“The next 12 or 24 months will define and dictate the future of digital evolution in Canada. We have an opportunity to lead in that area. More than ever, it’s a critical time for us to step up and create the environment.”

Joe Natale

As published by Rogers.

Rogers investments help fuel Canada’s economic prosperity and drive innovation – and as the country gets ready for 5G, we need public policy that spurs growth and incents Canadian companies with a track record of investing.

That was a key message delivered by Rogers CEO Joe Natale in a speech to shareholders at the company’s Annual General Meeting in Toronto on Thursday. Reflecting on the role the communications industry plays in shaping our society and economy, Natale traced Rogers contributions to Canada to our founder, Ted Rogers.

“At the age of 27, Ted started our company with one radio station. It is from these modest beginnings that Rogers grew to become a great Canadian company, and Ted a great Canadian entrepreneur. But Ted built more than a great company. He built a foundation—a foundation upon which other great companies, and other great industries, were built,” Natale said.

“From mining and manufacturing, to agriculture and automotive – today, more than ever, entire industries rely on our networks — to serve their customers, to grow their businesses, to help our country thrive.”

Last year alone, Rogers economic footprint in Canada totaled $20.4 billion, Natale said, citing the main finding of a new PwC study commissioned by Rogers.

In wireless alone, we have invested over $30 billion over the past 35 years. “Making strategic bets. For the first 25 years, we didn’t make any cash profit. We didn’t make one single penny. Yet this investment propelled Canada through the wireless revolution,” said Natale. “It fuelled the transformation of entire sectors and industries — from education, to e-commerce, to energy — our networks have fuelled virtually every industry you can think of.”

Today, Canada has the second fastest wireless network in the world – twice as fast as the U.S., with LTE covering 99% of Canadians.

“As we enter the world of 5G, it is more critical than ever, to invest. And it is more critical for Canada to invest given our sheer land mass and sparse population.”

“As a country, we need to spend significantly more than other G7 countries to lead the world. Looking at the G7, you could fit 5 Germanys into Canada — plus 5 Japans, 5 Frances, 5 Italys and 5 United Kingdoms — and Canada would still be bigger!”

“We need the right regulation and the right partnership with government,” he said. “Regulation will never be a substitution for innovation. At its best, it is a key to unlock Canada’s digital future. At its worst, it is a barrier that stops innovation and investment in its tracks.”

“In some markets the government backs companies that ride on the networks of other carriers, at a vastly discounted price. Companies who don’t invest in their country’s national infrastructure. This approach suppresses investment, it stifles innovation, and it sabotages network quality. In short, it stalls a nation’s economic prosperity.”

“Canada is at a crossroads — with an ambitious innovation agenda and a vision to lead in the digital economy — we want to help make this vision a reality. As a nation we need policy that spurs growth and innovation. We need policy that incents Canadian companies with a track record of investing. We need policy that ensures Canada can compete with global players. We need policy that supports one of our nation’s most precious resources…our network technology”, said Natale.

“We owe it to our country, we owe it to our customers, to get it right.”