Western Canada’s biggest cable company is expanding its data centre capabilities, but not in Canada.

Shaw Communications said this morning it will spend US$1.2 billion to buy ViaWest Inc., one of the largest privately held providers of data centre infrastructure and managed IT services in the U.S., if approved by regulators

ViaWest, which focuses on co-location, owns 27 data centres in eight markets — Denver, Dallas, Austin, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Portland, Minneapolis and Phoenix.

A number of cable companies here have expanded their data centres in this country through acquisition — for example, Rogers Communications bought Primus Canada’s BlackIron division, Pivot Data Centres and Granite Networks, while Cogeco bought Peer 1 Networks (which had data centres largely in the U.S., but also in Canada and and Europe).

However, in a statement Shaw CEO Brad Shaw said the company wants “to leverage the ViaWest management team’s experience to accelerate the development of our Canadian data centre platform so that over time our Western Canadian customers will gain access to this industry-leading expertise for their own data management needs and scalable cloud solutions.”

It is in the middle of building its first business data centre in Calgary, which is scheduled to open next spring.

In a note to investors, Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity, said the deal puts to rest any thoughts that Shaw (TSX: SJR.B) will sell itself to Rogers.

Shaw had wanted to get into wireless, but turned its back on the cellular business after spending $189 million for spectrum covering Western Canada and Northern Ontario in the 2008 AWS spectrum auction. Instead it is focusing on municipal Wi-Fi

The cableco’s business services date back at least to 2000 when it built a fibre optic network for medium to large enterprises for Internet and voice services.  Shaw Business now offers hosted and managed voice and Ethernet services.

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