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Rogers 'pleased' with VoIP rollout

Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:00pm

Copyright 2005 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.

The Toronto Star

September 14, 2005 Wednesday

Andrew Flynn, Canadian Press

From Lexis Nexis

After just two months in the (IP-based) phone business, Rogers Communications Inc. is happy with customer response so far, the president of the company's cable TV unit said yesterday.

"We're pleased with the results that we're seeing," Edward Rogers Jr. told BMO Nesbitt Burns's annual media and telecommunications conference in Toronto. "There are a lot of customers that are thrilled to have a choice out there ... where a company can go into the home, replace the product with the same product that they had, offer them the same grade of service ... and have an existing billing relationship with that customer."

As with a number of electronic media companies that have entered the nascent voice-over-Internet phone market, Rogers has found customer demand for stability and bundling - packages that include a discount when subscribers take a number of services such as cable TV, Internet and wireless.

"You see it from customers, where they commit to the company, that they would like to be valued for the business that they're giving us," the president of Rogers Cable said.

In addition to value pricing, customers "want a true land-line product where the service will work if the power's out, where there's a company that stands behind that product and a real alternative to the land-line quality that Bell offers. And that's where we're concentrating our efforts today."

Bell Canada, the country's biggest telephone company, rolled out a major portion of its Internet-protocol telecom service last week.

Bell Digital Voice, which doesn't need a home Internet connection, is already available in some cities and will be introduced in more communities across Ontario and Quebec.

The service is available at $40 a month, including unlimited local calling and an array of calling features, with no contract required.

The Rogers service costs $29.95 monthly plus long-distance charges for basic digital phone service in Toronto. Bundled customers will pay $25.46 plus long distance.

Pierre Francoeur, president and chief operating officer of Quebecor Media, said his firm is also relying on service bundles to woo customers over to VoIP.

"We were able to bundle our offers for the existing clients," Francoeur told the conference. "It was quite attractive (for a customer) to talk to one guy and to just add a new product, a new feature.

"The (fact) that we have for the rest of our products a very good offer ... nobody's capable of matching it. It's very interesting for somebody to call us (saying): 'Yeah, maybe IP telephony but what about the rest of your offer and if I can have a very good price?' Bingo, the guy is signed up."

The conference, which heard a variety of speakers on media and telecommunications, continues today. Rogers Cable president Edward Rogers Jr. says customers like the company's bundled services.

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