Interview with Rogers EVP John Boynton on Chatr: It’s “Unlimited Wireless that works”

Ian Hardy

July 1, 2010 8:31am

Rogers confirmed yesterday that they’ll be launching a new wireless brand later this Summer called “Chatr”. This will offer unlimited talk and text with no contracts. I had the opportunity to speak with John Boynton, EVP & CMO of Rogers about why they created “Chatr” and who their target audience is.

The full interview is below and there are some good takeaways. He said Chatr will be an entirely separate division, separate billing system, separate outsourced customer care organization, separate staff in a separate building. Chatr started about a year ago and is based off the Metro PSC and Leap Wireless model in the States. In the interview he used what could be their tag line of “Unlimited Wireless that works”.

The Chatr target customer is “the very basic need customer with above average usage, average to below average income, sophisticated in the sense that they’ve been a wireless customer for a little while so they don’t need a lot of help with support. They get it and don’t need their phone other than text and voice.” Boyton also stated that Chatr is an “Urban brand” (each city will have calling “zones”) and “Is not a 21 network, doesn’t need to be the fastest”.

When I asked John Boyton about directly going after their competition such as WIND, Mobilicity and Public Mobile he stated “that a statement that bugs me little… what did they do? They looked south of the border and said, ooh look at that, that might work. So why are we any different?… We are later that WIND, Mobilicity and Public but earlier that Videotron and Shaw… We’re not first but not last. But a big difference: our works.”

The early rumours of these where Chatr will be available are in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. But with the above statement you can also bet that you could see Chatr cover the Quebec region.

In closing Boynton stated that “If people thought that we were going to leave this segment to just everybody else to have and not us, then they don’t understand the competitive nature of the industry. We’re going to compete for our customer needs just like we would and any other company in any other industry would.”

Check it out here:

  • quatchi

    So No Data …??

  • Scott

    Sorry Rogers- you have screwed me over too many times. I am not buying into any company of yours. And no data? That equals no smartphones and equals boring phone selection. No thank you

  • Anon

    Looks like we gotta keep waiting for cheap data.

  • yaright

    I think rogers needs to do some serious butt kissing. The reason why your customers left in the first place rogers was because you ripped them off. You gouged them, you treated them like crap when they needed your help and then you think that starting this brand is going leave our mouths minty fresh after that bad taste? Your wrong. You should have been offering this with your rogers brand all along. In his statement, Boynton states that Wind and all the other brands looked to the states for pricing. Jon, does wind or mobilicity have some kind of information that you don’t have access to? Canadian consumers had access to that information and we probably told rogers, bell and telus a kajillion times that we were being raped when it came to phone fees. Rogers, your time has run out. You must have left us with an STI because we’re sick of companies like you.

  • Mitchell M

    I wouldn’t support Rogers even if their prices were lower. Their main goal is to put WIND and Mobilicity out of business, once they’re gone, goodbye Chatr.

  • cuneyt kuskaya

    who You guys are fooling again?

  • @chatr_wireless

    Well we have been announced by our Father at Rogers Wireless and I am aware that some of you are asking why there are no Data Plans, but at this time we are concentrating on localized talk/text plans

  • Nico

    Launch this in all major cities. Especially the capitals in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. There is no City Fido in Sask. I wonder if there will be a reasonable LD add on? It’s stupid that there is no data or browsing option. If Chatr is to be the budget brand, at least offer browsing on EDGE for Feature Phones and Dumbphones.

  • theninjasquad

    Why don’t they just offer these kinds of plans through their other 2 brands?

  • Mike

    you are all right I’ll say with Public Mobile because I’m in Montreal.

  • jarret

    lamborghini is owned by volkswagen

    (in other words, this is a strategy that is used in many, many other industries) it’s called sub branding.

  • Jim

    Anyone who goes with Chatr over Wind or Public Mobile is a fool. I’m sorry, but no one is going to tell me that Rogers wont jack the rates SKY HIGH as soon as they’ve eliminated the competition.

    Every move they’ve made since day one tells us that!

    Right now they are only at the “toss the people a few grapes to shut them up” phase. It wont work on me.

  • Josh

    Can’t wait to see quarterly and annual reports concerning Wind statistics/profit etcetera. They are keeping awfully quiet on that front and eventually you’ll see what Jim is talking about with Wind and Mobilicity. PRofits will be razor thin and they’ll have to jack up prices and clients will be left saying, ”Aw shucks, this is bullshit.”
    A slight bonus in a contract is the price stays fixed(the plan), though I do agree 3 years is ridiculous. I would say cap it at 2 yr at most. But hey, people b***h for bitching. ”I don’t wanna pay high prices for anything”
    Use the enthousiasm for better things like making sure those consumer protection laws pass through legislation(NDP motion)(Bill 60 in Quebec). You can complain to the companies but no real changes will be made, try government, it sticks better when it becomes law

  • Aj

    What the F**K does this mean for Fido?

  • thep

    I wonder what’s gonna happen to pay as you go products & services for Rogers and Fido?

  • Mack

    If I can’t get data, and it’s only unlimited calling within city zones, why the hell would I go with them instead of WIND or MOBILICITY?! In fact, the fact that they are restricting people to zones when they have a full network pisses me off so I would NEVER go with them! I am with fido and luckly I already have unlimited! F*ck you ROGERS I f*cking hate you! I also hate the fact that consumers will fall for sh*t like this!

    FYI there will be NO data, it will be running on rogers edge (2g) network! This is garbage! I hope Chatr goes under. Also, the name is ugly, yet befitting for rogers!

  • Tarr

    rogers i couldnt get reception in my living room and you jacked up bills and made me buy you out.. i dont ever think so

  • Mo Shahrokni

    I will never be fooled by any product or brand that Rogers sells. I was a fido customers for 3 years and what they offered me? A $35 setup fee for changing my plan to no access fee. A $22 fee for not giving them a notice when I left for wind.
    As I get any opportunity, I will try to push anyone I know to go away from Rogers/Fido/Chatr. I’ve already bought a wind phone for my dad and he switched to Wind and I switched my friend from fido to Virgin. So anything but Rogers/Fido/Chatr. The most evil company in Canada.

  • thep

    Mack…. and Mo….. Relax…

  • Don Cherry

    Here are the questions that SHOULD have been asked:

    1. Do you think it is fair that an existing Rogers customer stuck on a 3 year contract will not be able to switch to one of these plans?
    2. Will your Chat-r zones grow as the new entrant’s networks grow? If so, doesn’t this suggest that the new entrants are your biggest threat, not Bellus?
    3. Why don’t you offer this service to people in rural areas, are there not people in these areas who would also like unlimited talk and text?
    4. You say it’s a ‘smaller segment of the population’ who only use voice and text. Surely it is the majority who only use voice & text, are you saying that data add ons are used by the majority of your subscribers?

    I could go on, I appreciate the effort you have made here Ian, but you are a journalist, not a buddy of this Rogers representative. Ask the questions people want to know, grill him on these issues, once you do, you will find yourself with the reputation of being a great journalist. Good luck with your future interviews.

  • jarr

    they wont jack the prices up. its a totally new brand. you guys are i****s and would be lousy businessmen.

    for those of you who want data, this brand is clearly not for you.

  • jarr

    Don Cherry, here are your answers:

    1. Yes. It is fair. Customers can opt out of any contract by paying the ETF which help covers the cost of the phone that we gave you for free when you signed up for the contract. Pay us the ETF, and you can be as free as you like

    2. New entrants are not a threat due to their limited distribution and poor quality network.

    3. There must be lots of people in rural areas that love to do talk and text. But there are more of those people in the city. We run a business. There are many other industries and businesses that do not focus on rural areas as well due to the high cost of deploying networks in these areas. I can go through some of the math if you wish.

    4. Yes, a majority of users use some form of data or data add on. What part didn’t you get?

  • Don Cherry

    Well Jarr, what an informative and arrogant array of answers you have provided, I only wish John Boynton had been as blunt as you as it would have highlighted the true nature of Rogers and this business decision. Please note:

    1. “yes it is fair”, I think most customers would agree, it is not. Unless of course you are looking at the telecoms market from the Rogers boardroom, where any decision to maximize profits and not get rapped by the CRTC is considered ‘fair’.

    2. “New entrants are not a threat due to their limited distribution and poor quality network.” – Of course, the decision to launch Chatr is purely a coincidence right? Oh, mabye it’s in retaliation to the unlimited offerings of Bell & Telus? Oh wait, they don’t have any!

    3. “well due to the high cost of deploying networks in these areas” – Hey guess what Jarr? THE NETWORKS ARE ALREADY IN THE RURAL AREAS! They simply don’t want to offer the unlimited packages because there is no need to, as there is no competitor doing the same. This proves Rogers cares nothing for offering customers what they want, instead they only drop prices when they have to due to REAL competition.

    4. “a majority of users use some form of data or data add on” – Incorrect and you know it, data is still a small segment of the overall Canadian cell phone usage. Sure Rogers and others tack on a few MB to alot of their plans, but offer people the chance to drop that for unlimited talk & text and would flock to it.

    Let’s be honest here, Rogers wants to keep it’s naive customers tied up and paying through the nose whilst pandering to the financial savvy who will walk away.

    If this works in destroying competition, Chatr will be wound back in and we will all be back to square one. Should it fail and the new networks continue to march on, bringing real value to the rest of Canada, then Chatr will fail as it will be a poorer offering.

    One positive thing I will say about Rogers, is that at least they are doing something, at least they are reacting to the new competition, whether they like to admit it or not. Bell & Telus are sat on their hands right now just waiting, doing nothing. I fear Telus will start to lose ground fast over the next 5 years, Bell will have something up their sleeve but won’t do anything until they have to.

  • jarr

    the networks aren’t already in rural areas d*****s

  • Ali

    id love to join the new rogers company, but if the roumers are true that it will offer no data then WIND is clearly the winner with the customers that want no contract but a smart phone. if CHAT-R offers only talk and text then it means that their only competition is Public mobile and as we can all tell, Public Mobile = FAIL

  • Ali

    and last but not least.. Rogers has always seemed to follow the foot steps of Telus mobility in respect to price plan designs. if they actually offer DIFFERENT price plans than telus instead of copying them then there would perhaps would be no need for this chat-r company. its just that Rogers and Bell have the habbit of copying TELUS mobility price plans 100% which means no competition because they all end up having the same price plans. at&t and verizon and tmobile in the US dont do this kinda copying business and they are well off on their own without spending money to confure the customers into creating sneaky sub brands like virgin solo kodoo fido chat-r and probably few more that will show up by bell and telus now that rogers has this new headache called chat-r. its sad 10 companies and still no competition and 3 year sentences.

  • Don Cherry

    Well said Ali, I agree entirely.

    Jarr, I live a 4 hour drive of Toronto, I have 20 acres of land, bears in my garden, I travel 1 hour to get to my nearest supermarket. I think that qualifies as rural, and yes, there is Rogers 2G/EDGE and 3G where I am. Now pull you head out of the sand and check the coverage maps on the Rogers website, there is much of rural (populated) ontario with Rogers 2G/3G coverage who will not be allowed access to these plans. Why? Because Rogers doesn’t have competition to react to up here, but in a few years they will and then things will change.

    If only Rogers could apply the same kind of forward thinking that they did with the 3G hub (heavily marketed and used in this part of rural Ontario). It is a great product that people here are flocking to and it has even caused Bell to react by launching their own hub (something they would never have done without the prompt from Rogers).

  • Jason- Ex Rogers Employee

    Rogers plans to kill off the competition/ then change up CHAT-R and raise the rates

  • thep

    Wow…. I thought people would like the whole competition thing. Guess not. It’s impossible to please the Canadian consumer. Oh well.

  • Sam

    I live in Northern BC and use Fido and it’s just excellent. Great service and great customer service. I can’t think what all the bitching going on here is all about. Some of you take it real personal that Rogers wants to add another line. Like, why the hell do you all care so dam much? Makes no friggin sense to me to read all this bitching.

  • oortian

    It’s nice to see some Rogers people here reading the posts. How does it feel to be so hated by so many people you have abused for years and years. But don’t feel bad, you are not alone. Your buddies at Telus and Bell are just as bad but you are the worst. As for me, I would pay more for the same service at WIND or Mobilicity than go with any of you thieves. I hope you all go out of business! Sorry, but you made us love to hate you!

  • McDonald

    Good luck Chatr kick them all out these daylight pirates of new entrants coming to make a buck by blowing all kind of winds and giving us pains in exchange

  • Don Cherry

    McDonald, that comment made no sense. Perhaps you would be more at home in North Korea where the complications of mobile network selection are somewhat simplified.

    Sam, you say ‘Like, why the hell do you all care so dam much?’ – Well Sam, because some of us in this great country hate being ripped off. You’re happy with the way things are, that’s o.k, you probably know no better and sometimes as they say, ‘ignorance is bliss’. I however, am not happy with the way things are and having had experience in mobile communications in several countries, know that Canadians are getting taken advantage of. Didn’t Fido used to offer unlimited voice until Rogers took over? Is that O.K? are you good with the idea of paying more for less?

    thep, it’s not that we don’t want more competition, we do! I’s just that for Rogers to offer this in limited areas and under a new brand to restrict existing customers from switching is unfair, simple.

    • Alex

      Where do you think the competitors get their service from? They piggy back on the Cellular system put in by Bell/Telus/Rogers. They did not invest in the infrasture of building out a telecom system. Vultures!

  • Darsh

    Only if Rogers acted a bit earlier on this by launching their brand at the time of Wind Launch.. But now the mountain is more steep for Chatr to climb. It will be successful depending on where its focussed.

  • Luke

    I think there are excellent points made by both sides. Here are mine and I am open to feedback.

    Public and mobilicity SUCKS (CANNOT text per use on many plans or add voicemail if you want to and you have to PAY at least $3.00 to pay your bill at the store). Brother and I found WIND MOBILE to have VERY poor reception in downtown Toronto near winds head office, unreliable (i know they are new). I think rogers is a reliable network but to say that “ROGERS has great offerings”…are you kidding?! Nights start at 9pm $30 a month, FIDO $20 a month unlimited evenings and weekends form 7pm. Curious to see chatr,when launch. I wish Fido wasn’t owned by rogers now.

    #
    lukehard242
    1 day ago
    @UzumakiItachi675 I agree, thanks the info. I really hope they let you have pay per use text on basic unlimited voice plans (hopefully some included) and ability to add voicemail or there is no point.

    I hope the “urban zone” is same as current cityfido zone.

    If they match coverage zone to be same as wind but have reliable service for all of the zone, I am interested. Bit concerned network may get so busy with so many rogers brands now through and effect service down the road, unlike fido.

    p.s. sorry I just wanted to voice something important to demonstrate a point about hidden fees.

    Public mobile “Warning: A $3 fee is applied for monthly payments made at a store. We don’t like it either but it costs us more when customers pay in store. We cover part of that cost but have to pass some of it on to you. ” BS FEE!!!

    Mobilicity doesn’t even tell you on their website (SNEAKY!) Customer service says “$3.00″
    WIND=free.
    CHATR=please be free like wind & lower prices.

    WIND head of customer service operations “Graham” said to me when I had poor service was told on the phone by him “we can’t make you happy”. All I wanted to do is to make a call, if I can’t make a call then rogers may be a better choice for now, as much as I prefer to support indepedant companies.

  • AKA

    I think this Rogers move will do very good thing for new entrants to the market. Consumers in Canada are not basing their choices on rational thinking otherwise they wouldn’t have been paying system access fees, activating fees, government regulatory recovery fees, 911 fees and long long list of made up fees and tariffs..

    The more movement in the market you create the more people will start thinking about other choices.. And then it comes to a net ads share. Do you know who has biggest net ads share in Q2? its not Bell, and not Telus, and not rogers (they were in 4th place in Q1). Im pretty sure in Q2 (just fineshed 4 days ago) its gonna be a newcomer – WIND Mobile.

    So its not necessarily a bad thing for competition and consumers.

    And for people commenting here who are justifying high prices of incumbents because they have to build rural networks.. common! just have a look at their profitability and EBITDA’s… and all investment to innovation is bull**it as well (Canada is 5 years behind admit it )

    AA

  • Sam

    To Don Cherry (yeah right!)
    I worked for TELUS telecommunications for 25 years until I recently retired and I’m pretty dam sure I know a sight more about this business than you do. You aren’t as smart as you think you are.

    I realize you’d like to have us all believe you’re very smart but frankly it appears you know nothing that can’t be found on google. While I my friend have worked on the very things you think you know so much about.

    All I said was Fido offers me a great service at a great price. I did NOT say that we couldn’t use more competition or better prices. If anyone is ignorant here I’d have to say it’s you Don Cherry.

  • Franco

    It,s funny that Rogers bought Fido (Microcell)in 2004 in for the sole purpose to “kill” the unlimited Fido plans (CityFido unlimited talk and the 20$ unlimited data plan that came with the Hiptop PDA). That got the big three what they wanted, total market dominance and the consumers were left with crap. Now they want to do it all over again. I hope the government doesn’t accept any more bags of money from these crooks

  • JAWG

    Funny,some of you Wind Fanboys are complaining about Rogers ethics/conduct/method of operation without looking at how Wind got into the market…if the government received any bags of money it was probably from Wind/Orascom and Orascom actually has a true history of that in Algiers/Europe/many parts of Asia where they are known as a predator communication giant.They really have no interest in Canadians and Wind only used Canadians to get into the market with lies/false promises/deception…the sooner they fail or are bought of the better for Canadians and our Industry as a whole.

    Yes,again,we are need of changes…but Wind is not the solution and only makes the Industry worse…I hope ChatR can bury them along with their attitude/insincerity/phoniness and their smug igmorance.

    And Don Cherry things Canadian customers are ripping of their users…GOOD LAUGH…Wind is USELESS!!!

  • Falco

    Mark Twain said,”it’s not that people know too little, but they know too much that is wrong.” With all the mobile babble, a co that seems to get overlooked is Fido–variety of phns, simple plans and options, reasonable rates, & broad clear coverage. Havent had dropped call in yrs, & rarely wait more than 5 min to talk to a friendly helpful csr.

  • nimaruichi

    To people who are complaining about no data or smartphones, you’re not their target demographic. They want you on Fido if you’re an average user or Rogers if you’re a premium user. Not every brand is going to cater to every demographic.

    As far as the “Rogers screwed me!” crowd, uh yeah, that’s what telecom companies do. Best get used to it. I’ve been with Rogers, Fido, Telus, Bell, and Virgin and every single one of them has had some area where it seems like they’re almost TRYING to be deficient. I’m back with Rogers now because their particular brand of BS just happens to be the least abrasive among the major providers, and I’m not going to waste my time with the smaller companies and their crap handsets, terrible service, and poor data rates and speeds when I effectively run my business from my phone half the time.

    “Let’s be honest here, Rogers wants to keep it’s naive customers tied up and paying through the nose whilst pandering to the financial savvy who will walk away.”

    What other philosophy do you think a company aiming to be profitable should have? Rogers is more than willing to let 1 or 2 of the little fish who keep their free phone until it’s time to renew their contract and have little $30 / month plans move on to other companies, especially if it’s to keep business customers such as myself who purchase multiple plans, upgrade their smartphones regularly, and consider an extra $100 / month for a personal “friends and family” line perfectly reasonable.

    The bottom line is that a business that makes the majority of its revenue off of premium users can’t really afford to cater to the little guy. If it bugs you, vote with your wallet and go to Wind or some other mom & pop mobile provider, and hope that the big dogs don’t drive them out of business.

  • Alimenaj

    I understand what everyones POV is about Chatr and everything about the common concerns and bashing of Rogers.
    My first cellphone company was Rogers AT&T before it became ROGERS Wireless. At first they were great on giving help and everything…..but after the years would pass by the CSRs got ruder and and more defensive. My bills were from being 45.66$ a month to OVER 300.00$/month because of me living so close the USA/CAN border. But anyways besides that….to the real reason for my comment.

    I see everyone is backing WIND and Mobilicity and bashing Chatr.
    WIND and Mobilicity, yes the do have great plans and are getting better phones day to day, but the real problem is this…thier network quality. They are using (to my knowledge) the oldest and most unused network spectrum AWS 1700/2100, and claiming they are both 3.5G+ network when the network its self isnt that great. I was with both companies and when I was having issues with WIND i was called a LIAR but the President herself thru email and phone! They act like they care for us but really when you have an issue they always back up their reps before they even listen to us comsumers.

    As we all know not every phone works with WIND or Mobilicity, not everyone can afford these phones and some want to use their old Sim card phone which we cannot even use.

    With Chatr, you can use ANY UNLOCKED phone there is, a buddy of mine is using his iPhone 3G S, lets see you use that on WIND or Mobilicity.

    I know they do not have data plans or anything but they are coming soon.

    So before you think Chatr is terrible look at the benefits of using this New Wireless Company. Remember not EVERYONE likes to be restricted to the same 8 phones on the line up they are offering.

  • DonthateChatr

    I understand what everyones POV is about Chatr and everything about the common concerns and bashing of Rogers.
    My first cellphone company was Rogers AT&T before it became ROGERS Wireless. At first they were great on giving help and everything…..but after the years would pass by the CSRs got ruder and and more defensive. My bills were from being 45.66$ a month to OVER 300.00$/month because of me living so close the USA/CAN border. But anyways besides that….to the real reason for my comment.

    I see everyone is backing WIND and Mobilicity and bashing Chatr.
    WIND and Mobilicity, yes the do have great plans and are getting better phones day to day, but the real problem is this…thier network quality. They are using (to my knowledge) the oldest and most unused network spectrum AWS 1700/2100, and claiming they are both 3.5G+ network when the network its self isnt that great. I was with both companies and when I was having issues with WIND i was called a LIAR but the President herself thru email and phone! They act like they care for us but really when you have an issue they always back up their reps before they even listen to us comsumers.

    As we all know not every phone works with WIND or Mobilicity, not everyone can afford these phones and some want to use their old Sim card phone which we cannot even use.

    With Chatr, you can use ANY UNLOCKED phone there is, a buddy of mine is using his iPhone 3G S, lets see you use that on WIND or Mobilicity.

    I know they do not have data plans or anything but they are coming soon.

    So before you think Chatr is terrible look at the benefits of using this New Wireless Company. Remember not EVERYONE likes to be restricted to the same 8 phones on the line up they are offering.

  • Cuneyt Kuskaya

    Not bad