Shaw Mobile will start with two plans: “By The Gig” and “Unlimited Data”. By The Gig plans cost $ 0 per month and include unlimited nationwide calling and texting. Additionally, customers can purchase 1GB of data for $ 10 if they need it – that data rolls over for up to 90 days if they don’t use it in a single billing cycle.
As for the unlimited data plan, it costs $ 45 per month for 25GB of data, followed by unlimited usage at a limited speed. There is also an additional $ 10 for roaming options in the United States and Mexico.
The plans come with caller ID and voicemail and an activation fee of $ 20.
Compared to what the competition offers – around $ 35 for most unlimited talk and text plans and $ 85 for most 20GB unlimited plans – it sounds too good to be true.
Understanding the Shaw Mobile Network
As with everything, there are a few caveats to be aware of. First, Shaw Mobile’s best prices are reserved for its Internet customers. Regular rates are higher; $ 15 per month for the By The Gig plan – which is still pretty good – and $ 85 for the Unlimited Data plan. A residential account can add up to six lines at $ 0.
Shaw Mobile builds on the company’s rapidly expanding gigabit wired internet. Mobile customers will use Shaw’s home Wi-Fi service, the company’s Wi-Fi hotspot network and Shaw’s LTE network.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Shaw Mobile is only available in Alberta and British Columbia at the moment. However, the plans are nationwide and will work in other provinces with Shaw Mobile’s roaming partners. It should be noted that the unlimited data plan works similarly to Freedom Mobile in that the 25 GB allocation is available on Shaw’s network while customers outside of this (on “Shaw Nationwide”) have a limit of 2 GB.
In a sense, this means that Shaw Mobile’s network is not a traditional mobile data network, although it does have one to fall back on. For example, a typical user would have access to SMS and calls on their Shaw Internet service. If they leave home and go to a mall or library with Shaw’s “Go WiFi” service, their phones will work on that. When there is no Wi-Fi network available, Shaw Mobile phones can use corporate LTE.
It’s a simple strategy that could prove to be effective. McAleese said Shaw watched and learned from U.S. cable companies who launched similar networks. However, according to McAleese, a key difference is that Shaw is a facilities-based provider and in fact has a mobile network. Many American businesses have had to rely on a wholesale mobile network, which has made things less economical.
McAleese also spoke about Shaw’s Fiber + Internet, which has recently seen significant growth. Shaw says its Fiber + Gig network, which offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps, is now connected to over a million more homes than its next closest competitor.
As for Freedom Mobile, it looks like the regional carrier will continue as is. McAleese explained that the company sees the two as complementary.
The small details
For those wondering why Shaw decided to launch its new mobile service in the midst of a pandemic, McAleese said now is the best time.
On the one hand, COVID-19 has hit Western Canada hard. McAleese said hundreds of thousands of people are recently unemployed and there is a lot of financial stress. From that perspective, offering great value plans like those from Shaw Mobile makes a lot of sense.
On the flip side, the Canadian government just released its first report on the progress – or lack thereof – on its goals of cutting cell phone costs by 25% in Canada. Shaw Mobile meets and exceeds the government’s monthly cost target.
McAleese also noted that the pricing for the plan available at launch would be “launch”. He did not say how long it would be available, but did indicate it was not permanent and may change eventually.
In addition, Shaw Mobile will offer devices, including the latest iPhones and Samsung phones. McAleese confirmed that Shaw will provide subsidies for the devices, but did not speak about exact prices.
However, McAleese expects the majority of its customers to bring their own devices. Like other carriers, Shaw Mobile requires a SIM card and will also support eSIM devices. For now, McAleese says new customers will need to visit a Shaw store to make sure their phones are properly configured for the network.
This includes 19 Shaw retail stores across British Columbia and Alberta with 12 new stores opening in the coming weeks and more than 120 locations with Shaw’s national retail partners including Walmart and PC Mobile.
A new store and a fresh new brand
Speaking of stores, McAleese took a virtual tour of the new Shaw store at Calgary’s Market Mall. Shaw’s stores still focus on TV – McAleese describes it as the “heartbeat” of what Shaw does – but also has space for the internet and mobile products.
Shaw says he designed the new spaces for exploration, learning, and interactivity, but also kept physical distance in mind. The company says it will continue to adhere to health and safety protocols.
Plus, Shaw is refreshing his brand with more life and activity. This includes a new “Brighter Together” call to action and new advertisements highlighting the company’s new services.
Overall, Shaw Mobile should prove to be an exciting new choice for customers in Western Canada. While limited in some ways, the value of the plans is clear. Existing Shaw customers are likely to find this offering attractive and hopefully it will stimulate competition in the Canadian mobile market.
You can learn more about Shaw Mobile on the company’s website.
Update of 07/30/2020 at 7:55 am: He said Shaw Mobile plans would be available to non-Shaw Internet customers at higher “market rates”.
Image Credit: Shaw Communications