Seeking to maintain its competitive edge in the Canadian broadband market, Rogers Communications is rolling out 1.5Gbit/s service as it deploys GPON-based fiber in "strategic areas" and preps for DOCSIS 4.0 over its legacy hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network.
Rogers, which has already launched 1-Gig service throughout its broad HFC footprint using DOCSIS 3.1 technology, is now boosting the top downstream speeds of its Ignite Internet service to 1.5 Gbit/s to compete against a similar product from its main rival, Bell Canada (BCE). The telco has made inroads in the broadband market by aggressively building out fiber networks and deploying its own Bell Fibre 1.5-Gig service.
The Canadian broadband leader with more than 2.8 million subscribers after adding another 9,000 subs in Q2, Rogers is aiming to counter Bell's fiber-fueled drive with a mix of DOCSIS over HFC and PON over fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technologies. So the operator, which now passes about 4.6 million Canadian homes, is relying on both GPON over FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1 over HFC to offer higher speeds to customers while also gearing up to offer DOCSIS 4.0 service over its HFC lines once D4.0 equipment is available.
"We continue to make strategic capital investments to enhance the performance of our network and meet the future needs of our customers," Rogers President and CEO Joe Natale said on the company's Q2 earnings call Wednesday, according to a transcript supplied by Seeking Alpha. "We are expanding our GPON-based fiber in strategic areas and continue to upgrade and evolve our DOCSIS 3.1 platform as our cable network evolves to DOCSIS 4.0."
With Rogers now seeking government approval for its plan to purchase Shaw Communications, Natale also highlighted the progress that his company is making in extending broadband service to rural, remote and First Nations regions, as well as other unserved and underserved communities across the nation.
"In the last two years, we have doubled the number of rural and remote communities where we offer reliable Internet," he said. "By the end of 2021, we will reach more than 500,000 households in rural and underserved areas."
Touting the proposed combo with Shaw
As he has on previous earnings calls, Natale also sought to promote Rogers' planned merger with Shaw as a move that would accelerate the expansion of both wired and wireless broadband coverage and close Canada's digital divide. Rogers is hoping to gain regulatory approval of the controversial $20.8 billion deal in the first half of next year.
"From rural and remote communities to urban centers over the past 1.5 years, we've enabled and enhanced connectivity to more than 1,000 communities faster than at any time before in our company's history," Natale said. "And in the second half of this year, we will accelerate the pace of our infrastructure rollout to reach an additional 750 communities. And together with Shaw, we will be able to deliver next-generation connectivity to communities across Western Canada faster than either company could alone, helping to create jobs and attract investment."
On the earnings call, Rogers executives also boasted that they have now extended 5G service to more than 700 communities, reaching over 50% of Canadians. They aim to increase that total to 1,000 communities by the end of the year, giving them 5G coverage of more than 70% of the nation's population. "We're on track to reach 70% of Canadians [with 5G] and we're going to keep going," Natale said.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading