Calgary, Canada -- Shaw Communications Inc. may apply
to launch its own satellite, in an effort to break the monopoly held by Bell Canada
Enterprises Inc. (BCE), the MSO's top executive said.
"We feel that it's time to have someone else in Canada
in the satellite business," Shaw president and CEO Jim Shaw said in an exclusive
Shaw's statement comes as a Dec. 15 application deadline
looms for Canada's 118.7-degrees West fixed-satellite slot. BCE's Telesat Canada unit,
which runs the country's "Anik" satellite fleet, wants to use the position for a
new pan-North America service. So far, it's the only applicant for the slot even though
Canadian laws have been changed to allow competitive satellite companies to enter into the
Other companies have been hesitant about applying for the
slot, due to the cost of a satellite project, said Harris Boyd, vice president of industry
affairs at the Canadian Cable Television Association.
"It's such an expensive proposition to put up a
satellite, even if you're a fairly big user," he said. "Very few companies have
the resources to do that, and Telesat, through Bell, is one of the few."
Price notwithstanding, Shaw is a logical choice to bid
against Telesat. Not only is Shaw Canada's second-largest MSO -- making it a natural
competitor for any telco -- but it also owns direct-to-home satellite service Star
Choice. The service is one of two Canadian-owned DTH platforms; the other is BCE's Bell
Shaw also owns a majority stake of Canadian Satellite
Communications, or Cancom, a company that provides satellite services using Telesat's
"I think there is a good possibility that Shaw will
have a look [at the satellite slot], and will proceed with an expression of interest [to
the Canadian government], and move to the next stage," Shaw said.
Three years ago, Shaw considered challenging Telesat for
Canada's first DTH-satellite slot, but never actually applied for it. Subsequently,
Telesat won the slot, and filled it with the "Nimiq" DTH bird.
Telesat vice president of corporate development Paul Bush
said the company isn't worried about Shaw's potential bid. It is instead focusing on
bigger players such as Hughes Electronics Corp., GE Americom, PanAmSat Corp., and Loral
Space & Communications.
Telesat is watching the heavyweights because it wants to
compete with them head-to-head -- something placement on the 118.7-degrees slot
satellite slot would allow it to do. The company hopes to offer "traditional services
and new services" throughout North America, Bush said, without providing more