The head of Rogers Communications Inc. says that its wireless arm and the recently acquired Inukshuk Internet Inc. business could play a prominent role in the company’s long-term strategy of providing a broad range of bundled services on a national basis. Ted Rogers, chair and CEO of Rogers Communications, made the comments at investment house UBS’ 32nd Annual Media Week Conference in New York on December 9. He spoke at Credit Suisse First Boston’s 2004 Media and Telecom Week earlier the same day. When asked how the company would use its combination of fixed and wireless assets in targeting the home of the future, Rogers stated that just as BCE Inc. wants to own all the services within the home, Rogers Communications wishes to do the same. But there are challenges, the company CEO said, highlighting the fact that its cable operation only covers 30% of Canada. He added that its wireless outfit covers 93% of the country. "So we have to find a way to offer this full range of products across the full 93%," he said. One way for the company to bridge that void in national cable TV distribution services is to partner with other cable operators from other regions of the country using Rogers Wireless Inc. as the conduit, explained Rogers. While he didn’t explicitly highlight the company’s recent agreement with Altantic cableco EastLink Cable Systems, this is the kind of agreement to which he was clearly referring. Speculation is circulating boardrooms across the country about when Rogers Wireless will be named the wireless carrier partner for Cogeco Cable Inc., Shaw Cablesystems and Vidéotron ltée. It is widely anticipated that these three major cable operators will resell wireless services, and it is likely those services will be from Rogers Wireless. Cogeco Cable and Shaw have indicated publicly that they will offer subscribers a mobile service. Cogeco’s head Louis Audet recently changed his tune of offering a wireless service as a nice to have to it now being a key component of a future bundle. The comments came before the company’s annual general meeting earlier this month. Jim Shaw also made similar comments earlier this year. Industry insiders tell Report on Wireless that Rogers Wireless is at the top of the list as a potential partner for cablecos. Telus Mobility is bandied about as a distant second, but all indications point to Rogers Wireless as being the most logical choice for a partner with wireless operations. Rogers downplayed the wireless resale option due to the cable players’ predominant focus on getting their respective local telephony offerings using Voice over IP (VoIP) up and running. The majority of the cablecos are expected to roll out VoIP offerings next year. The second way is to leverage the near-national MCS licence of Inukshuk Internet, the fixed wireless subsidiary of Microcell Telecommunications, the country’s former smallest operator that was acquired earlier this fall by Rogers Wireless (RoW, Nov. 19/04). Rogers said that it would allow the company to offer high-speed Internet and telephony services, but video services wouldn’t be part of that offering. "That would not give us video, but it would give us those products," he stated. The third option, said Rogers, would come in the form of consolidation in the cable TV market. "If we got together and the cable companies merged either operationally or ownership or part in part, who knows," he added. Rogers Communications announced last week that it had entered into an agreement with an identified third party to swap stakes in Cogeco Cable for a similar stake in Cogeco Inc. Under terms of the agreement, Rogers Communications will exchange 658,125 subordinate voting shares in Cogeco Cable for 675,000 subordinate voting shares in Cogeco. Following the closing of the transaction, Rogers Communications would own nearly 3.4 million subordinate voting shares of Cogeco, the equivalent of about 23% of those class of shares and 21% of all common shares of Cogeco. Rogers Communications will continue to hold approximately 27% of Cogeco Cable’s subordinate voting shares.