Judge rules Rogers can’t claim most reliable network

A B.C. judge has ruled that Rogers Communications Inc. can no longer claim to have Canada’s most reliable mobile phone network.

On Nov. 12, Telus Corp. asked for an injunction against Rogers, saying that the latter’s claim to have a network twice as fast as the competition is based on outdated information. Telus and Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. jointly launched a high-speed packet access (HSPA) network for its customers. Telus claims that since the Nov. 5 launch, Rogers’s claims for its own HSPA network are no longer valid.

Justice J. Christopher Grauer of the Supreme Court of British Columbia concurred.

“The only basis Rogers ever had for making that representation was the comparison between its HSPA network and its competitors’ first-generation EVDO networks,” Grauer wrote in his decision. “Rogers’ representation nevertheless continues to be made. In these circumstances, I conclude that is misleading.”

Justice Grauer wrote that while Rogers did not plan its campaign, developed between August and October of this year and scheduled to run through Dec. 28, to be misleading, “it nevertheless follows that Rogers must be taken to have known at least since Telus’s new network was launched, and Telus provided notice of its concerns to Rogers, that continued use of the representation would be misleading.”

He stopped short of ordering the company to pull its advertising and promotional material, and ordered the two parties to draft submissions for terms of the injunction by Friday.

“We’re perplexed by the decision,” Carly Suppa, a spokeswoman for Rogers, told IT World Canada.

“We continue to believe that our network reliability claim is valid.”

Suppa said she could not go into more detail because the matter is before the courts, but said Rogers has filed a appeal with the British Columbia Court of Appeals.

“We anticipate further steps to be taken shortly,” Suppa said.

“The court has clearly said there’s no evidence that Rogers’ network is more reliable, and furthermore, that no one at Rogers believed it is more reliable,” said Telus spokesman Shawn Hall.

“Any advantage they had is done.”

The “hotly competitive” wireless market comes to a head in the holiday season, “by far the busiest” sales quarter of the year, and the “misleading” advertising is causing financial damage to Telus, Hall said.

Telus claims in its court filing that since Nov. 5, it has been using a “newer” HSPA network than Rogers and it provides “more coverage to more of Canada than do the HSPA or HSPA+ components of Rogers’” network.

HSPA offers a theoretical maximum data transfer rate of about seven megabits per second (Mbps). HSPA+ boasts up to 21 Mbps. Rogers announced last summer it plans to offer HSPA plus in major centres.
Telus is asking for punitive damages and that Rogers be forced to reimburse Telus for money it spent investigating Rogers’ conduct.
— With files from Greg Meckbach

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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