RealTime IT News

Shaw Builds Big Pipe

Canada-based Shaw Communications Inc. Friday formed a new firm tasked with building a national fiber backbone for broadband Internet services.

Operating as Big Pipe Inc., the backbone buildout is set to become the primary means of big bandwidth transport for Shaw's high-speed services.

Jim Shaw, Shaw Communcations president and chief executive officer, said it needs to be capable of proving broadband access to a half million users by the end of next year.

"With over 250,000 high-speed Internet customers and anticipated doubling of this customer base in 2001, we are one of the largest consumers of Internet Backbone bandwidth in Canada," Shaw said. "As we continue to grow our high-speed Internet customer base and as demand for broadband applications and content grows with streaming video, audio and other multimedia rich content the demand for bandwidth will grow exponentially."

In March, Shaw Communications set aside $30 million to construct a fiber optic network connecting British Columbia and other regions, as part of company's $100 million fiber network buildout.

Shaw said the Big Pipe initiative completes a series of initiatives designed to expand its end-to-end broadband services.

"When completed, Big Pipe's fiber network will extend connectivity to all the major Internet peering points in Canada and the U.S. and provide our customers with fast, reliable access to the Internet and the Worldwide Web," Shaw said.

"Big Pipe will also be open for business to other Internet service providers and organizations that need end-to-end broadband connectivity to the Internet," he added.

Shaw has been in the television entertainment industry for more than 35 years. It partnered with Excite@Home in 1997 to deliver cable broadband services throughout Canada during its 1998 launch.

Shaw@Home added almost 85,000 new cable modem clients in 1999 and currently provided broadband access more than 250,000 customers. Its cable footprint is capable of providing access to 1.5 million potential subscribers.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Big Pipe will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Shaw Ventures Inc. A separate executive team will manage the backbone services.