Shaw WiFi Trials Begin In Key Markets With High Hopes

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 7, 2011

In September, Shaw dropped its plans for a wireless telephone network and instead announced that it would build a cheaper Wi-Fi service. The move caught most industry analysts by surprise and they claimed that ditching wireless plans would hurt the company badly.

The company subsequently reported a lower Q4 profit, reflecting a wider loss from discontinued wireless operations, despite a 26 percent growth in revenues. Analysts cautioned that Shaw needs to get its WiFi act right in order to bring things back on track.

To that effect, Shaw yesterday launched the trial of its Wi-Fi network for customers in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Needless to stay, the stakes are high and the trial will provide a peek into Shaw’s future as a successful Wi-Fi provider.

The trials began yesterday and customers can try out the service at a limited number of locations, in advance of Shaw’s official launch in Spring 2012. Shaw has placed a large number of Cisco access points at a variety of locations – including malls, restaurants and fitness facilities and plans to add hundreds of access points in the coming months.

The trials are a significant milestone for Shaw – the largest broadband and television provider in Western Canada as it is struggling to keep pace with growing competition from Telus in TV and broadband segments. In fact, Shaw’s made no secret of its ambition to lead the Canadian broadband space as the Internet is a key driver for its “TV everywhere” strategy. The company’s game plan is to eventually provide access in places such as along LRT routes and in neighbourhood arenas, thereby offering a low-cost alternative its customers to access data as compared to wireless data plans.

“The use of smart phones and tablet devices has grown exponentially over the years and more than ever, consumers are relying on data to explore the Internet, connect with loved ones and enjoy entertainment,” said Peter Bissonnette, President, Shaw Communications Inc. “With Shaw WiFi, customers will have access to their exceptional Broadband Internet service beyond the home.”

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was shocked at Shaw’s decision to abandon its plans to build a wireless network. The company spent $190 million in a government auction in 2008 for spectrum purchase. IMO, the decision to abandon WiFi plans in favor of a establishing an extensive WiFi network is like picking apples in favor of oranges. None the less, I’ll be happy to eat my words if Shaw’s Wi-Fi network makes up the disappointment of shelving its much-anticipated wireless network.

Shaw claims customers will get speeds “similar” to their home Internet service. If you are in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton and happen to try out Shaw’s new Wi-Fi network, please let us know your feedback by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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