Last month we noted
that Canadian cable operator Shaw the downstream speed of their Extreme tier from 15 Mbps to 25 Mbps, while giving the upstream speed a slight bump from 1 Mbps to 2.5 Mbps -- promising additional speed changes would be coming soon. Users in our Shaw forum
direct our attention to the fact that Shaw has now unveiled their new speeds, caps and pricing
, which an insider states will be going live on June 7. The important news is that it appears that Shaw has eased off of the caps slightly, and is giving users two different options for data.
Option one: users can stick to Shaw's existing speed tiers and pricing, but will immediately see considerably higher caps. Shaw Lite 1 Mbps customers will see their cap raised from 15GB a month to 30 GB a month, Shaw 7.5 Mbps standard customers will see their cap raised from 60 GB to 125 GB a month, and Shaw Extreme customers will see their cap raised from 150 GB to 250 GB a month.
Option Two is more interesting, and shows that Shaw may have been listening to customer complaints after all. Starting in June Shaw will begin offering users 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps and even 250 Mbps tiers featuring much higher caps (see right). In July, Shaw will also start offering 250 Mbps down, 15 Mbps up tiers with caps as high as 1 TB. The company will also offer some unlimited tiers, albeit only at speeds of 1 Mbps or 250 Mbps.
With this second option, users are bumped to the next highest price/speed tier should they go over their usage allotment. Says Shaw:
Customers who choose one of the new packages will enter into an automatic upgrade program. Those who go over their data consumption will be placed in the next higher package for the remainder of the month. The following months data will be reset and customers will return to their original package unless they choose to stay at the higher level.
Some of Shaw's new choice is illusory. Most users will still probably find themselves sticking with Shaw's existing price structure due to lower cost, the ability to get standalone service, and the fact so few users really need a 50 Mbps connection. That means most Shaw customers will still have to deal with usage-based billing. The faster speeds, higher caps and unlimited use options also only appear available if you bundle traditional Shaw TV services, meaning that Shaw's still using UBB as a weapon against Internet video.
None of these faster speeds or unlimited consumption options appear available in standalone form. In short, Shaw's using the promise of higher speeds and no caps as a way to push users into bundling more services. That's something we've recently seen here in the States as well, with Washington Post
owned CableOne recently offering higher caps
only if you sign up for the triple play. Expect more ISPs to begin using higher caps to upsell bundles.
Still, Shaw at least indicates they're trying to be a little more creative with pricing, and the caps on their existing tiers are starting to look more reasonable. The response by users in our forums
is overall rather positive, though we'll keep an eye on how this pricing impacts consumers in practice. The move by Shaw comes as Canadian regulatory agency the CRTC preps for a hearing on usage-based billing this July.