Shaw is repositioning itself as an "enhanced connectivity provider," combining wired, WiFi and mobile network services in its broadband portfolio. That focus on connectivity has a corollary, however. It also means that Shaw wants to devote fewer of its own resources for non-broadband services, and that's at least part of the reason Shaw is moving forward with the rollout of Comcast's X1 video platform.
Starting with a mobile viewing app, Shaw Communications Inc. launched its Free Range IPTV service based on the X1 platform back in January. Now the company says it's ready to start deploying X1 set-tops as well. (See Shaw 'Hatches' Free Range TV.)
"We will also be launching the X1 set-top box later this year and plan to have it available across our footprint by the end of [fiscal] '17," noted CEO Brad Shaw in Shaw's latest quarterly earnings report.
There is no word at the moment on which vendor company is behind the X1 set-top that Shaw will use. Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) (including its acquisition of Pace) is the primary X1 set-top supplier, but Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) (with the set-top business unit formerly owned by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)) and Samsung Corp. have also been tied to the latest iteration of Comcast X1 boxes, which are known as XG2. (See Pace Picks Up New Comcast Set-Top.)
What's also unknown right now is how widely Shaw plans to adopt the features of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s platform in its rollout. For example, Comcast recently confirmed that it will bring Netflix to the X1 platform, and X1 has become a central part of the company's Xfinity Home service for home security and home automation as well. (See Comcast Confirms Netflix Coming to X1 and Comcast Begins Revamp of Smart Home Products.)
In the US, Cox Communications Inc. is already deploying X1 set-tops. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts declared in May that his company wants to make the X1 platform available around the world. (See Comcast Boasts Global Plans for X1.)
In Shaw's quarterly earnings report, the company separately highlighted its launch of a new broadband service dubbed WideOpen Internet 150 (with downstream speeds up to 150 Mbits/s), and a plan to have DOCSIS 3.1 fully deployed throughout its hybrid fiber-coaxial network by fall of 2017, which is the end of Shaw's fiscal 2017 year.
Shaw completed an acquisition of Wind Mobile Corp. in March, marking this quarterly earnings report as the first with Shaw as a cellular network operator. The company now serves more than 1 million wireless subscribers, and Shaw's net income jumped substantially in the quarter as a result to C$704 million (US$541 million), up from C$209 million (US$161 million) in the year-ago quarter. Total revenue rose to C$1.28 billion (US$.98 million) from C$1.14 billion (US$.88 million) the year previous, but consumer subscriber numbers outside of the wireless business dropped to 5.24 million from 5.38 million.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading