Rogers to offer $9.99 internet to low-income housing organization tenants

Rogers Communications Inc. is expanding a program it already offers in Toronto to tenants in non-profit housing everywhere it operates for $9.99 a month.

Telecom regulator will hold hearings into necessity of basic internet access next week

The CRTC will soon hold hearings to determine whether or not internet access is a necessity. (Denis Rozhnovsky/Shutterstock)

Rogers Communications Inc. is expanding a program it already offers in Toronto to tenants in non-profit housing developments across the country to give them basic internet access in their home for $9.99 a month.

The telecommunications conglomerate made the announcement at an event in Ottawa on Thursday. In 2013, Rogers launched a program called Connected for Success that brought high-speed internet service to residents in Toronto Community Housing developments.

Those developments subsidize low-income individuals and families for their rent and other basic living costs. Qualified applicants would receive up to 10 megabits per second download speeds, and up to one megabit per second for uploads. The service is capped at 30 gigabytes of data per month.

More than 10,000 people have signed up for the program.

Thursday's announcement expands the program to other areas where Rogers offers home internet services by including 533 non-profit housing agencies in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"From kids connecting after the school day is done to seniors staying in touch with their friends and using banking or government services, internet access isn't a nice to have — it's a necessity in our digital world," Rogers chief customer officer Deepak Khandelwal said.

Rogers will announce the program's expansion at the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation in downtown Ottawa on Thursday.

CRTC hearings on internet access

"We're really excited that our tenants will be able to take advantage of this offer," facility manager Debbie Barton said. "It's especially important that kids will be able to access the internet from an early age so they can learn and not fall behind."

The move comes as broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is preparing hold hearings next week into whether internet access needs to be mandated for all households, similar to the way water and electricity is treated.

A recent Ipsos-Reid survey found that internet access is nowhere near ubiquitous in lower-income households, which are defined as those earning less than $25,000 per year.