Shaw to preview new internet packages

Yesterday, May 20th, I received an email from Shaw inviting me to attend a new customer consultation session in Edmonton this week.  In the invitation Shaw has told indicated that this consultation session is "another discussion as we look at our proposed Internet packaging."  A quick polling of some friends who attended the first round of sessions, as well as a quick search on several internet forums indicate that there are other sessions planned, however I have no further details on how many or where they will be.  The emails all seem to have gone out yesterday afternoon, so information is still coming in.

As you can imagine, this has come straight out of the blue.  The first customer consultation sessions took place in March, and a lot happened in them, which you can read here.  After the session the representatives from Shaw did say that they planned to keep the customer base involved as time went on, however I did not expect this development at all.  I get the sense that big things are happening, but I just don't know what. I'm sure I will find out more this week.

In the post I linked to earlier I speculated on what I think the eventual plans will be, but in reality I don't know what is actually going to be proposed at these sessions.  Because I don't know what to expect, I'm neither optimistic, or nervous.  I'm just interested; very interested.

As per usual, I will be posting my thoughts after the consultation session this week. Look for it later in the week. You can also follow me on twitter for information as I can provide it.

For my complete coverage over the last few months regarding Shaw, and Usage Based Internet Billing in general, click here.

The New Shaw Reality-Bandwidth caps: wrapping it all together

As of January 1 of this year, Shaw has implemented some very significant changes to it's internet pricing structure that is going to affect a great number of users in the future.  They have decided to place a cap on how much data every user can download per month, and are starting to charge overage fees for users go over.  This is going to have a massive impact on how people use the internet going forward, and almost none of it is good.  I have written three articles about this subject, trying to make it as simple as possible for people to understand, since the information coming from Shaw has not been very clear. Part 1 is by far the largest, and gives the majority of the details about what exactly is happening, what this will effect, and what you can expect. It also details how shaw has communicated this to users, or lack of that communication.

The New Shaw Reality - Bandwidth Caps

This article spawned such a large response to me that I was compelled to write a followup article with new and expanded details.  This article is a bit shorter, and more focused based on the feedback I was given.  It compares Shaw to other ISP's in Canada, how this situation was allowed to happen, and answers a couple questions that were most common in my feedback.

The New Shaw Reality - Bandwidth Caps: How This Came to Be

The last post talks a bit about how users can monitor their bandwidth, including the options from Shaw.  Admittedly this article may not be that clear or easy, but that says more about the state of how difficult it is to actually monitor your bandwidth than anything.  The short version is that it actually isn't easy to do, especially for situations with multiple users and devices that share one connection.

The New Shaw Reality - Bandwidth Caps: How Can I Monitor My Usage

What I have written is really only a small piece of this pie.  I wrote these mainly because as small bits of information that were getting out to the general public people that I know were asking me if I knew anything about it.  And I really didn't want to say the same story 100 times.  The response that I have received to these articles has been much larger than I thought they would be, and I think speaks volumes to the complete lack of information that has been available.  Shaw representatives have pointed out to me that they do have page on their website which does explain it, however the vast majority of users simply have no idea that such a significant change has been made to their service, and that is not right.

This issue is not restricted to just Shaw.  Most major ISP's in Canada now place limits on internet plans.  I learned a lot during this whole process and most of it is not good.  For information about the entire topic of Usage Based Billing, and the ISP limits in general, a great resource I have used is, which has a lot of information about this subject, and is a definite read if you are looking for more information.  They have compiled most of the official news releases, and also try to explain the concept as well.  I also gathered information from other Shaw users on, where there is a user community that I gleamed the majority of the information for my first piece from.

As you read through this, please pass this information on to everyone you know who uses Shaw, or on a more general term anyone who uses Shaw, Rogers, or Bell in Canada, as this is an issue that affects them, and they may not know it.  Knowledge is power, and unfortunately there is simply not enough knowledge about this issue for the general consumer.

Why the CRTC needs an overhaul – Part 2

This is the second part of my post/rant about the CRTC.  You can find part one here.

In part one I briefly talked about the protectionism the CRTC takes with regards to Canadian content.  I want to talk a bit about how the CRTC handles TV, and how it is really limiting how Canadians can get TV shows legally through new media sources, namely the internet.

I am going to start by explaining where the United States stands in online media.  It’s a fairly simple process in the US.  Fox produces the show 24, and they have full rights to that show to distribute it however they want.  24 can be watched on regular TV, it can be purchased on the iTunes store, and it can be legally watched online on various websites, most notably hulu.  Through all of these, Fox collects a royalty.  It collects a percentage of the sales on iTunes, as well as revenue from advertisements on both the broadcast TV and web versions.  The streaming web versions have advertisements just like the broadcast TV does.  in the year since hulu launched, it has exploded in popularity.  The people that visit the site do not care that there are ads in the shows.  they appreciate that they can watch the shows online, and are more than willing to sit through normal ads.  This model is proving very successful, and more and more shows are appearing on the web in either a paid downloadable form, or an ad-supported streaming fashion.

Now, lets move over to the Canadian logistics. In Canada, Global TV has paid for the right to show 24 on it’s network.  This means that Global has full rights to the show in Canada.  Under CRTC rules, Global simulcasts 24 fox in the US, except that the fox channel in Canada is dubbed over the the Global broadcast.  This means that the Fox broadcast is not seen at all in Canada.  This is to ensure that all ads shown on TV are the Canadian ads.  This I have no problem with(except for the super bowl of course.  I want those US ads).  where it gets muddy is the online space.  I will use the iTunes store and 24 as an example. 

Since Global owns the rights to 24 in Canada, it also owns the rights for all online broadcasts of the show as well.  for Apple to offer 24 on the iTunes store in Canada, they have to negotiate a deal with Fox, as it is the owner of the show as a whole.  Then, because Global owns the broadcast rights in Canada, Apple essentially has to negotiate the same deal again with Global.  this means that while Apple only has to negotiate one deal to offer 24 in the US, it has to negotiate 2 deals to offer 24 in Canada.  This means that they will have to pay fees to both Fox and Global, which, if any such deal can even be done, will likely mean that extra cost being passed onto the consumer who buys the show.  Apple has been reluctant to this point to have to pass that cost onto the consumer, so those deals have not been made.  To be fair, Global does offer it’s shows streaming on it’s website.  However, as of this writing, they have chosen not to allow other methods of streaming either through them, or through sub-licensing their rights to the show.

If you look on the iTunes store in Canada, there is a lot of Canadian content, as well as some US content.  Canadian content can be negotiated the same way the US content is in the US. if CBC produces a show, they own all the rights, so Apple only has to negotiate one deal to get the show on iTunes.  there are also several US networks and shows in Canada.  Those are shows that do not have a Canadian rights owner.  Meaning that there are no Canadian networks that broadcast them.  In that case Apple again only has to negotiate one deal for those shows, as there is no one who holds the rights to broadcast the shows in Canada.

What I would like to see the CRTC do is begin removing the online component of the Canadian network’s license to show US shows in Canada.  If they want those rights, they should have to negotiate them separately.  This would allow proper competition in the marketplace, instead of a monopoly of the Canadian networks over US content.  Let’s un-do the shackles, and let people actually innovate with TV delivery on the internet.  It’s the way of the future, and if the CRTC chooses not to allow this to happen, they risk having the country left behind as others innovate.

Twitter and the media

Yesterday Lynda Steele of Global TV Edmonton posted to Twitter asking for suggestions on how the media can effectively use Twitter, and asked for anyone to email her with suggestions to take to a newsroom meeting today.  This, along with the recent rush of Edmonton media flocking to Twitter really got me thinking about Twitter, Media, and the news in general.  I spent some time thinking about it, and did send her my thoughts.  I thought that I would put some of them down here.

Twitter is about the community. specifically in Edmonton there are people from all walks of life, from every corner of the city, and even the entire Capital Region that use Twitter.  that is a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can greatly enhance the media.  I personally believe that the key to using Twitter is not to simply use it as another medium for delivering the same news, but to make it actually part of the news process.  Currently, Global TV Edmonton uses Facebook effectively in that many news updates and clips are posted there, as well as user feedback on the fan page being read on the air.  However, Facebook does not have the same instant connection feeling that Twitter has.  Facebook is a good tool, and I hope that Global can continue to develop it as a tool and exploit it’s strengths to enhance the quality of their broadcasts.  I think they can do the exact same thing with Twitter, however in a different way.

My main suggestion to Ms. Steele was to exploit the Twitter community as much as possible.  Use Twitter not just as a tool for delivering the news, but use it in the information gathering process, use it in the reporting process, and use it in the dissemination of the news.  Make the Twitter community an active participant in the news.  There is such a diverse group on Twitter that is ready, willing, and able to be used.  Some of the specific suggestions I had were:

  • Use twitter to ask for quick, immediate feedback on a story
  • Use Twitter to have users submit interview questions
  • Utilize the fact that there are people from the entire Capital Region on Twitter by monitoring what is going on in the city
  • Find News stories on Twitter
    • If a user posts something interesting on Twitter, have a reporter investigate.  Ask questions to see what is going on.  Maybe a simple 140 character post can turn into the top story of the day.
    • If a user on Twitter sees news happen, use that person who is there as it is happening in gathering information on a story.
  • Make Twitter an active part of the news broadcasts.  Reaction to a news story can be gauged even before the story is over on the broadcasts.  make the comments part of the story.

What I don't want to see is Twitter simply being used like RSS.  Twitter is a powerful tool that connects people together unlike Facebook likely ever will.  It should be used, and exploited to improve the quality of the news, and the quality of the media.  I believe that, if used properly, Twitter can be a tool to improve the quality of the product that the Media delivers.  I cannot wait to see what Lynda Steele and the rest of the Global TV Edmonton team can come up with.  As someone who has been using Twitter since November of 2007 it is very exciting to me to see how much it has grown.  I think the media can further it’s growth even more.