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Shaw Communications gives preferential treatment to Shaw movie service

A new online movie service offered by Shaw will be exempt from the typical bandwidth caps the telecom company applies to other internet use--including use of rival video services like Netflix.

While customers of the American-based streaming movie provider will continue to pay for data consumed over a fixed limit, those who sign up for Shaw's Movie Club will have unlimited access to all available data for a flat fee.

This gives Shaw's service a potential price advantage over the competition that some consumer protection and net neutrality advocates say is unfair.

"The big telecom companies haven't made a secret of the fact that they find online services a threat to their other business," said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of, speaking to The Tyee in a telephone interview last month. "Usage based billing is a way for these companies to economically discriminate against competitors and to push consumers into subscribing to their bundle of services."

The move by Shaw comes amidst hearings held by the Canadian Radio-televion Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on usage based billing (U.B.B.) by wholesale internet providers.

Under a U.B.B. model, communication companies charge users based on how much data they consume, rather than the speed at which they consume it. As reported in The Tyee, the CRTC decided last January to allow Canada's major telecom companies to charge customers based on a U.B.B. pricing scheme. Opponents of U.B.B. say that providers can exploit this pricing model to favor their own products and services. Services, for example, like online movie rental services.

Shaw could not be reached by telephone for comment on this piece. In the event that representatives from the company contact The Tyee before the end of this business day, this Hook item will be updated.

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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