Rogers & Bell Partner for National Wireless Broadband Network

Toronto, ON & Montreal, QC, September 16, 2005: Rogers Communications and Bell Canada today announced an agreement to jointly build and manage a Canada-wide wireless broadband network, expected to initially reach more than two-thirds of Canadians in less than three years. The companies say they will pool their wireless broadband spectrum holdings into a joint venture, Inukshuk Internet Inc., which will build and operate the network. 

"The promise of wireless broadband is here, and Bell and Rogers have the expertise, resources, and commitment to make it happen," said Bob Berner, Chief Technology Officer, Rogers Communications. "This is a powerful tool for Canadian businesses and consumers, both of whom will benefit from the substantially increased and accelerated competition the network will bring." 

Inukshuk will be the network services provider to Rogers and Bell and their subsidiaries, and will operate on a cost recovery basis. The arrangement, says the firms, will allow the companies to minimize costs and maximize wireless broadband network coverage by pooling their spectrum holdings and leveraging both companies' existing wireless tower and network transport infrastructures.   

The services will be portable, allowing subscribers to access the Internet and use a host of voice, video streaming, and data applications from wherever the service is available. Bell and Rogers will compete in the marketing and delivery of applications and services to end-customers over the network, ensuring healthy competition and consumer choice.   

"This is an efficient, effective, and responsible approach to getting more high speed Internet services to more Canadians more quickly," added Stephen Wetmore, Group President National Markets, Bell Canada. "Wireless broadband offers exciting opportunities for the delivery of these services, particularly for many of those living in unserved and remote communities." 

Inukshuk will be owned and controlled equally by Rogers and Bell, and will plan, design, build, operate and maintain a Canada-wide wireless broadband telecommunications network. Bell and Rogers will each have the right to use 50 per cent of the network's total transmission capacity. Sales, marketing, end-user customer care, and billing functions will be provided directly by Rogers and Bell to their respective customers. 

The companies will jointly and equally fund the initial network deployment costs estimated at $200 million over a three-year period, completing a network footprint that will cover over 40 cities and approximately 50 unserved rural and remote communities across Canada. Inukshuk expects to negotiate a roaming agreement with US-based Clearwire Corp., building a similar wireless broadband network, allowing Rogers and Bell to offer customers access to an extensive Canada-U.S. wireless broadband footprint. Inukshuk plans to continue to use network equipment manufactured by NextNet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clearwire Corp. 

"This agreement will keep Canada at the leading edge of next generation technologies," Wetmore continued. "It also supports the Government of Canada's rural broadband objectives." 

Rogers currently controls and will contribute to the joint venture its entire broadband wireless spectrum in the 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequency ranges. Bell controls and will contribute to the joint venture all of its broadband wireless spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequency ranges.   

Separately, Bell has reached an agreement with companies controlled directly or indirectly by Craig McCaw under which Bell will acquire the remaining 50 per cent of NR Communications that it does not already own. NR Communications and a subsidiary of Rogers are the two partners in the current Inukshuk joint venture which holds approximately 98 MHz of wireless broadband spectrum in the 2.5 GHz frequency range across much of Canada. 

Spectrum transfer approvals from Industry Canada, completion of Bell's acquisition of Craig McCaw's interest in NR Communications, and other customary closing conditions are expected to be straightforward. 

Posted: 9/16/2005 11:10:13 AM