On Wednesday, Shaw dropped a bombshell to announce it was buying wireless startup WIND Mobile for $1.6 billion. In an updated Globe and Mail piece regarding the acquisition, Shaw CEO Brad Shaw answered questions regarding the company’s new wireless ambitions.
Shaw noted “Wireless was a missing piece,” and the addition of WIND means the company can now compete with its main rival, TELUS, one of Canada’s wireless leaders, while also battle Shaw for TV and Internet customers out West.
“Now we’re on the same page, we’re at the same level … and we’ve improved our competitive position in Western Canada just by doing this deal, let alone the opportunity in the East,” said Shaw.
As for the company’s wireless plans, Shaw explains the wireless company will be the “small guy” and “come in, guerrilla, tactical, and just do it a little differently,” instead of being an incumbent resting on their laurels.
Shaw compared their entry into the wireless arena “similar to what Telus did to us,” referring to TELUS’ entry into Alberta and BC with its Optik TV service, which utilizes Internet protocol television.
TELUS employed convincing salespeople to pound the pavement door-to-door, offering numerous incentives for Shaw TV customers to switch–either in the form of credits or high value items such as free Samsung TVs (on contract). Clearly, these strategies are working.
As for prices of the new Shaw-WIND network? The CEO explains prices will be “somewhat discounted,” but as the company goes forward, “probably closer to the incumbents,” in order to increase ARPU (average revenue per user).
“Growth is very important to us and that’s going to be a key driver, as well as making sure consumers feel there’s value,” said Shaw.
The acquisition of WIND Mobile means “We’re immediately in the space, we’re immediately able to deliver new things to our customers,” touted Shaw.
Shaw acquired AWS licenses in 2008, but soon abandoned its wireless plans three years later, opting to roll out a widespread Wi-Fi network instead, which currently stands at 75,000 hot spots across Western Canada, seen as a selling proposition for customers.
Shaw later sold its unused AWS spectrum to Rogers in 2013, but the deal only finalized this summer as part of Rogers’ acquisition of Mobilicity, which also saw a transfer of valuable spectrum to WIND Mobile.
WIND Mobile currently has 940,000 customers in BC, Alberta and Ontario. The company’s wireless network will soon deploy LTE with the assistance of Nokia, which surely will help increase customers, as the network will be able to support newer smartphones like the iPhone.
Until then, WIND customers get value compared to the Big 3 in terms of pricing, but it’s currently a “you get what you pay for” scenario, depending on your area’s cell coverage.
On a side note—a while back we switched from Shaw to TELUS for TV and Internet, along with numerous friends and family too. I can see why Shaw’s CEO would be eager to mention they can now rival TELUS in another space. TELUS is doing many things right with Optik TV and Internet.