Shaw Communications Inc. is a Canadian telecommunications company which provides telephone, Internet, television, and mobile services all backed by a fibre optic network. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Shaw provides services mostly in British Columbia and Alberta, with smaller systems in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Northern Ontario. Through its subsidiary Freedom Mobile, Shaw provides mobile services in urban areas of British Columbia, Alberta, and Southern Ontario. The company's chief competitor is Telus Corporation.
Shaw was founded as Capital Cable Television Company, Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1966. The company changed its name to Shaw Cablesystems Ltd. and went public on the TSX in 1983. The company grew during the 1980s and 1990s through acquisitions of firms including Classicomm in the Toronto area, Access Communications in Nova Scotia, Fundy Cable in New Brunswick, Trillium Cable in Ontario, Telecable in Saskatchewan, Greater Winnipeg Cablevision (serving areas east of the Red River), and Videon Cablesystems of Winnipeg (serving areas west of the Red River), which had itself previously acquired Vidéotron's assets in Alberta. However, two swaps, in 1994 and 2001, with Rogers Cable have resulted in its assets being restricted to Western Canada and a few areas of Northern Ontario. In 1999, Shaw spun out its media properties into a second publicly-traded company, Corus Entertainment. In 2001 the Moffat family sold Videon Cablesystems to Shaw.
Prior to 2003, Shaw owned cable systems in the United States previously owned by Moffat Communications, serving six communities in Florida (Eastern Pasco County, Clermont, Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, West Palm Beach and Doral), and the Houston, Texas suburbs of Kingwood, Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. In February 2003, the Florida systems would be sold to Time Warner Cable (with the West Palm Beach and Doral systems later sold to Comcast, and the other systems spun off to Bright House Networks), while the Texas systems were sold to Cequel III, as part of its then-Cebridge Connections subsidiary (now Suddenlink Communications).
In 2008, Shaw entered the AWS spectrum auction with the intention of possibly becoming a wireless phone provider. The auction ended July 2008, giving Shaw Communications enough spectrum to build a wireless network in its home provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. This spectrum ultimately went unused and was sold to Rogers Communications in January 2013.
In July 2009, Shaw announced its acquisition of Mountain Cablevision; in September, Rogers sued Shaw to block the sale, citing violations of a non-compete clause. However, the suit was quickly dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court. The purchase was approved by the CRTC on October 22, 2009. The acquisition was Shaw's first cable property east of Sault Ste. Marie since the 2001 swaps with Rogers and Cogeco. Shaw's re-entry into Southern Ontario would be short-lived, as its Hamilton system would be resold to Rogers in January 2013 as part of a deal which also saw unused wireless spectrum sold to the company, and saw Rogers sell its stake in specialty channel TVtropolis.
On April 30, 2009, Shaw announced a deal to acquire three television stations — CHWI-TV in Windsor, Ontario, CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ontario and CKX-TV in Brandon, Manitoba — from CTVglobemedia. CTV had indicated that it would shut down the stations, all of which were incurring extensive financial losses, later in the year if a buyer could not be found, and had placed them on the market at a price of just $1 each. However, it was reported on June 30, 2009 that Shaw has backed out of the deal and is declining to complete the purchase. CHWI-TV would remain on the air as is; CKNX-TV would become a repeater of London station CFPL-TV in September 2009, while CKX-TV would close down entirely in October 2009.
In February 2010, Shaw announced an agreement with the financially troubled Canwest, whereby Shaw would buy an 80% voting interest, and 20% equity interest, in the restructured entity of Canwest, pending approvals from the CRTC and others. Three months later, following negotiations with rival bidders, the company said it would purchase the entirety of Canwest's broadcasting assets, including the interests in the CW Media subsidiary partially held by Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Canwest's newspapers were not part of the Shaw deal and were sold separately to Postmedia Network.
In November 2012, Shaw underwent a corporate re-branding, introducing an updated logo and slogan, along with a new promotional campaign featuring animated robots (including two named mascot robots, Bit and Bud) that live in a representation of Shaw's infrastructure, depicting them as being responsible for how their services work. The campaign was designed by the Vancouver-based agency Rethink, who were also responsible for Bell Canada's beaver characters Frank and Gordon.
In February 2015, Shaw Communications announced that they would close operations for service call centers in Edmonton, Calgary and Kelowna, and consolidate operations in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. 1,600 of Shaw's 14,000 employees were affected by the consolidation and cuts. The company offered affected employees the option to relocate to its centralized offices, apply for a new job at their location, or leave the company with a severance package for former employees unable to relocate.
In 2013, Shaw attempted to begin developing an IPTV-based platform for its television services. However, after experiencing issues developing the platform, Shaw took a $55 million write-down in June 2015, and announced that it was licensing Comcast's cloud-based X1 architecture. In January 2016, Shaw launched its mobile television app FreeRange TV, based on X1 infrastructure, which allows Shaw subscribers to stream selected TV channels and on-demand content.
On December 16, 2015, Shaw announced its proposed acquisition of independent wireless provider Wind Mobile from its investors in a deal worth approximately $1.6 billion. The transaction closed on March 1, 2016. Under Shaw, the company was renamed Freedom Mobile in November 2016, coinciding with the launch of its 4G LTE network. The acquisition of Wind was funded by a reorganization in April 2016, which saw the Shaw Media unit transferred to Corus Entertainment, in exchange for $1.85 billion in cash and 71,364,853 class B non-voting shares of Corus. The sale did not include Shaw's 50% stake in the Shomi streaming service and CJBN-TV Kenora; Shomi was shut down in November 2016 and CJBN-TV Kenora was shut down in January 2017.
On January 11, 2017, Shaw announced the launch of BlueSky—a new IPTV-based television service based on Comcast's X1 platform. The service was initially made available in Calgary.
Shaw is the parent of Shaw Broadcast Services (previously Shaw Satellite Services, Canadian Satellite Communications, or Cancom) and, through Shaw Broadcast Services, Shaw Direct, one of Canada's two national direct broadcast satellite providers. For many years it also owned a number of radio stations and specialty television services; these assets were later spun off into Corus Entertainment in an effort to satisfy a now-repealed CRTC policy discouraging cross-ownership of cablesystems and specialty services.
In December 2010, Shaw filed complaints with the CRTC to have competing internet video services such as Netflix classified as broadcasters under Canadian law. In the same month, Shaw introduced usage based billing on internet plans and lowered plan caps an average of 25% while introducing overage fees of $1 to $2 per gigabyte. On February 8, 2011, Shaw agreed to put a hold on usage based billing for its services and to this date continues to not charge customers any overages for surpassing Internet Data caps.
Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton