Despite a huge unforeseen surge in broadband and video traffic over its networks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers Communications insists that it's holding its own just fine so far.
Rogers, one of Canada's two biggest cable operators, wireless providers and media players, reported on its Q1 earnings call this morning that its network traffic has soared more than 50% since the virus-induced lockdowns went into effect across the nation early last month. In particular, company executives said they're seeing sizable increases in Netflix viewing, video conferencing, YouTube viewing and social media usage.
Yet, even with this unanticipated traffic surge, Rogers officials said their HFC pipes are holding up well. They also said their cable unit's financial metrics are keeping steady as tens of millions of Canadians turn to their broadband and video links for working, learning and socializing from home.
Specifically, Rogers reported Q1 cable revenues of C$973 million ($687 million). That's down just ever so slightly from C$976 million ($689 million) in the same quarter last year.
On their quarterly earnings call this morning, Rogers executives pointed to the offsetting trends that they're seeing so far as their customers cope with the virus' impact. On the one hand, some existing customers are upgrading their pay-TV and especially broadband plans while other consumers are switching to Rogers from other providers. On the other hand, other current Rogers subscribers are downgrading their cable packages as they tighten their belts because of job layoffs and home budget cutbacks.
With DOCSIS 3.1 fully rolled out to its 4.5 million-home footprint and 1-Gig service universally available, Rogers added 17,000 broadband subscribers in Q1, up from 14,000 a year earlier, to boost its customer total to 2.5 million. As a result, it now enjoys an impressive 56% penetration rate for its broadband service.
In a related move, Rogers reported greater progress in converting its pay-TV subscribers over to its new Ignite TV service, which is a syndicated version of Comcast's cloud-based X1 platform. The MSO added 91,000 households to the Ignite TV platform in Q1, up from 47,000 new subs the year before, padding its total to 417,000.
Europe's largest cable operator reports that both upstream and downstream traffic have jumped since the COVID-19 pandemic hit its markets, with the upstream traffic surging 50% and the downstream up over 20%.
With tens of millions of people now sheltering at home throughout the nation, the three biggest publicly traded US MSOs all reported substantially higher broadband subscriber gains in the first quarter.
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