Shaw Shakes Up Broadband Market With Bigger Data Caps

Shaw has announced new broadband plans that offer far more data, faster speeds, and better pricing than comparable plans at competitors such as Rogers, Bell, and Telus. Shaw says the plans will be rolled out over the coming months and offer far bigger caps (including some unlimited plans). While the company says the move is linked to a shift away from analog channels, it seems more likely that Shaw is the first of the large ISPs to respond to mounting public and political pressure over the uncompetitive pricing in the Canadian broadband market. Consumer regulation from the CRTC is not likely in the short term, but government officials have made it clear that they are concerned with the current competitive environment.

The Shaw pricing plan will undoubtedly place significant pressure on its competitors, who will face questions from their customers about the disparity in service plans.  For example, starting June 7, 2011, Shaw will offer 100 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload, with a 500 GB monthly data cap for $69.00 per month (for those with its Legacy TV product). By comparison, Rogers Extreme Plus also retails for $69.00 per month but only offers 25 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload, and a 125 GB cap.  Starting August 2011, Shaw will offer a plan of 250 Mbps download, 15 Mbps upload, and a data cap of 1 TB for $99.00 per month.  For $99.00 with Rogers, customers get 50 Mbps download, 2 Mbps upload, and a 175 GB cap. 

The differences between the two major cable providers are dramatic and raise questions about whether the other major providers will match Shaw’s broadband plans. Moreover, they confirm what many have long argued about usage based billing in Canada – it is not about network congestion nor about paying for what you use. Rather, UBB in Canada is simply a cash grab by network providers with sufficient market power to demand it.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I was at a followup customer consultation with Shaw last night, and they admitted outright that the idea to drop analog channels and re-use that space to bond more channels to internet capacity came from the earlier customer consultations. So the dropping of analog channels is only directly related to the increased download speeds (250Mbps) coming in August. The new plans as a whole are a result of the customer consultation process that Shaw undertook – something which no other internet provide has bothered to do.

  2. relevancy?
    It’s nice to see Shaw do this but I don’t really see how it’ll directly effect the non-competition of Rogers, Cogeco or other CableCo’s since I can’t freely switch between them. At most it’ll help Shaw take from the DSL providers in the same areas which are incapable of providing those same speeds.

    Good for Shaw customers! Useless for the rest of us.

  3. Hmm
    Areas without Shaw an option are still screwed 🙁

  4. Dale Dietrich says:

    Shaw competes with Bell. Bell ‘tends’ to have somewhat national pricing. If Shaw is successful at drawing away customers from Bell, Bell will have to compete. This competition could affect Bell’s national or regional offerings outside of Shaw areas – thus affecting Rogers and others. So there is SOME hope that this could affect other ISPs outside of the Shaw footprint.

    Just call me an optimist 🙂


  5. Clint Johnson says:

    The other ISPs will have to compete with Shaw where there is overlap and I don’t think that they will be able to jack up the prices where they don’t overlap without serious customer unrest. There are enough overlapping competition for customers to force them to lower their prices everywhere. This is Market + Usage Based Billing, as it should be.

  6. Dale,
    No. History has taught us differently. Bell will over region pricing, i.e. discounts in areas it has to compete with Shaw. In areas where there is no competition with Shaw , they will continue to pillage.

  7. over -> offer

  8. brett ohland says:

    This seems rather… sane from a major teleco. It’s going to be interesting to see how the other major players react to the pricing.

    The only aspect of the pricing that needs to be clarified is the standalone cost for people without traditional TV service?

  9. No competition
    Can we get Shaw in Toronto (or anywhere in Ontario where Rogers offer service)?

    Can we get Rogers cable in Vancouver, Calgary, etc?

    As for Bell they just do regional pricing. Remember their original UBB offer had higher caps in Quebec than in Ontario. Because Quebec has Videotron and no Rogers and Videotron offer (comparatively) higher caps.

  10. WoW
    Good for them. Wakey Wakey Robbers / Bhell

  11. Timothy Friesen says:

    odd pricing
    I’m a little confused on the pricing here. All the new options say “Add $XX.XX”. Does this mean that that cost is in addition to the television cost? Does that mean that these plans are only available when purchased with a television plan? If so this hardly seems like a good deal.

    Are they keeping the old plans as a way of incentivizing people into cable packages and the (more expensive) new Internet plans?

  12. We_re_still_behind says:

    Good start, but not enough
    This is a good start, but we are still behind the rest of the world in terms of affordability and speed. The rest of the world don’t have any data caps either.

    Shaw did a 180 for the consultation, then said users _WANT_ UBB (another 180), then after much user complained (another 180) released this. I hope this would actually last…

  13. I can hold out hope that it will affect other providers. As for customers, I can tell you for sure 100%, that if I had Shaw as an option, I would cancel my current Internet subscription and my Bell satellite subscription and go with the highest end package Shaw offers. This will certainly put a great deal of pressure on the other providers, especially within Shaw’s service area, but also outside Shaw’s area, people will catch wind and start putting pressure on their providers.

    Even though I can’t get it in my area, I applaud Shaw for this!!

  14. Mid range
    maybe I am expecting to much, but I still find all of these packages unreasonable…

    My math could be off, but @ 1Mbps unlimited, downloading, 24/7 in a 30 day month your download total would be around 324 Gigabytes, for 59$. Compared to the faster connection speed with a limit of 400GB at the same price?

  15. Perhaps not as good as the rest of the world, but vastly better than what I have now. Currently, if I maxed my connection out 24/7 (Which I really wouldn’t do), I could use over one TB of bandwidth in a 31 day period, about 960G down and about 160G up. For $65/mo, my Internet completely stops working after 60G (Up and down combined) and I have to physically phone them for more…in 10G chunks at $24.99 per chunk…so $2.50/G. The Shaw packages would seem like a dream to me.

  16. How refreshing …
    While we will have to see if this will indeed create changes in pricing and overall behavior of the Canadian marketplace, I have to give big kudos to Shaw for actually listening to customer needs.

    The art of listening to your customers and delivering products they WANT is a skill I thought was almost extinct. [Pay attention media industries]

    If shaw was available here I would be all over them like a buck in the Spring 😉

  17. A good start, but…
    Overall, it mainly sounds like positives but there are a few issues. Caps – I personally have never had a problem with caps as long as the base transfer quota is high enough (which this certainly is a good starting point) and the price per GB is reasonable, in the dimes/GB, not dollars.

    However there are also other solutions, from what I understand providers in places like Australia have caps and when you reach it, they simply lower your speed down for the rest of the month. Again, with sufficiently generous base quotas this sounds like a possible solution.

    As for migrating users off analogue cable, one reason I’m still analogue only is I have a homebrew MythTV box. With digital only and no clear QAM or Cable Card, third party PVRs (Tivos, even VCRs for the less technological) become very difficult to implement. The CRTC needs to examine this area of cable service and ensure some provision is in place to prevent a PVR monopoly. Regulations like the US with firewire being mandated to be enabled, clear QAM for basic cable channels, even a cable card roll out so third party equipment can read the encrypted data stream.

    Otherwise, overall I’m happy with the exception of these caveats.

  18. Byte me
    Together is Amazing! but alone in your room with multiple terabytes is pretty good too!

  19. CalgaryBurbs says:

    Less than Meets the Eye
    While Shaw’s efforts look good in comparison, in reality they have given the tap a quarter-turn and trumped it up to launch a short-term campaign and extract higher prices in the long run. Their bundling policies are still punitive, and caps are still caps, whether or not they call them “UBB.” I was at the meeting, and still find their credibility gap to be significant. Certainly they had always to knock off the analog TV channels, as will all cablecos. They refuse to discuss how their usage measurement changed in the past months and how they lowered caps several times, only to raise them again after the outrage peaked. So it’s a step in the right direction, and might prompt response from other ISPs, but UBB by any other name…

  20. Hannah Newman says:

    Pleasantly surprised
    I am now a relatively happy Shaw customer. I never thought that Shaw would actually listen to its customers and that its consultations were just a PR exercise. We asked for unlimited plans and higher caps. Its new plans give exactly what people were asking for.

    I guess I was wrong and all my research into which indie ISP I would move to is not necessary for the present.

    It is clear now that UBB was not meant to solve a congestion issue (how could it?).

    Maybe Bell and Rogers customers need to get a lot more vocal in their opposition to what these companies are offering. We Shaw customers have shown it is possible to get them to change their ways.

  21. maebnoom says:

    “..something which no other internet provide has bothered to do.”
    Actually, plenty of small ISPs did this… without the consultations. But yeah, not the big guys.

  22. @Hannah Newman – you are happy because they were offering really bad deals in the past, sadly after this change they are only marginally better.
    There should not be a cap at all, this works well in many other countries, why not Canada?

  23. Looks to me that compared to my current 3rd party ISP unlimited plan, I could get the Broadband 50 capped plan that would provide enough download/upload data to meet my current needs (lots of video streaming) and provide maybe a doubling of download/upload speeds for an extra $20+ a month (although I’m not sure what the personal tv option means .. does that cost extra on top of the $84/mth? If so, then thta may make it far less attractive.)

    That alone would probably not be enough to make me switch (if Shaw were even an option in my area) but it’s not totally unreasonable (again without knowing what the heck personal tv really is.)

    The issues with me would be that this is based on my needs today, and if all my “tv” viewing for the whole family came through the Internet then my needs would probably need to triple. If they did, would it still be as cost effective as using a standard TV service and my current Internet profile?

    If the big providers are trying to force me over to the Internet for all my entertainment needs, providing little in the way of extra real entertainment value above what they currently offer through traditional means, and not providing me real and “atomic” choice as to what “entertainment” I want to view and pay for, and all for a price that is more than what I pay now, then I have serious issues.

    Not that I want to be a pessimists, but the history of the big providers does not put me at ease when they offer what seems at first glance to be a decent deal .. if it looks good, then that’s usually a sign they are setting you up to be gouged even more.

    Ideally I would want Internet plans that weren’t linked to any other services … bundling usually leads to “deals” that end up bing lock in to expensive crap designed to gouge you one way or the other.

  24. Between the $65/mo I pay for my tawdry Internet and the $85/mo I pay for my satellite, even if I had to get a cable package to go with the Internet, I could still come out ahead than where I am now. Unfortunately, it’ll never be available in my area, so I’m holding out hope than my indie ISP opens up their ridiculously low caps to a feasible level.

  25. Not far enough
    Bandwidth caps need to go, this doesn’t go far enough, but it is a welcome change in the right direction.

  26. Not Fooled says:

    Stockholm Syndrome
    This is nothing but the Stockholm Syndrome in that Shaw screws its customers badly, then screws them less and suddenly they’re a hero. Not fooled. Shaw’s plans are still way, way behind most other countries in the world.

  27. Stockholm Syndrome
    You may be right. But that still begs the question of why the other major ISP’s haven’t followed suit (yet).

    It is also a fairly significant step in the right direction, quite different than the other ISPs and the edicts from the CRTC.

    There is no denying that every ISP will attempt to maximize their margins. But in this case Shaw seems to have listened to their customers and struck a balance of sorts. In the absence of real competition, this is the best we can probably expect.

  28. IT Specialist
    It’s good news for anyone moving from Ontario to the western provinces. The cost of internet even before this announcement out west was a mere pittance compared with what people in Ontario pay.

  29. Reed Solomon says:

    Not too unreasonable, so that’s reasonable.
    Shaw does seem to be offering unlimited data on its highest and lowest packages. though i am dissapointed they don’t offer it on basic high speed as an option. However, they do bump you up to the next pricing tier if you go over your limit, so no stupid $2 per gig overage plan. And then you’re back to your regular levels the next month. So if you use over 750GB, you’re paying the unlimited 100 plan price for that month. And that’s the highest you pay. That’s not unreasonable. If I’m reading it correctly. I have the option of switching to MTS though and bundling my unlimited data plan with unlimited home internet..

  30. Also pleasantly surprised…
    But disappointed there’s no standalone pricing; and also that the UL speeds aren’t even attempting to be anywhere close to symmetric; 15 up is 6% of the 250 down; I always thought 20 to 50% should be the low-end for UL, and there should be a symmetric tier…

    And I wish they’d use this opportunity to add IPv6, given they’re clearly overhauling a ton of stuff

  31. Fools
    It just means huge Elacoya throttling under the hood. Thanks to all the loser commenting above. Shaw has been channel bonding for 2 years when they first announced it.

  32. Hindgrinder says:

    Copper Cowboys – Wild Wild West!
    Yeee Haw!
    Time to hang up that rotting Telus DSL loop and saddle up with some Hybrid Fibre Coax 250/15.
    Pack up the dogs mah…it’s time to move west.


  33. Other ISP
    I’m surprised it’s taking other ISPs so long to respond in some sort of press release to this, at least the major ones (Telus, Bell, Rogers, etc). Along with people jumping ship in overlap areas with Shaw, they must my getting an enormous amount of correspondence (E-mail, phone, etc.) as a result.

    I e-mailed my crappy little indie ISP questioning whether they were considering similar actions in light of the Shaw press release (And the obvious debunking of Bell’s claims for the need UBB). So far, no response was the bold reply.

    This must have the other ISPs in Canada just reeling.

  34. You make Shaw look like angels. The sad truth is that if they actually gave a shit about their customers you never would have needed to waste time telling them you needed larger caps.

    What are you going to do 2 years from now when a cap of 200gig is likely going to be tiny compared to the rest of the world? pay more? complain more?

    Grow a set of balls and move over to 3rd party providers who actually give you unlimited bandwidth for lower prices. If 3rd parties can do this, then so should these large telecoms.

    That’s the only way to humble these telecom dinosaurs.

  35. Way to go Shaw!

  36. The Layoff Set Precedence
    The only reason Shaw is making changes is they have LOST substantial business, this was seen by the laying off of over 5,000 workers. They are trying to desperately hold onto what they have and not lose anymore clients than they already have. The future is bleak for a company wavering on the brink of complete failure.

  37. Your last sentence highlighted the true reasoning behind UBB
    “”Rather, UBB in Canada is simply a cash grab by network providers with sufficient market power to demand it.””

    I have commented in other places UBB was (and still is as I don’t think we have seen the final CRTC ruling which if I recall was “postponed” conveniently until after the election and with the Conservatives now in power, I expect will not be favourable for the Canadian public) solely about squeezing potential competition (Netflix initially, plus other more recent potential entrants), and the oligopoly we are stuck with in Canada price taking from a defenseless public.

    Canada is the banana republic of all banana republics where telecommunications service delivery to consumers is concerned. We pay the most for the least. The current OECD reports are just more recent proof of this.

    I have zero confidence that the current federal Hitler (oops I mean Harper) govt will improve things in any meaningful way for the average Canadian – Bill C32 new warrantless spying provisions are just another example of this. They play to their audience (their corporate masters) and damn the majority of us.

  38. fordomatic69 says:

    Rural Canadians are being left behing AGAIN!!
    I live on a farm in Rural Ontario, you know, a farm, where we grow the food you all eat? We only have 3 high speed internet choices here, #1 Wireless Towers @ 3Mbps or less (restricted to coverage areas only), #2 3G phone network via Rogers/Bell @ 7Mbps (rarely) with 10GB soft caps and massive overage charges and #3 satellite which has massive initial investment and big monthly fees. When is there going to be a focus on rural Canada? I’d love to get 100Mbps download speed, heck I’d be happy with the 25Mbps. Can we get this problem moved up a few notches on the priority list????