Shaw Cable Plans to Implement Usage Based Billing in Late Spring

With the explosion of internet video, services such as Netflix Canada are prospering. The only thing stopping this is the controversy over usage-based billing (UBB). Earlier this year, Bell was caught up in a media firestorm over their plans to implement UBB to resellers such as Teksavvy.

The big telecom operators in this country are indeed scared. The UBB saga was a huge controversy, and it appears it’s not over yet. A recent conference call to Shaw Cable investors has revealed the company plans to implement UBB, after bowing out earlier in the year to avoid a media blitz. Here’s what they said when Bell was getting roasted by consumers during the height of UBB, as reported by Gillian Shaw of the Vancouver Sun:

“We’re putting everything on hold,” Bissonnette said in an interview. “We’re not going to enforce the caps, we’re going to spend the next couple of months hearing from our customers.”

The furore has clearly damaged what Bissonnette characterizes as the company’s good customer relationships.

“This is also about relationships,” he said. “We really pride ourselves on having really positive relationships with customers and we want that to continue.”

Canadians have short term memories, and our telcos know this. Fast forward to their recent April 13th conference call, and what CEO Bradley Shaw had to say:

“We are of the mind that we still have a tremendous upside in terms of pricing power on our Internet services and through the course of our consultations with our customers, I think what we’ve seen from that is a recognition that the principle of ‘if you use more, you should pay more’ holds true,”

“But we believe as we work our way through some of the feedback we received from them that there really is a win-win for our shareholders [as all of] their customers in the way we offer our tiers of Internet services.”

Mr. Shaw said the company would have more to say about its new pricing and packaging plans in the “late spring, probably May, early June.”

“People have said to us, let’s not divide the Internet product today,” Mr. Shaw said. “Let’s figure out how to create a world-class Internet experience and then we can figure out how to do pricing and packaging from there. So, we think it would be reasonable to get further clarity before we’re going to go back and talk to some more customers about it. You’ll probably read about it on the social media like you seem to be reading about all the stuff, which is great and probably have more formal announcements end of May or early June.”

Wow. Talk about a huge turnaround of events. I wonder what these plans will be like when they are announced. UBB is a huge threat to companies such as Netflix in Canada, and others that are reliant on internet use. What can we do? Sign this petition at if you haven’t already.

Are you a Shaw customer? How do you feel about their upcoming UBB plans?

[Financial Post]