Rogers hikes price of surfing Net
Company says $5 increase ensures service's viability
Rachel Ross
Technology Reporter
Rogers Cable is raising the price of its high-speed Internet service.

Starting in April, Rogers Cable Inc. will charge $44.95 a month, an increase of $5.

"This is the first rate increase we've had since we launched the project seven years ago," said Taanta Gupta, Rogers' director of media relations.

"We intend to be in this business for the long haul, so we need to run it on an economic business model."

Gupta said the rate increase is not intended to cover expenses the company incurred building its own network after the bankruptcy of former partner At Home Corp. But Gupta said that Rogers doesn't want to end up in the same predicament as At Home, which did not generate enough revenue per customer.

Chris Weisdorf, president of the Residential Broadband Users' Association, said Roger's operating profit margin for high-speed Internet service has actually gone up by about 3 per cent in the past year.

"I don't mind the rate increase, provided that this extra money is used to improve the service,'' Weisdorf said. "If it's just to pad their balance sheet, that's not acceptable."

Rogers began offering customers special promotional pricing in November. New subscribers can receive $100 in rebates over a five-month period. After the five-month promotional period ends, new customers pay $44.95 per month. Under the rate increase, both new and old customers will pay the same rate.

BCE-owned rival Sympatico introduced a new pricing plan of its own in November. Similar to Roger's plan, new Sympatico customers are charged $24.95 a month for five months and $44.95 after that. A Sympatico spokesperson said the company hasn't decided whether it will follow Rogers' lead and increase rates for existing customers as well.

Kenneth Wallis of Toronto switched to Rogers's high-speed Internet service a few months ago, lured by the introductory offer.

He said he will be "severely tempted" to switch back again if Sympatico doesn't increase its rates as well.

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