Back in March 2015, Rogers announced domestic roaming for Rogers, Fido, and Cityfone customers under its “Rogers-EXT” brand. When a phone says Rogers-EXT, however, it’s not actually on Rogers’ network: it’s roaming on Bell/Telus.
Up until now, the telecom has attempted to limit access to Rogers-EXT to areas where Rogers has no coverage, using the service as a way to provide coverage where its network is limited or nonexistent. If you attempt to force your phone to use EXT inside of Rogers’ advertised coverage footprint, it usually did not work.
However, that may have changed recently, at least in some locations. We’ve recently read reports of people getting access to EXT in areas where they didn’t before, and others being able to force their phone to use EXT. I put it to the test and, sure enough, I was able to force a device to use EXT, allowing me to use my phone normally. These tests were done deep inside Rogers’ advertised coverage footprint in an area where the telecom’s signal is stronger than the EXT signal. Previous tests to force EXT in this area were not successful.
There is uncertainty whether this shift applies only to specific areas, or is still in the process of being fully implemented. Reports out of B.C. and Alberta are indicate unrestricted EXT access is on the way, but some people testing EXT in Southern Ontario are suggesting they’re still unable to access the service in the GTA, Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton.
If this is a policy change, rather than a mistake that will later be corrected, it could be very good for some Rogers customers. For the most part, Rogers has only blocked EXT access in areas where its signal is strong. However, due to the differences between the Rogers network and the EXT network, there were some locations where Rogers chose to block off where its signal was sufficiently weak as to not be reliable, or in some cases nonexistent. If Rogers is truly allowing unfettered EXT access, this should mean a better experience in fringe areas for Rogers users.
There are limitations to keep in mind, however. If you’re on a call it will drop when transitioning from Rogers to the EXT network. Rogers also requires that you be on a post-paid plan (not prepaid), and that the majority of your usage be on the Rogers network.
Update 01/03/16: When Rogers first launched EXT, older “my10” plans were excluded. Some users are reporting that those grandfathered plans now have access to EXT as well. Thanks Scott M. for the tip!