Calgary-based telecom carrier Shaw Communications (SJR) (SJR-B.TO) has announced it will launch Shaw Mobile, a wireless service for B.C. and Alberta customers who will be able to add up to six mobile lines to their internet service. Unlimited talk and text will cost no money per month, while customers wishing for data can add $45 per month for 25GB.
Paul McAleese, president of wireless at Shaw, explained during a press briefing that customers who add a phone line will use Wi-Fi when at home and will automatically connect to one of the 450,000 Shaw Wi-Fi hotspots in Western Canada when not at home. There is a $20 activation fee per line, he said.
Regular rates for Shaw Fibre+ internet plans start at $60 per month to $125 per month, according to information on the carriers’ website.
McAleese added that customers wishing for data can either pay $10 per gigabyte or add $45 for 25GB. Speeds are throttled if customers go over their data and they will not be charged an overage fee. Customers will also be notified if they are about to reach their data limit, he said.
Customers are required to go to one of the 19 retail stores that will have this offering, he said, adding that 12 new stores are opening in the coming weeks.
“We are in a stressful economic environment in Western Canada,” McAleese said. “What a better time to launch a high-value plan when people are most financially stressed. We think we can really help Canadian consumers and it’s a wonderful bundle.”
By offering this service, McAleese said Shaw’s strategy is to “reward and secure our existing [internet] base” and to compete with Telus, its primary competitor in the West for internet services.
“We want to ensure that we reward our customers in a way that perhaps it’s difficult for others to do and stabilize that base in a way that can reduce our churn in a unit face and reward those customers further for loyalty,” he said.
Currently, Shaw has only been able to capture a 6 per cent market share of wireless mobile customers in Western Canada, but in terms of internet customers, the carrier has a 50 per cent market share.
The carrier has also invested nearly $30 billion since 2013 into its existing networks and announced in May 2020 that Western Canadians now have access to gigabit speeds with the launch of Fibre+ Gig.
McAleese said there are no plans to expand the service to other provinces. He did note that customers travelling to other provinces using the wireless service will latch onto Freedom Mobile hotspots.
McAleese said the move to have these plans is important as the government pushes national telecom carriers to reduce prices of cellphone plans.
“We believe that the launch of Shaw Mobile will not only meet that [ask] but will substantially surpass that,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Shaw has tried to disrupt the telecom industry. In November 2018, the carrier offered existing Freedom Mobile customers 100GB of bonus data if they signed up for a two-year monthly $60 plan with a new handset.
It pushed larger carriers to later offer unlimited data plans which were launched by Rogers, Bell, and Telus in the summer of 2019.
McAleese also noted that this new service will not change what Freedom Mobile will offer.
“We think they’re very much complementary. Some of our peers are able to manage a trio of brands typically. So we’re not worried about managing a dual of brands,” he said. “In Western Canada, we still are a challenger brand so we have a relatively low market share. If a Freedom customer chooses to move their pricing into Shaw, that’s fine, we’re quite comfortable having that conversation and transfer over. But the vast majority, we believe of customers that will come to Shaw Mobile will be new and accretive to our wireless objective.”