Rogers teases launch of 8 Gbps internet service in 2022

Canada’s multi-gig race is heating up, with Rogers Communications announcing plans to trot out a symmetrical 8 Gbps service tier in the coming months. The news comes two weeks after rival Bell Canada debuted its own multi-gig broadband offer.

Rogers said in a press release the new product is due out this summer, following successful trials both in the lab and with customers in the field. The service, part of its Ignite Internet lineup, will run on its fiber-based network and initially be available in select areas across Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Rogers recently announced plans to spend $200 million to extend fiber to as many as 314,000 locations in New Brunswick, with those customers able to tap into its Ignite Internet offerings once connected.

On the operator’s Q1 2022 earnings call, CEO Tony Staffieri said its excitement about the forthcoming fiber offering doesn’t mean it’s abandoning plans to upgrade the hybrid fiber coaxial portions of its network to DOCSIS 4.0.

“That initiative is working well…but there are many areas where we have complete fiber and in those areas we take advantage of GPON and the capabilities of fiber,” he explained.

Rogers CTO Jorge Fernandes added GPON and DOCSIS are just different tools in its network toolbox, and the choice of which one to use depends on geography, economics and what existing infrastructure is in place. “We're very happy with the progress that we're making on DOCSIS, both in terms of what we have available on DOCSIS 3.1 and also with DOCSIS 4, the speeds that that will provide in the not too distant future. So, essentially what you're seeing is a combination of all these capabilities come to bear on the market,” he stated.

The rollout of an 8-gig service tier will allow Rogers to pull ahead of rivals Telus and Bell Canada in the multi-gig speed race. Earlier this month, the latter trotted out a symmetrical 3 Gbps offering it said provides the “fastest internet speeds of any major provider in Canada.” Bell initially rolled out its so-called pure fiber service across most of Toronto.

That product edged out a symmetrical 2.5 Gbps PureFibre X tier from Telus, which made its debut in June 2021. Telus’ offering was initially launched in Calgary and was extended to communities across Alberta and British Columbia as it expanded its fiber footprint.

Q1 earnings

Rogers reported Q1 revenue of CAD 3.62 billion (approximately $2.9 billion), which was up year on year 4% from CAD 3.49 billion. Net income rose 9% to CAD 392 million ($313.7 million). Wireless revenue of CAD 2.1 billion was up 3% while Cable sales rose 2% to CAD 1 billion and Media revenue jumped 10% to CAD 482 million.

The operator’s Cable segment added 129,000 homes passed in the quarter, raising its total to 4.7 million. It gained 5,000 cable customers, down slightly from 6,000 net additions in Q1 2021. Retail internet net additions totaled 13,000.

Citing a strong outlook, Rogers raised its guidance for the full year 2022. It predicted total service revenue growth of between 6% and 8%, up from a previous forecast of 4% to 6%. It also bumped up its free cash flow figure to a range of CAD 1.9 billion to 2.1 billion, compared to an earlier estimate of CAD 1.8 billion to 2.0 billion.