Rogers CEO talks broadband roadmap as board rages on

Rogers Communications CEO Joe Natale described the operator’s plan to fend off fiber-optic broadband competition from rival Bell Canada, highlighting the rollout of a 1.5 Gbps service level and the division of knots as key tools in its arsenal. His comments, however, were largely overshadowed by a high-profile dispute between members of the company’s board of directors.

Speaking on a third quarter earnings conference call, Natale noted that a fiber-to-home offering from rival Bell Canada straddles just under half of Rogers’ cable footprint. Although Rogers already offers 1 Gbps service across its entire 4.5 million household footprint, it has said it is in the process of upgrading “specific areas” to 1.5 Gbps. / s and eventually planned to extend it to its entire coverage area. Shaw Communications, which Rogers is in the process of acquiring, already offers 1.5 Gbps service.

At the same time, he said he was continuing to split the nodes “in areas where we think it makes sense” to increase bandwidth. “Our homes per node are half of what they were four or five years ago,” Natale said, adding that in other areas of his brownfield network he had decided to ignore the divisions of nodes and go directly to GPON. It has also been operating fiber-to-the-home in entirely new markets for eight years, he said.

“So we continue to have a combination of fiber and DOCSIS,” he explained. “We have a lot of tracks with our current infrastructure, a lot of tracks. Our base average is around 300MB of service. Law? And so the route from 300 to 1.5, then DOCSIS 4.0 on the back of it, supported by GPON where it makes sense. We think we have a very good winning formula from this point of view.

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His comments came as Rogers released third quarter results in which cable revenues rose 3% to C $ 1.0 billion, with overall revenues roughly flat at C $ 2.2 billion. and net income down 4% to C $ 490 million. The operator added 12,000 Internet subscribers and its total Internet subscriber base increased to 2.65 million in the quarter.

Kerfuffle board

The operator’s earnings report was largely overshadowed by the board drama that resulted in Edward Rogers being ousted as chairman after his unsuccessful efforts last month to replace the majority of senior executives at the company, including Natale. Bloomberg reported that other board members had rejected his plan, fearing it would disrupt the company’s $ 16 billion deal with Shaw.

On Thursday, the operator named John A. MacDonald as the new chairman of the board. Although Edward Rogers was ousted from his post as chairman, the operator said he would remain on the board as a director of the company.

Edward Rogers is the son of the operator’s founder, Ted Rogers, and is chairman of Rogers Control Trust, an entity that holds voting control over Rogers Communications.

Rogers responded to his impeachment by describing his intention to remove five members of the board, including MacDonald, and replace them with people of his choosing. He said he plans to submit a resolution to the board to make the changes on Friday.

The operator fired back Friday morning, calling the plan “unprecedented”. He added that he had not yet received any documents from Edward Rogers but that “the company will consult with their lawyer regarding the legality of this action plan” when they are submitted.

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