Rogers Communications is counting on its new Ignite TV initiative to do more than fuel fresh video growth in Canada. It's also betting on the Ignite brand to drive further broadband growth.
Rogers has so far rolled out the cloud-based Ignite TV offering in the provinces of Ontario and Newfoundland and plans to extend the X1-syndicated service to New Brunswick this summer. The cableco is also gearing up to improve the home WiFi networking experience for customers. Rogers introduced a next-gen WiFi management device, Ignite WiFi Hub, last month and plans to follow up soon with more powerful WiFi extenders in customers' homes.
Like Ignite TV, the new home WiFi devices are syndicated versions of products originally developed by Comcast, in this case, the xFi home networking management platform that the US MSO is now deploying throughout its regions.
"We're very excited about the Ignite roadmap and what's coming around the corner," said Rogers President and CEO Joe Natale. "As a result, there's some really interesting stuff coming."
With its 1 Gig service now available virtually throughout its 4.4 million-home footprint thanks to its rollout of DOCSIS 3.1, Rogers is especially focused on improving the in-home networking experience.
"What we really see from customers more than anything else is they want internet reliability," Natale said, noting that the operator now monitors 2.5 million WiFi devices daily to ensure customers have "a terrific" in-home experience. "They want Internet and WiFi that works, and works well."
Even though its broadband sub base is still growing at a healthy clip, Rogers could use a little lift on that side of the business. The operator netted 22,000 data subscribers in the second quarter, down slightly from 23,000 a year ago, to close out June with nearly 2.47 million subs. Internet revenues fared much better, climbing 7% to C$573 million, thanks to price hikes and subs upgrading to higher-priced speed tiers.
With 16 straight quarters of broadband sub growth behind it, Rogers has now signed up an impressive 57% of its homes passed for high-speed Internet service, Natale noted. But, in spite of greater competition from Bell Canada and FTTH players, he still sees room for further growth, especially once Rogers fully deploys its next-gen WiFi equipment and services.
"We're now sitting at 57% penetration across our footprint of 4.4 million homes and businesses passed, and those numbers are holding up, whether it's in a competitor's fiber territory or not," he said. "It's holding up in condo buildings in downtown Toronto, it's holding up in suburban parts of Canada, it's holding up in more sparsely populated parts of Canada where we have a footprint and operations as a whole."
For more on Ignite TV and Rogers' second-quarter earnings performance, please visit our sister site, Light Reading. (See Rogers' Ignite TV Not Yet Taking Off .)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading