23/09/2020

CEO says move as significant as when Rogers first went into wireless networks 35 years ago

Its a red-letter day for Rogers Communications Inc., as the telecom provider officially turns on its 5G network in downtown areas of Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal. 
But while Rogers says the next-generation wireless network is now up and running, nobody will actually be able to use it for a while, as there arent any devices authorized to use the Rogers network yet.
Officially lighting up the network is a signal to device manufacturers that Rogers is open for business, and ready to work with companies such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. to make sure 5G devices are compatible with network infrastructure.
In a news release Wednesday morning, Rogers chief executive Joe Natale said that the move toward 5G is as significant as when Rogers first went into wireless cellular networks.
5G will not only power businesses, it will fuel entire industries and drive Canadas digital future, Natale said. We were the first with wireless services 35 years ago, and we are once again first to bring this innovative technology to consumers and businesses on Canadas only national network.
The reason that telecom providers are excited about 5G is, essentially, because its much faster. In addition to providing much more bandwidth, allowing faster data transfer, 5G promises to eventually allow for much lower latency, reducing the delay from when you press a button on your phone to the time when the cell network sends a response.
Rogers has managed to get a jump on competitors BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. with the 5G rollout by partnering with Swedish equipment manufacturer Ericsson for its kit. Both Bell and Telus want to use gear from Chinese manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, which is considerably cheaper, but national security experts have raised concerns that the Huawei equipment might create the potential for foreign interference in critical communications systems.
There are already a handful of phones on the market in other parts of the world that offer 5G connectivity, but Rogers says that even if somebody brought one of those phones to Canada, they wont be able to use the Rogers 5G network yet.
Their SIM cards wont be updated until device-makers are ready to sell their products here, and they can engage in a full-scale marketing push for the next-generation network.
Rogers says 5G data plans and a more comprehensive rollout will have to wait until business partnerships are cemented, and companies start selling their phones in Canada later this year. 
For now, the company isnt publishing a map showing the extent of the coverage until later in the year. Rogers has said by the end of 2020 they intend to offer 5G in 20 Canadian markets, but the full rollout will take years.
In its news release announcing the 5G network launch, Rogers said it was joining a partnership with Vodafone Group Plc, Verizon Wireless, KT Corp., Telstra Corp. and América Móvil to discuss 5G issues.
Internationally, Rogers is a founding member of the new 5G Future Forum, which will create a common framework for 5G applications enabled by mobile edge computing across the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, the company said in its news release.
Email: jmcleod@nationalpost.com | Twitter: jamespmcleod