(Adds comment from Bell, industry data)
By Moira Warburton
TORONTO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc said on Wednesday it has started rolling out the fifth-generation (5G) telecoms network in some Canadian cities, becoming the country’s first cellphone provider to offer the super-fast telecom services.
Rogers, one of Canada’s largest wireless carriers, will launch first in downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, before expanding into over 20 more markets by the end of the year, in advance of 5G-enabled devices becoming available this year, the statement added.
“5G is the biggest technological evolution since the launch of wireless in Canada. We are making the right investments, building the right partnerships and deploying the right technology to bring Canadians the very best of 5G,” said Joe Natale, chief executive of Rogers Communications.
The 5G networks will have speeds fast enough to download a movie to a smartphone in seconds, while allowing businesses to run ‘smart’ factories using connected robots, devices and sensors.
Rogers has partnered with Sweden’s Ericsson to provide the technology needed to build the network.
Canada is reviewing the security implications of 5G networks, including whether to allow China’s Huawei Technologies to supply 5G network equipment.
The roll-out puts Rogers, which was founded in 1960 by a Canadian entrepreneur, ahead of its competition - Bell Canada, a unit of BCE Corp, and Telus Corp, Canada’s two other major telecoms companies.
Bell is ready to launch similarly early-stage 5G networks when devices become available, the company said in an emailed statement.
“Canada has the opportunity to lead the world in 5G if our regulatory environment continues to encourage wireless infrastructure investment,” the statement added. “Policies that hamper or restrict the significant capital investment required will lead to the opposite outcome.”
Telus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Canada’s top five telecom companies accounted for 85% of the broadcast and telecommunications industry’s C$67.6 billion ($50.8 billion) revenues in 2017 in Canada, the most recent government figures show.
Rogers also said it was joining a global alliance with other major telecoms companies from around the world, to coordinate on delivery of 5G adoption.
The other companies in the 5G Future Forum are U.S. firm Verizon, Mexico’s América Móvil, South Korea-based KT Corp, Australia’s Telstra and Vodafone in Europe.
The forum is intended to ensure that 5G networks from service providers in different countries will be able to communicate seamlessly with each other. (Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by David Gregorio and Rosalba O’Brien)