Bell, Rogers slash internet prices in bid to woo customers to faster networks

TORONTO — Two of Canada’s biggest internet providers have slashed prices by about 45 per cent in the Toronto area for their most advanced offerings, but industry observers say such skirmishes are usually short-lived and often very local.

While deep discounts and promotions are common in the internet business, IDC Canada analyst Emily Taylor said carriers are eager to sign up customers to very fast internet services such as one gigabit per second, or 1,000 megabits per second.

“I think that communication service providers are certainly banking and betting on the need for gigabit speeds at individual homes will grow and there will be a dependence on it over time,” she said in an interview.

“I think that speaks to some of the pricing trends that we’re seeing.”

In Toronto, where BCE’s Bell Canada and Rogers Communications are each other’s biggest rivals, both are promoting gigabit services with prices that are dramatically lower than they were a few months ago.

Since June 1, Bell Canada has been offering a gigabit-per-second home internet package with unlimited data for $79.95 in parts of Toronto, down from $149.95, until the end of July.

But Bell doesn’t have the same offer in Montreal, where the rollout of its most advanced fibre network hasn’t progressed as far as in Toronto and its main rival is Quebecor’s Videotron.

“We offer a variety of limited-time promotions throughout the year in different areas of the country. We’ll always be competitive in the marketplace,” Bell said in a statement.

Rogers, by contrast, is offering limited time promotional offers for high speed internet throughout its footprint in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

At the top end of its range, Rogers has dropped the monthly fee to $79.99 for 12 months of gigabit service, from $152.99.

“Customers are looking for fast, reliable internet to keep them connected at home and we regularly have promotions and offers so they can take advantage of Rogers Ignite Internet, with the fastest cable network technology,” Rogers said.

IDC doesn’t track special promotions on a case-by-case basis but Taylor said Bell and Rogers have cut prices on a variety of high-speed services to show consumers what their networks can do and to build long-term loyalty.

“Discounts are really also about winning (market) share in a very saturated market.”

In Western Canada, the main rivalry for home internet customers is between Telus Corp. and Shaw Communications Inc.

Each company has been investing heavily to upgrade their networks with an eye to the future, although market competition has been focused on sub-gigabit services such as 150 megabits per second.

“A direct fibre connection future proofs premises — once the connection is built, we can quickly enhance speeds and capacity as technologies and customer needs evolve,” Telus said in a statement.

Its PureFibre fibre-to-the-home is in 109 communities in British Columbia, Alberta and eastern Quebec — providing access of at least 150 megabits per second and up to gigabit speeds in select communities where it’s conducting market trials..

Shaw said in a statement that customers in 99 per cent of its service area in Western Canada have access to unlimited data and broadband speeds of up to 150 megabits per second.

“With download speeds of up to 150 megabits-per-second, WideOpen Internet 150 gives customers the peace of mind of knowing they can stream, download and browse without penalty for going over monthly data limits.”

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