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Rogers teams with Vodafone in push for greater global presence

Guy Laurence, CEO of Roger,s held a media briefing at the companies head office in Toronto on May 23, 2014.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Rogers Communications Inc. has signed a deal with multinational wireless carrier Vodafone Group PLC that it hopes will help it win international business customers.

The agreement, announced Tuesday, means Rogers will be Vodafone's exclusive partner in Canada as part of a program the U.K.-based carrier operates in almost 50 countries.

It also signals a cozier relationship between the two operators after Guy Laurence left his post as the head of Vodafone's U.K. business to take over as Rogers' chief executive officer last December.

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The arrangement gives Rogers access to Vodafone's expertise in areas such as rolling out fourth-generation or LTE coverage and will include joint marketing activities that could win over multinational enterprise customers of Vodafone with a presence in Canada.

No financial terms were announced Tuesday but Vodafone spokesman Simon Gordon said Rogers will pay an undisclosed fee to participate in the "partner market" program.

"[Rogers] can also tap into our buying power," he said, noting that as a global operator, Vodafone is able to command discounts on both handsets and network equipment, and Rogers will be able to take advantage of that.

Mr. Gordon said Rogers is already Vodafone's preferred roaming partner in Canada, meaning that when Vodafone customers from abroad use their mobile devices in Canada they initially roam on Rogers' network and move on to other carriers when outside its coverage area.

"There is also a unique growth opportunity for our enterprise business through the agreement," Rogers spokeswoman Allison Fitton said in an e-mail. "This agreement allows us to work with carriers around the world with the same global customer."

Vodafone does not disclose how many customers roam in Canada but Mr. Gordon said the largest number come from the U.K. as well as Germany, Spain and Italy, where it also has a large presence. Outside Europe, India, South Africa and Australia are significant markets for the carrier.

Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity, said protecting the revenue Rogers earns from Vodafone on roaming would be a plus as it has lost international roaming market share to Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. since its two rivals launched a joint HSPA network in 2009 that allowed for roaming on the globally-popular GSM standard.

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"We view a defence of Vodafone roaming revenues and new Rogers CEO Guy Laurence exploiting his relationaship with his previous employer Vodafone as a positive," Mr. Ghose said, adding that while the deal was encouraging, it was not clear how much of an impact it would have.

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About the Author
Telecom Reporter

Christine Dobby covers the Canadian telecom industry for The Globe and Mail. Before joining the Globe in May 2014 she reported for the Financial Post for three years, most recently writing about telecom and media. She has also reported for the Toronto Star and New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. More


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