Canada's Rogers expects to spend up to C$2.9 billion in 2020

(Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc RCIb.TO said on Wednesday it expects to spend up to C$2.9 billion ($2.21 billion) this year to expand its communications infrastructure in Canada, including for 5G, but warned that "punitive" regulations would slow the deployment of the high speed network.

FILE PHOTO: Rogers Communications logos are seen above a booth during the media day at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Lack of “right” regulations in Canada to build 5G infrastructure puts the proposed investment at risk, Chief Executive Officer Joe Natale said.

“As we enter the world of 5G, regulatory certainty is critical to investment,” Natale said on a post-earnings call.

Canada is reviewing the security implications of 5G networks, including whether to allow China’s Huawei Technologies to supply network equipment.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) could not be immediately reached for comment.

Countries including the United States, China, South Korea and Japan are in a race to speed up 5G adoption, hoping the technology will spur breakthrough in the development of smart cities and autonomous cars, among other things.

“The race to 5G is not with other companies, it is with other countries,” Natale said on a post-earnings call.

Rogers became Canada’s first cellphone services provider to offer 5G telecom services, as it started rolling out the technology in downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal last week.

The company has partnered with Sweden's Ericsson ERICb.ST for the technology needed to build its 5G network and has plans to expand to another 20 markets by the end of the year.

Shares of the company were up nearly 4% in morning trade, as it posted higher year-over-year revenue and added 131,000 net wireless postpaid subscribers in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

(This story corrects capital expenditure figure to “up to C$2.9 billion” from “$3 billion” and clarifies Rogers would spend to “expand communication infrastructure”, not just for “5G infrastructure” in headline, paragraph 1.)

Reporting by Ambhini Aishwarya in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi