Rogers buying Ontario business services provider

Rogers Communications Inc. has solidified its strategy for expanding into business services by dealing to buy one of Ontario’s larges fibre-optic networks.

The cable company said Tuesday it will buy Kitchener-based Atria Networks LP for $425 million from Birch Hill Equity Partners.

In a statement Rogers said deal solidifies its Business Solutions division offering by enhancing its ability to deliver on-net data centric services in and around the company’s Ontario cable footprint.

“The business-to-business market represents a significant opportunity for Rogers,” CEO Nadir Mohamed said in the statement. “The acquisition of Atria strategically fits with our enterprise strategy to offer on-net, high growth data services to small and medium sized businesses. This includes next-generation Ethernet services.”

Built largely by buying a number of telecom divisions owned by local utilities, Atria’s network includes 5,600 fibre route kilometers and over 3,800 on-net buildings including Ottawa, Cornwall, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Richmond Hill, Markham, Hamilton, Barrie, Orillia, Peterborough and Vaughan.

Last week it bought the Ontario telecom network assets of Xittel Telecommunications, which is headquartered in Trois-Rivieres, Que. for an undisclosed price.

Atria counts over 1,100 mostly business customers. It does include a small number of residential fixed wireless customers in the Halton Hills area northwest of Toronto.

In July it opened a second network operations centre, just north of Toronto. For some time Atria has been promising to start business voice over IP phone service. The deal is subject to regulatory approval. If all goes well it is expected to close early next year.

In an interview after the company’s annual general meeting in April, Mohamed said the business services division is focusing on small and medium businesses with “IP data-centric services.” In particular, he said Rogers wants to use its own network rather than reaching to customers by leasing fibre from other providers. “We found that relying on other people’s networks doesn’t play to our core strengths.”

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