Rogers chief technology officer Jorge Fernandes introduces THINKLab, its proposed National Centre of Technology and Engineering Excellence, in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Rogers to bring 500 jobs to Calgary with national technology centre

Rogers to bring 500 jobs to Calgary with national technology centre

Rogers Communications Inc. said Thursday that it will bring 500 jobs to Calgary with a new national technology centre that it intends to establish following the close of the company’s proposed merger with Shaw Communications Inc.

The centre, to be called Rogers THINKLab, will be located at Shaw’s Barlow campus in Northeast Calgary, the Toronto-based telecom giant said.

The job roles will largely be in engineering and technical delivery across networks, with an emphasis in areas like 5G, fibre technology, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

The goal of the centre is to help foster made-in-Canada technology solutions and build a pipeline for high-skilled talent to stay and work in Canada, the company said.

This move is part of the company’s $6.5 billion commitment to invest in Western Canada first announced back in March 2021 as part of the Roger’s $26-billion deal to acquire Shaw.

Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Rogers and the person who will head the centre, said in an interview the initial focus is to solidify Rogers’ presence in Western Canada and strengthen the region’s technology ecosystem. Eventually, Fendandes hopes the centre will have national impact.

Dean Prevost, president of integration at Rogers, said in the same interview that THINKLab builds on Rogers’ national investment in 5G research and development, including strategic partnerships with institutions like universities and innovation hub Communitech.

“It gives us a place to pull all of that work that’s been done nationwide into a single place to see what we can do with it from a broader perspective via commercialization, via use of technology,” he said.

He also said that it will give the company the opportunity and ability to collaborate with smaller firms and businesses in the city that are doing similar work in technology.

“We can help enable what they’re trying to do and they us as well,” he said.

Calgary will lose Shaw’s head office with the closing of this deal, but Rogers has vowed to retain a Western Canada headquarters in the city and said it will be located at Shaw Court in downtown Calgary.

“We’re not taking away, we’re actually adding to in quite a dramatic way,” Prevost said.

“Rogers’ THINKLab is a vote of confidence in Alberta and showcases our strengths as an innovative province,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement. “These 500 new engineering and IT jobs will build on our momentum as a global destination for investment and jobs in our flourishing technology sector.”

Rogers and Shaw are awaiting regulatory approval from the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), and expect the deal to close by the end of the second quarter.

“We believe very strongly in this deal,” Prevost said, adding that he is confident it will close within this timeframe.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, two consumer advocacy groups filed a petition asking the federal cabinet to “set aside” the CRTC’s decision to approve the transfer of Shaw’s broadcast services to Rogers, arguing that it will lead to “significant price increases” for television services.

Another variable in this saga is the sale of Freedom Mobile’s assets, which is expected to be a regulatory requirement for the takeover.

Anthony Lacavera of Globalive Capital who founded Freedom, previously called Wind Mobile, is hoping to be the acquirer. Quebecor Inc. and Halifax-based telco Eastlink Inc., have also expressed interest in buying the wireless carrier.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B)

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press