Shaw decided earlier this year not to pursue building a 3G network in Western Canada, likely due to prohibitively expensive upfront infrastructure costs. Instead, they went with a ubiquitous WiFi network that will allow users to make phone calls over VOIP services like Skype or Tango, but will mainly be used by existing Shaw customers in high-density areas like malls and restaurants for data-only activities.
The limited rollout — currently small areas of Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver — will hopefully keep mobile phone users from defecting in large numbers to Telus, Bell or Rogers for their smartphone needs, since the high-speed WiFi hotspots will have unlimited data.
Coverage is going to expand over time to hundreds, and eventually thousands, of hotspots throughout Western Canada over the next three years. Whether it will have an effect on the incumbent wireless carriers remains to be seen, but it appears the WiFi rollout is a defensive move against Telus’ impressive Optik IPTV offering.
Source: Financial Post