What happened: Shaw rolls out new wireless service in B.C. and Alberta
Why it matters: New brand, which relies heavily on WiFi connections, is pricing services competitively as Ottawa calls on big players to reduce wireless prices
Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) is looking to shake up B.C.’s mobility market with the introduction of a new brand targeting its internet customers.
The telecom company, which also owns Freedom Mobile, is rolling out its new Shaw Mobile brand to British Columbians and Albertans effective Thursday (July 30).
The wireless service is available to Shaw internet customers, who can connect at home via their internet connections and on the road via Shaw’s WiFi hotspots.
If internet customers venture beyond those locations, they’ll pay for data to connect to the company’s LTE network or else Shaw’s roaming partners.
Shaw did not respond to an inquiry from BIV regarding the provenance of its LTE network, but it would presumably be the same as Freedom Mobile.
Freedom Mobile, which has about 1.8 million subscribers, will continue on as its own distinct brand alongside Shaw Mobile.
Prices begin at $0 for Shaw’s internet customers, who will be able to add up to six wireless lines of unlimited talk and text.
Customers can also opt for a $45 monthly plan offering 25GB of data over the LTE network.
Speeds are throttled after customers hit the 25GB threshold, or else customers can top up their plans 1GB at a time.
For customers expecting to be within the range of their home or WiFi hotspots at most times, Shaw will charge $10 per 1GB of data used on the LTE network with unused data rolling over for up to 90 days.
The company said the new brand is being introduced as it finds Canadians looking to reduce monthly wireless costs by opting for more WiFi data than cellular data on their smartphones.
Shaw Mobile’s launch comes two days after Ottawa released its first report on wireless data pricing amidst the federal government’s efforts to reduce the cost of some wireless plans.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged during last year’s election campaign his government would encourage the country’s biggest wireless players — Bell Canada [(BCE Inc.) TSX:BCE], Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) and Vancouver-based Telus Corp. (TSX:T) — to lower prices 25% over two years.
If not, he’d seek to introduce more competition into the market.
The July 28 report from Ottawa found in B.C. that the 25% target has not been met for plans in the 2-5 GB/month categories examined.
A 2020 study from U.K.-based broadband price comparison website cable.co.uk measured the cost of 1 GB of mobile data across the globe, ranking Canada No. 209 at an average of US$12.55 per 1 GB.
India ranked No. 1 at an average of US$0.09; the U.S. (No. 188) was behind Canada at US$8.