Rogers Closes Shaw Takeover ⇥ theglobeandmail.com
Rogers Communications Inc. announced today it has completed its historic merger with Shaw Communications Inc.
Alexandra Posadzki, the Globe and Mail:
Rogers has made a number of commitments to the federal government in connection with the deal, encoding them in written undertakings that impose penalties if the promises are not met.
Those commitments include a previously announced promise that it will spend $1-billion within five years to expand high-speed internet and 5G in areas where that connectivity is not currently available. The telecom has also pledged to create 3,000 new jobs in Western Canada within five years, to maintain a Calgary headquarters for at least 10 years, and to invest $2.5-billion to expand 5G coverage in Western Canada and $3-billion in other network service expansion projects. Rogers has agreed to pay $100-million for every year in which it fails to meet any of its commitments, up to $1-billion.
Am I supposed to be impressed by a $5.5 billion commitment to investing in expanding 5G service? In 2022, Rogers reported over $3 billion (PDF) in capital expenditures, and Shaw said it spent over $1 billion (PDF). Is this $5.5 billion above and beyond what it would have otherwise spent to grow its networks in the most obvious and logical way? Meanwhile, the CEO of Globalive — which created WIND Mobile, later sold to Shaw and rebranded Freedom Mobile, and as of today sold to Videotron as a condition of this merger — is predicting significant layoffs, contrary to the optimistic employment commitment from Rogers.
Sadly, it appears regulators did not have much choice but to approve this merger. Freedom Mobile was the only meaningful competition between the two companies, so its sale sealed the deal. That is too bad. Canadians deserve better choices than these thuggish companies, Bell and Telus inclusive. If that $5.5 billion investment commitment really is in addition to the amount both companies would already be spending, it indicates the Canadian telecom landscape is nowhere near strong enough as neither company is working its hardest to provide the best service or lowest prices.
And if it is impractical to expect more competitive offerings across the vast landscape that is our country, nationalize these businesses. That is the kind of thing Crown corporations are for.