TORONTO — Faster and more capable Internet services are headed your way from some of the country's biggest telecommunications providers, but the chance you'll need to jump on a "gigabit" service right away is highly unlikely.
That hasn't stopped Rogers, Bell and Telus from launching the high-priced and cutting-edge service that offers the ability to download at speeds of up to one gigabit per second.
"Unless you have identified the need for gigabit services, you may want to wait before you buy in," said technology analyst Carmi Levy.
"We haven't even begun to discuss, let alone understand, what this technology means for the Canadian consumer."
Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) on Monday became the latest carrier to offer preorders for its Ignite Gigabit packages, which will be available in certain areas of the country later this year.
The rollout will begin in Ontario, focused on downtown Toronto and surrounding areas like Woodbridge, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering, Whitby and Ajax. Next year, Rogers plans to expand the service to all of Ontario and to Atlantic Canada.
The company joins Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) who are both in the midst of their own multibillion-dollar "gigabit" investments in fibre-optic Internet expansion in some parts of the country.
For all three companies, it's a race to the finish line for bragging rights on who has the fastest and most capable Internet. But for the rest of us, paying $150 a month for an unlimited "gigabit" Internet package is probably unnecessary.
While carriers have already started offering the "gigabit" Internet service in certain parts of the country, paying the monthly bill for the improved Internet speeds is similar to buying a race car that you are only allowed to drive at city speed limits.
For most Canadians, their existing Internet speeds are more than enough to stream movies on Netflix and casually browse websites.
By next year, Rogers hopes to boost the need for "gigabit" Internet with a raft of sports content and hundreds of hours of TV programming in 4K ultra high-definition resolution, for which customers will need an Ultra-HD TV.
Viewers who stream the higher image quality will quickly discover that their current Internet connections can't handle the heavy data load, which Rogers hopes will convince them to upgrade their packages.
"We're future proofing our customers so they have the bandwidth in their homes to actually consume this great content that we're going to create," said Rogers CEO Guy Laurence.
The first 4K broadcast will be the National Hockey League game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs airing on Sportsnet Jan. 23.
After that, Rogers has committed to 4K resolution for another 19 NHL games, 81 Toronto Blue Jays home games and over 100 hours of entertainment on its Shomi streaming video service.
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