality and fewer choices, particularly in wireless services.

The Bureau challenged the merger today by requesting an order from the Competition Tribunal to prevent it from proceeding. The Bureau is also requesting an injunction to stop the parties from closing the deal until its application can be heard. The Bureau must now prove its case before the Tribunal in order for the deal to be stopped. 

The Bureau alleges that removing Shaw as a competitor threatens to undo the significant progress it has made introducing more competition into an already concentrated wireless services market, where Rogers, Bell and Telus (the Big 3) serve approximately 87% of Canadian subscribers. 

Following an extensive investigation, the Bureau determined that competition between Rogers and Shaw has already declined. The Bureau’s position is that if the proposed merger is allowed to proceed, that harm will continue and may worsen. The applications filed seek to safeguard an effective, growing and disruptive regional competitor for the benefit of consumers.

Well, this is a very interesting development. The Competition Bureau sees this merger the way that Canadians see this merger. Which is that it is harmful to Canadians because it shrinks competition. I for one will be cheering for the Competition Bureau in this fight as Canada needs to do better when it comes to its telco services.

Competition Bureau To Rogers And Shaw: That Merger Ain’t Happening On Our Watch

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

Rogers and Shaw apparently got some bad news on Friday night. Apparently the Competition Bureau dialled them up and let them know that their proposed merger was going to be opposed by them. Rogers put out a press release that among other things said this:

Rogers Communications Inc. (“Rogers”) and Shaw Communications Inc. (“Shaw”) were notified this afternoon following the close of trading of the Commissioner of Competition’s intention to file applications to the Competition Tribunal opposing Rogers’ proposed merger with Shaw (the “Transaction”).

Rogers and Shaw remain committed to the Transaction, which is in the best interests of Canada and Canadians because of the significant long-term benefits it will bring for consumers, businesses and the economy. The companies have offered to address concerns regarding the possible impact of the Transaction on Canada’s competitive wireless market by proposing the full divesture of Shaw’s wireless business, Freedom Mobile. Rogers and Shaw are engaged in a process to sell Freedom Mobile, with a view to addressing concerns raised by the Commissioner of Competition and ISED.

Rogers and Shaw will oppose the application to prevent the Transaction to be made by the Commissioner of Competition, while continuing to engage constructively with the Competition Bureau in an effort to bring this matter to a resolution and ensure that the Transaction’s benefits can be realized by all Canadians.

As a result of this news, Rogers and Shaw have pushed the the outside date of the merger to July 31 2022. That way they can “engage” with the Competition Bureau and get them to change their minds. Something that I personally don’t see happening. So I expect this to be in court at some point.

Frankly, i’m not at all surprised by this as there has been healthy opposition to this merger as it is seen as reducing competition rather than increasing it. And frankly, Rogers specifically has larger issues at the moment. While they have made announcements about increasing the speeds of their Internet offering to better compete with Bell and Telus, the facts are that those announcements really won’t make the Internet experience for the majority of their customers any better anytime soon. So if I were Rogers, I’d focus on that rather than reducing competition by buying Shaw.

Rogers Announces 2.5 Gbps Symmetrical Fibre…. Which Won’t Be Coming To You Anytime Soon

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 21, 2022 by itnerd

Hot off the heels of Rogers rising from the dead after being beaten down by Bell for years because Bell has a much faster Internet offering, comes this announcement. To follow up with their announcement of 8 Gbps fibre that is coming this summer, comes the announcement of 2.5 Gbps service:

Rogers announced today that it has launched new fibre-powered Ignite Internet packages and bundles, with symmetrical download and upload speeds of up to 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Existing Rogers customers that subscribe to Ignite Internet Gigabit 1.5 will be automatically upgraded to symmetrical speeds up to 2.5 Gbps starting today at no extra cost. Building on its commitment to provide leading next-generation products and services to its customers, Rogers is offering even faster download and upload speeds in a growing number of homes and neighbourhoods across Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

That’s great if you have their 1.5 Gbps service. Because prior to writing this story I pinged a bunch of my clients all over what is known as the Golden Horseshoe which is basically Toronto, east of Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara Region and nobody has their 1.5 Gbps service. Most of them are stuck on Rogers uncompetitive and rather embarrassing 1 Gbps downstream/30 Mbps upstream service or tiers that are slower than that. Which means that this new service isn’t going to benefit the majority of Rogers customers anytime soon. Contrast that with Bell who served this up on Twitter this morning:

Bell continues to be hyper aggressive in terms of getting their fibre network to more places as fast as they can as evidenced by the Tweet above. As a result Bell’s fibre footprint is massive compared to what little fibre Rogers has. Which means that Bell’s lead when it comes to the speed of their Internet offerings is only going to increase, and conversely Rogers will continue to be on the back foot desperately trying to catch up. It also does it solve the issue of Rogers customers who can’t get above 1 Gbps looking at Bell and saying “Bell’s speeds destroy’s anything that Rogers has to offer. Let’s switch to them.”

So while this release from Rogers, and the one that they put out earlier this week sound good. They’re really meaningless as these moves from Rogers do nothing to help existing and loyal Rogers customers get a competitive Internet product from the telco. And that’s going to bite Rogers sooner rather than later.

Rogers Rises From The Dead And Announces 8 Gbps Fibre Internet…. In Select Markets

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2022 by itnerd

I’ve been very critical of Rogers when it comes to their Internet offerings. Most recently I said this when Bell rolled out 3 Gbps :

Rogers with their current cable offering can only hit a maximum speed of 1 Gbps downstream and a rather pathetic and uncompetitive 30 Mbps upstream. Which when compared to this new offering from Bell isn’t in the same league.

Well, it seems that Rogers still has some fight left in them. The company announced this today:

As leaders in network technology, Rogers announced today that it has successfully completed tests in both lab and customer trials of download and upload speeds of up to 8 Gigabits per second (Gbps) on its fibre-powered network, more than doubling the fastest published Internet speeds of any major provider in Canada. Building on its commitment to provide leading next-generation products and services to its customers, the potential of 8 Gbps speeds will elevate and future-proof home broadband with more bandwidth, making it even easier to stream, work, surf, and game online on even more devices simultaneously.

If they can actually roll this out to homes and it hits these speeds, then Rogers is back in the game. But before you stop traffic and hold a parade outside the Rogers HQ at 1 Mount Pleasant Rd, there’s this:

Rogers new Ignite Internet, offering download and upload speeds of 8 Gbps, will be available in Summer 2022 for customers in select areas across Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

That “select areas” part is what gets my attention. That could mean that Rogers is rolling this out to new developments rather than existing areas that Rogers serves. Which means that if you’re a existing Rogers customer, you might not see any benefit from this announcement. At least not for a very long time. Thus why this is a great announcement, it would be in Rogers best interest to disclose where this will be rolled out specifically and get it into as many places as possible ASAP. Otherwise this will end up being a nothing announcement.

CRTC Approves Rogers Takeover Of Shaw…. And That’s A Mistake

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 25, 2022 by itnerd

Yesterday, the CRTC approved the takeover of Shaw by Rogers. In it’s decision, it said this:

The Commission approves, subject to a number of modifications and the fulfilment of specific conditions of approval, an application by Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers), on behalf of Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw), for authority to transfer the effective control of the broadcasting undertakings licensed to Shaw or its subsidiaries to Rogers or its subsidiaries. The Commission concludes that the transaction as modified by the Commission is in the public interest and advances the objectives set out for the Canadian broadcasting system in the Broadcasting Act (the Act).

Those conditions are:

  • A $27.2 million payout to the Canada Media Fund, Independent Journalism Fund and other cultural agencies
  • Time-bound commitments to Shaw customers, such as notifying them 90 days before current contracts end about the impending merger
  • Rogers also must report annually on its increased contribution to local news
  • Hiring more journalists at its Citytv stations
  • Producing an extra 48 news specials annually “that reflect local communities.”

Now this decision only covers broadcasting elements of the transaction. It doesn’t cover the cellular parts of the deal for example. But regardless, the CRTC has once again proved that they don’t have the interests of Canadians in mind. This deal would reduce competition, raise prices, and not benefit Canadians at the end of the day because they would have less choice in the telco marketplace. And it proves that the CRTC needs to be abolished in favour of a regulatory body that protects Canadians and holds telcos accountable. Because when the head of the CRTC meets his telco friend in a bar for a beer, then any pretence of impartiality goes out the window. Which by extension means that decisions like this are suspect by default.

Now to be fair, there are other hoops that this deal has to go through. And one can hope that common sense prevails and nukes this deal from orbit. But somehow I see this as the beginning of the end for affordable telco services in Canada.

The Feds Won’t Allow Rogers To Keep Shaw’s Wireless Assets If They Take Over Shaw Communications

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 4, 2022 by itnerd

I am pretty sure that people in the corner offices of 1 Mount Pleasant in Toronto which is where Rogers is located are not happy about this. But CP24 is reporting that the Canadian Government isn’t going to allow Rogers to hold onto Shaw’s wireless assets which includes Freedom Mobile if they succeed in buying Shaw Communications:

Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he shares many of the concerns expressed in recent months by Canadians about the proposed acquisition of Calgary-based Shaw by Toronto-based telecom giant Rogers, and will not allow Rogers to acquire all of Shaw’s wireless spectrum.

“I am strongly committed to our policies to promote competition and ensure cellphone affordability for Canadians,” Champagne said in a news release after markets closed.

“The wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Rogers is fundamentally incompatible with our government’s policies for spectrum and mobile service competition, and I will simply not permit it.”

This can’t have been a surprise to Rogers as both Liberal and Conservative governments in Canada have been wanting a cellular marketplace in Canada that has way more competition than it does now. Because to be frank, there isn’t any real competition in Canada’s cellular marketplace. On top of that, this deal has really faced stiff opposition from a variety of groups. So you can fully expect Rogers to face significant headwinds in getting this deal done. If they can somehow get it done as I question if they can get this over the line.

Rogers And Telus Dump Russia TV From Their Channel Lineups [UPDATE: Shaw And Bell Too]

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 28, 2022 by itnerd

I woke up this morning to a couple of interesting Tweets from Rogers and Telus:

Russia TV is a state owned TV network that has been accused of being a mouthpiece for the Russian government in the past. Thus clearly Rogers and Telus felt that Russia TV had no place as part of their TV offering. And whatever cash that they lose as a result of this is likely negligible. Interestingly, I did a search to see if Bell had done the same thing, and they haven’t. Or at least they haven’t announced it on Twitter. I am not sure if that’s because they were asleep at the switch, or if they don’t have Russia TV as part of their channel lineup. I’ll be keeping an eye on that. But in any case, dumping Russia TV is likely going to be marginally more effective at sending a message to Russia than suggestions of banning Russian Vodka.

UPDATE: Shaw has pulled Russia TV from their TV lineup as well:

And according to this, Bell has done the same thing.

Rogers Rolling Out Fibre In New Brunswick

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 18, 2022 by itnerd

I’ve been saying for a while that Rogers needs to start rolling out fibre to their user base quickly or be left behind by Bell as from a tech standpoint Bell has the upper hand on Rogers. And based on this press release, they might be about to start doing so:

Building on its commitment to deliver connectivity to more neighbourhoods across Canada, Rogers Communications today announced that it will invest close to $200 million to bring 100% pure fibre to up to 314,000 homes and businesses in New Brunswick starting in the communities of Dieppe, Moncton, Riverview and Shediac. Through these network upgrades, New Brunswickers will have access to pure fibre directly to their homes and businesses to access Rogers leading-edge suite of services.  

And:

Pure fibre delivers a faster, richer, and more responsive online experience that will support even more devices and services – from advance gaming to smart home technology, to virtual support and the most demanding business operations. Pure fibre is next-generation network technology that enables world-class blazing speeds to support transformational growth.   

Once completed, customers will have access to Rogers services including Ignite Internet with download and upload speeds up to 1.5 Gigabits per second, creating an even more seamless experience for uploading music or movies, video conferencing or broadcasting live streams, and creating backups or saving large files to the cloud. Customers will also enjoy endless entertainment with Ignite TV and Ignite SmartStream, bringing together the best content in one place including Netflix, Disney+ and making it faster to find favourites with the easy-to-use Voice Remote.  

While this press release is light on details, such as what the time scales are and the actual speed tiers are, this should make Rogers competitive against Bell for the first time in a long while. At least in that region. Rogers has put up an FAQ on this to answer whatever questions you might have. Though I can’t find anywhere that says where else this will be rolling out. Still, this is going to be worth watching.

A Final Follow Up To My Move To Rogers Ignite Services

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 17, 2021 by itnerd

A quick recap in case you are coming to this story late.

My wife and I wanted to save some money on our telco services. And at the same time we wanted to get some extra speed as Bell offers the fastest Internet speed available. So the original plan was to move to Bell and use their Fibe product. But our attempt to do that went off the rails very quickly when we tried to order their services online for next day installation. And then to add insult to injury, they then very aggressively tried to upsell us at the same time.

Total #Fail.

After pulling the plug on Bell because of their lack of customer focus, we ordered an upgrade kit to make the move to Rogers Ignite. By going to Ignite, we would save about $80 a month. We ordered the kit on a Saturday afternoon online, and we got it on Sunday morning. That blew our minds. And the install was almost painless. The only thing that didn’t go to plan was the install of Rogers Home Phone. But Rogers got that sorted in about an hour after I called them. Now I have done a couple of follow ups on their Ignite IPTV box and their Ignite WiFi Hub that doubles as a gateway for your home phone. All those services have not only worked flawlessly, but the downstream speed of my Internet connection is above Gigabit speeds. All that has been very positive. The only thing was outstanding was billing. Now in our previous interactions with Rogers, when my wife and I tend to make a change with, the billing will get screwed up. That means we’d have to spend time and effort to fix that. And as a result we end up frustrated with Rogers

That didn’t happen this time. All the billing changes happened transparently in the background without any intervention on the part of my wife or I. Now we did note that we had two TV boxes on our Rogers account for about 10 days or so, but a call to Rogers (which required a 16 minute hold to speak to a human which is a bit of a #fail) put our mind at ease on that front. The Rogers rep that we spoke to explained that we were still in the middle of a billing cycle which is why two TV boxes were on our account. Once we rolled over to the next billing cycle, the old TV box would disappear. And it did right when they said it would.

In other words, this went almost perfectly.

Now I give Rogers a lot of criticism. For example, I have been very critical of them not having Internet services that compete with Bell, or Telus for that matter when it comes to speed. But this transition to Rogers Ignite has been pretty much painless on almost every front. Shockingly so in fact. And Rogers customer service has been top shelf. What my wife and I learned was that while Rogers has some serious work to do to offer services that fully compete with Bell, Rogers customer experience absolutely destroys Bell’s customer experience. And a extremely positive customer experience is often more than enough to make up for not being the best guy on the block. Which in terms of their Internet offering, Rogers isn’t. So I would like to give kudos to Rogers for making this a very positive experience. Though at the same time I will say that Rogers needs to quickly do something about the fact that their flagship Internet plan is Gigabit downstream and 30 Mbps upstream which is simply not anything close to being competitive in 2021 when Bell is offering Gigabit downstream and 750 Mbps upstream, or even 1.5 Gigabit downstream and 940 Mbps upstream.

Finally, a quick word for Bell. You had a chance to steal a Rogers customer because your Internet services are fast. And we were even willing to look past the negative interactions that we have had with you in the past because the services that you offer are fast. But your customer experience not only sent us running back to Rogers, but for the foreseeable future we aren’t planning on leaving Rogers because they way you treat your customers is simply shambolic. If you want to change that, you need to prove that you won’t make your customers feel like they have spent time in a high pressure car dealership and that they need a shower afterwards because the slime factor was so high. Now my wife and I don’t think that you’re up to the challenge. But we are free to not only be surprised, but we are open to discussing this with you so that you can understand why we feel the way we do. Not that we expect you to reach out because we know that you’ve read the posts related to this story, and you haven’t reached out despite the fact that our contact info is very easy to find. That likely tells us all that we need to know Bell as an organization and what Bell thinks of their customers. An organization that is customer focused wants to hear about the things that go wrong so that they can improve the customer experience. And it appears that Bell isn’t that sort of organization because they appear that they could care less. Thus we’re not holding our collective breath in terms of anyone from Bell contacting us.

In the meantime, my wife and I will go back to enjoying Rogers Ignite. It may be slower than what Bell offers, but the customer experience that Rogers offers is far better. Which is why it’s in our home at the moment.

Rogers Attempt To Buy Shaw Will Get A Good Hard Look By Regulators

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 7, 2021 by itnerd

I’m pretty sure the folks in Rogers HQ at 1 Mount Pleasant in Toronto are not happy about this development. Reuters is reporting that the Competition Bureau is going to take a look at Rogers attempt to buy Shaw:

The Canadian regulator looking into telecom company Rogers Communications’ planned C$20 billion ($16 billion) purchase of Shaw Communications has obtained court orders to advance its review, the Competition Bureau said on Thursday.

In March, Rogers agreed to buy Shaw in a deal that would create Canada’s second-largest cellular and cable operator. 

The Canadian government was quick to say it would attract stiff regulatory scrutiny, including an investigation from the Competition Bureau and a parliamentary hearing. 

The orders obtained earlier this week will allow the bureau to compel companies including BCE Inc, TELUS Corp and Quebecor Inc-owned Videotron to produce records relevant to the investigation, a statement from the bureau said.

I am not an expert on this sort of thing. But I am thinking that the fact that this deal isn’t being rubber stamped by the relevant Canadian authorities has to concern Rogers as that would that opens up the possibility that someone will put the kibosh on this deal. Because many people think that this deal isn’t good for consumers as there would be less competition. Hopefully the Competition Bureau keep that in mind as they investigate this deal.