Technology & Science

Rogers launching another wireless brand: sources

Rogers Communications is launching another wireless discount brand, named Chatr, to compete with new carriers Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, sources say.

Rogers Communications is launching another wireless discount brand, named Chatr, to compete with new carriers Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, sources say.

Chatr's main purpose will be to match new entrants with lower prices and cheaper phones without diminishing the quality appearance of Rogers' core brand, according to a source with Rogers who did not want to be named.

"We've been working on this for a while now," the source said.

Rogers already has a discount brand, Fido, that offers lower fees and cheaper phones, as well as no additional charges, such as the parent company's regulatory recovery charge. The source could not say why Rogers was launching another discount brand, nor how it will be differentiated from Fido.

An official at Rogers said the company is always working to innovate and better serve Canadians, but would not comment further.

Details of the new brand were leaked by the Boy Genius Report last week. The website reported that Rogers will begin training employees for Chatr in mid-July, followed shortly thereafter with a launch in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary. Those are the five cities where Wind has launched, and that are targeted by Mobilicity, which started up in Toronto in May.

Amit Kaminer, an industry analyst with the Seaboard Group, said the new discount brand makes sense for Rogers because Fido is suffering from an identity crisis. While Fido does offer lower pricing, the brand also caters to higher-end customers with the iPhone.

"Its message is confusing and it's harder to form an holistic target-market view when you carpet-bomb most market segments [and] demographics," he said. "A new brand will allow Rogers to segregate the customers, and treat/offer different customers different choices without eroding the installed base [and revenue]."

Chatr may also add to confusion in the marketplace, Kaminer added, as Canadians will have a surfeit of brands to choose from, offered by a handful of actual providers. In addition to the new entrants, Rogers, and Fido, Telus operates Koodo and Bell runs both Virgin and Solo.

"It will add some confusion to the market as to who is new in the zoo," Kaminer said. "The new entrants' marketing mission would be to expose that Rogers/Chatr relationship, convince consumers that nothing has really changed and if they really want something different — cost, plan, no contract and service — they should go new."

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