Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T is introducing a lower-cost 5G cellphone plan and doubling the amount of data that comes with its most popular wireless offering as it looks to boost uptake of its fifth-generation wireless services.
The move is also driven by the opportunity to sell wireless and internet bundles to the Toronto-based telecom’s newly acquired customers in Western Canada after recently closing its $20-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc SJR-B-T.
Phil Hartling, the president of wireless at Rogers, said the market for such bundles has doubled as a result of the acquisition. Now, roughly 70 per cent of Canadian households are able to purchase all their services from Rogers, he said.
That’s partly behind the decision to introduce a cheaper 5G plan, Mr. Hartling said.
“We have to have the Rogers brand positioned in the market as a mass brand that can serve many customer needs,” he said.
Rogers’ $85 plan, which gives customers 25 gigabytes of data before throttling their speeds, will now come with 50 gigabytes at full speed. There is a $20 discount if the plan is bundled with residential services.
The telecom is also introducing a $65 plan that comes with 25 gigabytes of data and is available for $55 if bundled with home services. (Unlike with the pricier plan, customers who subscribe to the new plan will be charged overage fees if they exceed their data allotment.)
The company is adding a number of other new plans as well, including one for parents of teenagers, as well as a $65 plan for newcomers to Canada that comes with international long-distance minutes.
Rogers will also transition all the wireless customers on its main Rogers brand who have 5G-capable phones to its 5G network at no extra charge. (The company doesn’t offer 5G through its flanker brands, Fido and Chatr.)
Mr. Hartling said that although roughly 80 per cent of the phones Rogers sells are 5G-capable, only about 40 per cent of Rogers customers with such devices are currently on 5G plans.
“We’ve built this superhighway called 5G that connects to over 2,000 communities,” he said. “We need people on the highway. It’s time for us to push harder to get more people on 5G.”
Asked whether competitors such as Telus Corp. T-T and BCE Inc. BCE-T are likely to match the new Rogers offer, Mr. Hartling said, “This is a very competitive industry, so I always expect that if moves are successful then people will follow.”
The announcement comes as the telecom is expected to face heightened competition from Quebecor Inc.’s QBR-B-T Vidéotron Ltd. Rogers sold Shaw’s Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron for $2.85-billion in order to gain regulatory approval for the takeover of Shaw. Acquiring Freedom has allowed Vidéotron to expand outside its home market of Quebec.
The Montreal-based telecom has promised the federal government, through a written undertaking, that over a period of 10 years it will offer wireless plans that are 20 per cent less expensive than those offered by the major wireless carriers on Feb. 10, 2023. The company has agreed to pay as much as $200-million in penalties if it breaks that promise.
Rogers has also made a number of commitments to Ottawa, including a vow to invest $6.5-billion to expand cellphone and internet services over the next five years.
Separately, Rogers has publicly stated that it will reduce the price of wireless data by more than 30 per cent over the next three years.