2+2 Does Not = 5 and Copper Coax is Not Fibre

Sorry, Paul McAleese, Shaw’s cable network doesn’t match the capabilities of the Bell or Telus fibre to the home. That you offer a gigabit download to 99% of your customers is a great advance, worth trumpeting. It’s especially welcome where the telco hasn’t upgraded to fibre. But coaxial cable is not fibre; calling it fibre+ is simply false advertising.

Shaw’s upstream is “up to 25 Mbps.” Where Telus has fiber to the home, the upstream can go up to 940 Mbps. Neither company releases actual speeds, but I can tell by the network design what customers can expect. Shaw customers will get 20 Mbps upstream at least 90% of the time. Telus fibre customers will get 400 Mbps upstream at least 90% of the time. (Almost all networks are shared, but a decently designed network rarely see serious degradation. All the Canadian networks are well-designed.)

Telus took Shaw to court on the misleading claim. In the U.S., advertisers are allowed some “puffery,” so I don’t know what the court will decide. Shaw is defending vigorously, mostly by confusing the issue with irrelevant technical datapoints. It would have been smarter to concede the semantics and point to the facts of upgraded cable – including that it’s available in many locations where the telcos don’t offer fibre.

Eight years ago, DOCSIS introduced systems for much faster upstream. They haven’t been used. I recommended to Mike Fries of Liberty Global, then the world’s 2nd largest cableco, that Liberty move rapidly to fast upstream, which would be a major sales advantage over DSL. Mike told me he didn’t think customers would demand the higher speed and in practice few have. 

We need the fastest upstream we can get because Jennie does video professionally. Those files are huge. Smartphone videos are also big and most of us have a smartphone. It’s now time for faster upstreams but cable is tied up in a struggle over which technology to use. John Chapman of Cisco, the driving force behind DOCSIS, expected the cablecos would upgrade to Full Duplex and a very fast upstream when he spoke to me three years ago. But some of the companies believe the cost of the DAA field units is too high and are looking at less expensive techniques. Meanwhile, TimeWarner here in New York and Shaw in Canada have upstreams much slower than fiber to the home. 

All modern networks are based on fibre; saying that Shaw’s network has lots of fibre is about as interesting as saying a car runs on wheels.

A convoy cannot go faster than the speed of the slowest ship. Your Internet speed is determined by the slowest link in the chain. That’s almost always the physical connection to your home.

There are many other places along the chain that could be a bottleneck but in practice there is usually more than enough capacity in the rest of the network. It’s almost all fiber. Digging fiber is expensive but adding capacity to existing fiber is cheap, Most links are over-provisioned and upgraded before congestion problems develop. Bell Canada told the CRTC that when traffic reaches 80% of fibre capacity, it’s upgraded. That’s common industry practice.

Many parts of the system are shared, including GPON fiber and the cable local loop. Statistical multiplexing (sharing) works remarkably well for the local Internet. Telcos used to claim DSL was better because cable was shared. My research, to my surprise, showed that the sharing very rarely made a difference.

Shaw would be well-advised to limit claims to those that make sense, including the wider gigabit coverage. 

Telus can, and probably should, publicize a simple test of upstream speeds and make the difference clear. 

 

 Here’s Shaw’s announcement. Note it has no information about upstream speeds.

 

Shaw launches Fibre+ Gig: The largest deployment of gigabit speeds for residential internet customers in Western Canada

With Fibre+ Gig, virtually all Shaw customers can stream, game and connect on more devices at the same time while enjoying superior performance

May 27, 2020

CALGARY, May 27, 2020 – Starting today, millions of Western Canadians now have access to gigabit speeds in their homes with the launch of Fibre+ Gig, a new internet product from Shaw Communications Inc. that offers residential customers gigabit download speeds along with the abundance of bandwidth needed to simultaneously enable the many data-intensive applications that they’ve come to depend on.

“Customers today trust in and rely on their home technology like never before, which is why we have continued investing in growing our Fibre+ network and services — more than $20 billion over the past seven years — to bring Western Canadians the blazing fast speeds and bandwidth they need to power their connected lives,” said Paul McAleese, President, Shaw Communications. “Because of our continuous investments, homes in even the smallest communities that we serve can get the same fast Fibre+ Gig speeds that customers in Vancouver or Calgary are able to enjoy.”

Fibre+ Gig is the most broadly available plan for gigabit speeds in all of Western Canada — now available to more than 99 per cent of Shaw’s residential customers — because of the strategic and ongoing investments Shaw has made to its Fibre+ network. Shaw has offered gigabit speeds to business customers of all sizes since March 2019.

“The best connectivity experiences should not be just restricted to people living in large urban centres. Shaw’s Fibre+ Gig is a huge win for millions of people across Western Canada who have never before had access to these speeds,” Mr. McAleese said.

New internet products for all needs and budgets to complement existing tiers

In addition to rolling out the fastest speeds ever available to its customers, Shaw launched a new entry-level internet plan and a new lineup of internet tiers, giving customers a full range of choices depending on their connectivity needs:

Fibre+ Gig: With speeds of up to one gigabit-per-second (Gbps), customers can download a full high-definition movie in a matter of seconds. Fibre+ Gig is available with unlimited data for $115 monthly on a 2-year ValuePlan.

Fibre+ 750: A new service tier, with download speeds of up to 750 megabits-per-second (Mbps) and starting at $110 per month on a 2-year ValuePlan with unlimited data.

Basic 10: Launched in response to customers’ recent demands for more affordable plans, Basic 10 starts at $50 per month on a 2-year ValuePlan, with download speeds of up to 10 Mbps.

More information about Shaw’s new internet products can be found at shaw.ca/internet/plans.

Using Shaw’s self-connect program, existing customers can easily upgrade their in-home internet package and hardware or add new services quickly, easily and on their own terms. New customers can get access to the fastest internet speeds available without the hassle of scheduling a service appointment, needing to interact with a technician, or wait for network upgrades in their neighbourhood.

Shaw’s Fibre+ network is one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in North America. Shaw feeds fibre into every neighborhood it services, allowing customers to access incredible speeds, travelling over a 99.9 per cent fibre route, complemented by highly robust and futureproof coaxial cable.

Offering customers even more value to go along with faster speeds and unlimited data, all internet plans from Internet 150 and above come with the premium Shaw BlueCurve Gateway modem. The DOCSIS 3.1-based modem serves as the hub of the BlueCurve suite of technology that gives customers enhanced speed, coverage and control.

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