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The bureau is calling for a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) policy that would require the Big Three to sell access to regional carriers like Freedom Mobile and Vidéotron, as part of a 51-page submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The sale requirement would be temporary and contingent on regional carriers expanding their own networks. The bureau is also calling for a reduction in roaming rates, and tower-sharing and site-access rules that would benefit smaller carriers. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The most significant ask from the bureau was echoed in the platform of the recently re-elected Liberal Party. Both want MVNOs to become a bigger part of Canada’s wireless landscape. There’s another powerful group pushing for the same thing: in July, my colleague Murad broke the news that Google was asking Ottawa to make it easier to expand MVNOs in Canada. The company already runs one, Google Fi, in the United States. Rogers, Bell, Telus and Shaw have all opposed widespread MVNO rollouts in their own recent submissions to the CRTC; the telecoms will now have until March 23, 2020 to submit to the CRTC again and challenge the Competition Bureau’s proposed regulatory framework. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they wanted to work with telecoms for two years and then step in if prices don’t go down enough. The bureau is offering the Liberals a path forward for how to do the latter.

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The telecommunications firm cut its earnings and revenue guidance after one million Canadians signed up for unlimited data plans, on which Rogers does not charge overage fees. Rogers CEO Joe Natale said the unlimited plans will affect results for the next few quarters. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the biggest drop in Rogers stock in almost four years. The decline is partially due to missing analyst expectations—it was off 12 cents per share compared with average analyst estimates—but the financials reported Wednesday are only a part of the problem. Rogers is in the midst of a court fight seeking to keep charging smaller telecoms higher prices. If it loses, that will cut further into revenue. The company could also face fresh competition if the federal government makes it easier to set up a rival telecom, something the newly re-elected Liberals promised to do. Neither of these challenges are exclusive to Rogers, nor is the potential for unlimited plans’ popularity to affect the bottom line. Bell and Telus, which introduced similar plans, are each down over four per cent on the news.

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Rogers said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s ruling—which reduced the rates small internet providers must pay large ones like Rogers by 15 to 43 per cent—will cost the company about $140 million and force it to review its investments in rural and remote communities. Cogeco said the decision will cost it about $25 million. The statements come on the heels of a similar one from Bell yesterday, which said it will cut its rural broadband development plan by 20 per cent as a result of the ruling. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The telecom giants claim the ruling eats into their funds to develop rural internet infrastructure. Each statement points to a recent Competition Bureau Market study, which found that smaller internet providers have achieved an excess of 20 per cent market share in and around cities they are based. While the study warned that large players may be de-incentivized to develop infrastructure if wholesale rates are set too low, it did not specify what those rates should be. It also said that if wholesale rates are too high, smaller players cannot bring competitive pricing to the marketplace. Smaller providers like TekSavvy have argued that larger providers “grossly inflate” wholesale rates; the CRTC ruling similarly justified its rate cut, arguing that providers like Bell did not provide sufficient evidence to justify its proposed costs for expanding its infrastructure.

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Jordan Banks will take over as president of the division from the retiring Rick Brace on September 9. Rogers Media owns several TV channels—including Sportsnet and CityTV—as well as 56 radio stations in five provinces and the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. Banks will be tasked with “driving growth across sports and local in a digital world,” according to a company statement. He announced his departure as Facebook Canada’s managing director in May 2017. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Banks has never worked for a major broadcaster, but he was the CEO of JumpTV, a sports internet TV company, between October 2007 and June 2008. Rogers Media is increasingly focused on sports following the March sale of its magazine titles. Banks takes over amid a challenging year for the division, and as Canada’s digital sports-media space becomes increasingly crowded. Excluding the publishing business, Rogers Media’s revenue has been flat for the last two quarters, and in June it laid off an unspecified number of off-air staff at Sportsnet. Rogers’ sports subscription revenue increased for five of the last six quarters, but the company doesn’t break out numbers for Sportsnet Now, the streaming service it launched in March 2016. Rival Bell Media’s TSN digital offering is growing, while DAZN has digital rights to the NFL in Canada and will take over English soccer from TSN and Sportsnet starting next month. And, on Friday, LeBron James will launch his Uninterrupted multimedia brand in Canada, to be led by former Sportsnet president Scott Moore.

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The company’s revenue is also down from the same period last year. Shares dropped on the news in early trading on Tuesday, and were down almost one per cent at publication time. Revenue at its wireless division is up one per cent. (Toronto Star, MobileSyrup)

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Talking point: Rogers, Bell and Telus have faced increased competition from rivals like Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, which gained 37 per cent of all new postpaid subscribers between the four firms in the first quarter of 2019. In the same period, Rogers’ share of those new subscribers dropped from 35 per cent to 13 per cent. To compete, it added new wireless data pricing options that don’t charge overage fees, for which 365,000 subscribers have signed up, including two-thirds who opted for higher-priced plans then they had previously. Telus and Bell have since followed suit.

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Rogers and Communitech will use the money to open an innovation lab in Kitchener-Waterloo. The lab will develop and launch a range of 5G technology, including for smart cities and internet-of-things for Canadian applications. (The Logic)

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Talking Point: In May, The Logic broke the news that Communitech had lost a third of its funding from the province, forcing it to cut about $2.2 million from its annual budget and lay off 15 of its 105 employees. At the time, Communitech CEO Iain Klugman had been increasingly shifting away from government to private funding. Wednesday’s announcement is the latest indication of that shift. Rogers has recently entered two other major deals to help develop 5G technology ahead of its plan to deploy it commercially in 2020. The company signed a multi-million dollar partnership with the University of British Columbia to build a 5G innovation hub in 2018, and announced a national 5G infrastructure deal with Ericsson the same year. Working with Ericsson, Rogers completed a round of 5G tests in major Canadian cities earlier this year. Rogers is gearing up its investments in 5G while simultaneously seeking a change in federal law that would make it easier to build 5G tech. In May, the company’s vice-chairman, Philip Lind, called for a ban on Canadian companies using Huawei technology for 5G. Such a ban would hit its two major rivals, Bell and Telus, much harder than Rogers. Sarah Schmidt, Rogers director of public affairs said on Wednesday that Lind was speaking in a “personal capacity,” not on behalf of the firm. 

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Bell is offering a $75 monthly plan including up to 10 gigabytes of full-speed data per month; once that’s surpassed, it will offer unlimited data at slower speeds. Telus will charge $75 a month for 15 gigabytes of full-speed data with a standard overage fee. The Bell offer will end June 30; Telus’ will end July 2. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: The moves come as the CRTC plans to hold a hearing on the wireless market in January, where it is expected to encourage lower prices and more competition among carriers. Bell and Rogers’ approach is new for Canada’s Big Three telecoms, which have been slow to adopt so-called “unlimited” data plans relative to their U.S. counterparts. However, though the plans are being advertised as being unlimited, they aren’t quite—in Rogers’ case, after users hit the full-speed data threshold, they will be throttled to 256 Kbps, a significant reduction. Freedom Mobile has been offering a similar “unlimited” plan for a while now in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. It offers 10 gigabytes of full-speed data for $60 a month, with an additional four gigabytes on its own regional network and one gigabyte nationally. The carrier also throttles its download speeds after that to 256 Kbps, though its upload speeds are slower, at 128 Kbps.

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Philip Lind said that although the Chinese tech company provided cheaper and more sophisticated services compared to others, he is concerned about its ties to the Chinese government. He cited the Chinese state’s interest in the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou as proof of the connection. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Rogers is using Ericsson’s tech for its 5G rollout, while Bell and Telus reportedly estimate it would cost them $1 billion to replace Huawei equipment in their networks. That’s money the latter two—which share a network—won’t be able to invest in competing with Rogers. Rogers does, however, do some business with Huawei. The Chinese tech firm is the presenting sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada, the flagship NHL broadcast on its Sportsnet channel. In December 2018, the broadcaster told The Logic it had no plans to change that. Rogers also sells Huawei smartphones and uses some of its network equipment.