|Founded||February 4, 1983|
Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien
|Key people||Robert Bruce, President|
|Products||iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone|
|Services||LTE, UMTS (including HSPA), GSM (including SMS, GPRS, and EDGE)|
|Revenue||$7.3 billion CAD (2013)|
|Owner(s)||Rogers Communications, Inc.|
Rogers Wireless is a Canadian wireless telephone company headquartered in Toronto, providing service nationally throughout Canada. It is Canada’s largest wireless carrier, with 9.5 million subscribers as of Q4 2013, and revenues of just under $7.3 billion in 2013. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rogers Communications.
Rogers Wireless was founded by David Margolese, Ted Rogers, Marc Belzberg and Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien. In 1978, future Sirius XM Radio founder David Margolese dropped out of college and founded the paging company Canadian Telecom. Foreseeing that cellular wireless technology would be used for more than simply voice calls, Margolese proposed a plan to obtain a license for Canada’s cellular phone rights. At the time, there were no such licenses or commercial cellular services in existence, as the wireless technology was still in the laboratory and experimental. Needing significant financing, he approached Rogers Communications, which was owned by Ted Rogers, to partner with him. Rogers ultimately joined with Margolese, Marc Belzberg of First City Financial and Telemedia founder Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien to form Cantel, which Margolese named after Canadian Telecom. In 1984, the group was granted Canada’s national cellular license. Cantel launched service on July 1, 1985. That day, the first official wireless call on Cantel’s network was made by Art Eggleton, then Mayor of Toronto, to Jean Drapeau, then Mayor of Montreal.
In 1986, Ted Rogers purchased a controlling stake in Cantel, which was at the time Canada’s only national supplier of cellular telephone service. Over the next four years, Rogers bought out his partners, becoming the sole owner of Cantel. Cantel was later renamed Cantel AT&T, Rogers Cantel AT&T and Rogers AT&T Wireless; in December 2003, the company became known by its current name, Rogers Wireless, which led to Rogers purchasing AT&T’s 34% stake in the company for $1.8 billion the following year.
Rogers operates three different kinds of networks in Canada. They offer a GSM network and a faster HSPA+ network from coast to coast. Additionally, Rogers developed and became the first Canadian telecom operator to launch a commercial long-term evolution (LTE) network when it turned on the new service in July 2011.
Since 2002, the company's 2G GSM network with EDGE has served the Canadian population from coast to coast. It provides compatibility for GSM-based devices, including those frequently used by international travelers. However, this technology is limited to speeds of 120 kilobits per second, which is only twice the speed of dial-up. The 120kbit/s only applies to handsets that are 3G capable; full 236.8kbit/s is offered to GSM/EDGE-only devices.
In addition to its GSM network, in 2006 Rogers became the first Canadian carrier to operate a 3G HSPA network, which was upgraded to HSPA+ in 2009. Enhancements included download speeds of up to a theoretical 21 Mbit/s.
Rogers' HSPA+ network coverage is in all Canadian provinces and none of the territories and operating on 850 MHz. Rogers' HSPA+ network coverage in Saskatchewan is limited to Regina and Saskatoon, and is otherwise only covered by its GSM network.
It is impossible to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts in Canada without encountering a gap in cellular coverage as there are areas lacking cellular coverage in both British Columbia and Ontario.
Rogers launched the LTE network in Ottawa, Ontario, the first such network in Canada, on July 7, 2011, before expanding to other regions. The 4G network had speeds four to five times faster than those available from other Canadian providers. Rogers has also deployed LTE service on the faster 2600 MHz spectrum in some markets, which the company began marketing as LTE Max beginning in May 2013. As of May 2013, theoretical maximum download speeds for the network are 150 Mbit/s, although typical download speeds range from 12 to 25 Mbit/s, with peaks close to 50 Mbit/s. Most LTE Internet modems are available with maximum theoretical download speeds of 100 Mbit/s. Both LTE and LTE Max are available in select regions, with LTE Max service available in a smaller number of regions. On April 17, 2014 the company announced commercial LTE service of the acquired 700 MHz for Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
On Demand Mobile
Customers with select smartphones, tablets, computers, LG Smart TVs and Xbox 360 gaming systems can use the Rogers On Demand mobile service, which was renamed Rogers Live before its current incarnation, Rogers Anyplace TV. Rogers Anyplace TV offers TV shows, movies and sports on demand.
In 2004, Rogers bought Canada’s first and, at the time, only other GSM provider, Fido, along with Fido’s partner, Sprint Canada, for a total of $1.4 billion. At the time, Fido had nearly 1.3 million customers. In 2008, Fido was rebranded as a discount network operator with a new logo and cheaper plans.
In mid-2010, in response to the emergence of several new phone carriers, Rogers released Chatr Wireless, a discount brand aimed to directly compete with the new carriers in their coverage areas. Chatr became a cheaper option than Fido, making Fido more of a mid-range offering.
Rogers has its own corporate retail stores, known as Rogers Plus, and also allows third parties to become exclusive dealers. Best Buy, Future Shop and Walmart stores in Canada provide Fido products along with prepaid and postpaid services. Additionally, Loblaw Companies stores sell prepaid feature phones and top-up vouchers. Loblaw stores have a special booth, called The Mobile Shop, where the phones are displayed.
While Shoppers Drug Mart carried only Rogers Wireless prepaid phones at one time, the stores temporarily partnered with Rogers. As a result, Shoppers stores added both prepaid and postpaid products and services for Rogers and its two other brands, Fido and Chatr. As of March 2011, however, Shoppers stores ended their partnership. They only sell prepaid top-up vouchers for these providers.
Text messaging charges
On July 7, 2009, Rogers Wireless began charging a nominal fee for incoming text messages to customers without a text messaging plan. The change was similar to policies of charging for incoming text message that were adopted in August 2008 by Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility. Some users complained that Rogers had unilaterally changed the terms of their contracts. The company maintained that changes to services and fees are permitted in the "terms of service" document.
Government Regulatory Recovery Fee
Rogers has been criticized for its Government Regulatory Recovery Fee (GRRF), formerly known as the System Access Fee (SAF). The fee ranges between $1.93 to $3.35 per month. On July 4, 2012, Rogers announced it would no longer be charging a separate GRRF fee to new customers, instead raising the price of the Monthly Service Charge. The bills of existing customers would remain the same. An $18 billion class action lawsuit against Rogers, Bell and Telus, originally filed in a Saskatchewan court in 2004 regarding these fees, is pending.
Rogers launched the Chatr brand with low-end feature phones and pricing plans similar to that of new entrants such as Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile. Chatr was criticized for being a fighter brand created by Rogers. The brand's "fewer dropped calls" claim was disputed by the Competition Bureau. In 2013, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Chatr's advertising of fewer dropped calls, in connection with its 2010 launch, was fair and accurate.
- Caroline Van Hasselt, High Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire That Debt Built, Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons, 2008, chapter 12.
- Rogers Communications Reports Fourth Quarter 2013 Results
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- Bethany McLean, “Satellite Killed the Radio Star,” Fortune, January 22, 2001.
- Van Hasselt, High Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire That Debt Built, chapter 12, p. 223.
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- Rogers LTE Network | The New Speed of Life | Rogers
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- Ian Hardy, “Rogers to release a Rogers on Demand app for tablets,” Mobile Syrup, September 9, 2011.
- John Shmuel, “The short history of telecom startups in Canada,” Financial Post, May 18, 2013.
- Sean Cooper, “Fido’s rebrand complete, yellow figures prominently,” Engadget, November 4, 2008.
- Jeff Gray, “Rogers violated false-advertising rules with ‘fewest dropped-call’ claims, court hears,” The Globe and Mail, May 13, 2013.
- Ian Hardy, “Rogers re-branding all Chatr Wireless kiosks in Montreal to Fido,” Mobile Syrup, May 7, 2012.
- “Rogers Wireless to charge for incoming text messages for user not in plans,” tmcnet.com, May 5, 2009.
- Kathy Tomlinson, “Rogers charges for ‘free’ text messages,” CBC News, December 15, 2009.
- Ian Hardy, “Rogers says new customers will not pay the GRRF, but charges will be rolled into the Monthly Service Fee,” Mobile Syrup, July 4, 2012.
- Jamie Sturgeon, “Canada’s telecom giants face $18-billion class action suit over system access fees,” Financial Post, June 28, 2012.
- "Ruling backing Rogers's dropped-call ads for Chatr questioned," CBC News, August 21, 2013.