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INDU Committee - Joe Natale Remarks

March 29, 2021

Thank you, Brad. Bonjour tout le monde.

Good Morning Madame Chair and Members of the Committee. Honorables deputés.

My name is Joe Natale, and I am President and CEO of Rogers Communications. Merci de me donner l’occasion de m’adresser à vous aujourd’hui.

I’m joined by Dean Prevost, President, Connected Home and Rogers for Business and Victoria Smith, Director of Community Partnerships.
As members know, on March 15 we announced the proposed union of Rogers and Shaw.

Both companies were founded more than 50 years ago by two of Canada’s great entrepreneurs: Ted Rogers and JR Shaw. They were pioneers who shared a commitment to innovation and to building a better Canada…and today those commitments are deeply reflected in the culture of both companies.

Canada’s networks are among the world’s best — a fact that has served us well during the pandemic as Canadians and businesses were able to quickly pivot to an online world. But we didn’t get there by accident. It is a result of billions of dollars of investment from Rogers, our industry and government partners.

Canada must now take the next step to secure our position as a global technology leader and ensure our long-term economic competitiveness. Le moment est venu de passer à l’étape suivante. That requires new, multi-billion dollar, generational investments.

Together, Rogers and Shaw are committed to building this future for Canadians. By coming together, we will accelerate the delivery of critical 5G service and create a new coast-to-coast Internet provider, combining Rogers and Shaw’s operational expertise and quality assets. This will increase competition and continue the current downward trend in prices, while network performance capabilities, and coverage dramatically improve.
A recent study using Stats Can data showed wireless prices dropped 25% since 2016. The broader rollout of 5G networks will continue this positive trend.

The combined company, with our complementary networks, will deliver 5G services much more quickly and more widely than either company could achieve on its own. The new national fibre network will enable stronger competition and greater scale for large enterprise and government customers, which is needed for Canada’s competitive position.

Upgrading our digital infrastructure and accelerating digitization is critical for us to remain competitive. It will create jobs, diversify our economy, strengthen our innovation sector and fuel Canada’s economic recovery.

Investment in Canada will increase through this combination. It has to. In order to keep pace with consumer, educational and business demand for speed and capacity, the pace for investment is accelerating. Today, both companies invest billions of dollars annually in our networks, and the underlying investment in 5G will only go higher as this technology continues to rollout across the country. This is a big task for both companies, but the combined company will be up for the challenge.

This transaction comes at a critical time for the West. As part of the transaction, Rogers is committing to investing $2.5 billion to build 5G networks in Western Canada, which will enhance Western competitiveness, offer consumers and businesses more choice and improved services, and help close the digital divide between urban and rural communities faster.

These investments will create up to 3,000 net new jobs across Western Canada, including 500 jobs at a new National Centre of Technology and Engineering Excellence in Calgary.

Today, there are 2 million households in Canada that don’t have access to high-speed Internet. As part of our growing investments, Rogers will commit an additional $1 billion to create the new Rogers Rural and Indigenous Connectivity Fund dedicated to connecting underserved communities across Western Canada. The opportunity to learn online or participate in the digital economy should not be decided by your postal code.

As part of this process, we will consult with Indigenous communities to help create new Indigenous-owned and operated Internet Service Providers to leverage our expanded networks and create sustainable local connectivity solutions.

Finally, we will extend our Connected for Success program nationally — delivering low-cost, high-speed broadband to low-income Canadians including seniors receiving guaranteed income supplements, residents in rent-geared-to-income housing, and individuals receiving disability benefits…anywhere our combined company offers Internet services.

In summary, we are committed to doing our part to set the table for future generations of Canadians, and prepare us for our digital future. This transaction comes at a significant inflection point for Canada and is critical to enabling the investments needed to make national 5G a reality and close the digital divide. Ensemble, nous allons bâtir un Canada meilleur.

Thank you for your time.