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The Federal Court is ordering Rogers Communications Inc. to provide the Competition Bureau with documents in connection with the watchdog’s probe into the telecom’s marketing of its “infinite” data plans.

The competition watchdog says it is examining the Toronto-based telecom’s claims that the plans have unlimited data, noting that there are “allegedly significant reductions in data speed” when users hit their monthly data allotments.

In 2019, Rogers RCI-B-T, BCE Inc. BCE-T and Telus Corp. T-T all introduced wireless plans that throttle users’ speeds when they exceed their data caps instead of charging overage fees.

The Competition Bureau first started investigating Rogers’ advertising of its infinite plans in March, 2022, two months before moving to block the telecom’s proposed $20-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. The takeover closed in April, 2023, after the watchdog lost its case in front of the Competition Tribunal and its subsequent appeal.

The bureau’s probe into Rogers’ infinite plans came to light recently when the agency asked the court for an order compelling Rogers to produce records and information relating to the investigation.

Sarah Brown, a spokesperson for the Competition Bureau, says it is investigating whether Rogers’ marketing practices “raise concerns under the civil deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act.”

“There is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time,” Ms. Brown noted in a statement.

Rogers said in a statement sent by spokesperson Sarah Schmidt that the advertising of its infinite plans is “truthful and clear.”

“The introduction of these plans in 2019, which eliminated data overage charges, was a significant and positive development for consumers and competition,” Ms. Schmidt said.

“These types of unlimited wireless plans are common across Canada and have been offered for more than four years by Rogers and our industry competitors, and we find the bureau’s timing of this inquiry, and that it has singled out Rogers only, quite concerning,” she added.

In court filings, Rogers argues that its competitors also offer unlimited plans and make similar representations about them, and that the plans have been available for more than four years.

The telecom also claims that although the Competition Bureau has been investigating the issue for more than two years without taking action, it only initiated an inquiry three days after Rogers’ takeover of Shaw closed, failing to provide any rationale for its “apparent singular focus on Rogers.”

Ms. Brown said the bureau cannot confirm whether it is examining any other telecoms because the agency is legally required to conduct its investigations confidentially. The existence of an investigation only comes to light under certain circumstances, for instance when it is made public through a court filing, she noted.

“To clarify, this investigation is completely unrelated to the Rogers-Shaw merger review and litigation,” Ms. Brown said. “We commenced our investigation into Rogers’ marketing claims in March, 2022. The bureau did not file the application to block Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw until May, 2022.”

In 2016, the watchdog took enforcement action against independent telecom provider Comwave Networks Inc. for making what the agency concluded were false or misleading representations in the marketing of its internet and home phone services.

According to the bureau, Comwave misrepresented its home phone and internet services as “unlimited” despite monthly caps on usage. The telecom was ordered to pay a $300,000 penalty as well as $60,000 toward the costs of the investigation.

The following year, the watchdog published guidance that warned telecoms against making claims about unlimited service and then relying on qualifying language in disclaimers to alter the meaning of those claims.

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Tickers mentioned in this story

Study and track financial data on any traded entity: click to open the full quote page. Data updated as of 26/02/24 4:00pm EST.

SymbolName% changeLast
RCI-B-T
Rogers Communications Inc Cl B NV
-1.67%60.83
BCE-T
BCE Inc
-0.87%50.32
T-T
Telus Corp
-1.97%23.84

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