Shaw Communications hasn't wasted any time getting ready for the Wi-Fi network it intends to build in Western Canadian cities. The Calgary-based carrier said Monday it has selected Cisco Systems Inc. to be the equipment supplier for its “extensive” network.
 
In a news release Shaw said the network will be available to its cable and VoIP home phone subscribers in various markets, but it didn't name the cities. Nor did it detail how wide the network will be within each city, but it did say Wi-Fi would be in “thousands of locations.”
 
Shaw [TSX: SJR.B] will buy Cisco's [Nasdaq: CSCO] CRS-3 Carrier Routing System and use its ASR 5000 and 1000 series routers in the network. But apparently the way is open for other companies to supply the outdoor access points that will transmit signals to end users, for the release is silent on APs.
 
On Sept. 1 the carrier said it decided to build a series of municipal Wi-Fi mesh networks  using free spectrum rather than a cellular network using the $190 million worth of spectrum it bought in 2008 because competition is increasingly making cellular a tough business.
 
Unlike cellular networks, which cover entire provinces, cities and towns, it is expected that Shaw's Wi-Fi network will only cover downtowns and large public spaces like shopping malls and convention centres.
 
A Wi-Fi network won't appeal to people who want the mobility cellular offers, but it could be appreciated by the thousands of people in downtown Calgary, Edmonton and other cities in Shaw's orbit who carry Wi-Fi equipped tablets, laptops and cellphones. It won't let Shaw compete with BCE Inc.'s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, Telus Corp., Mobilicity or Wind Mobile in the cellular and high speed wireless business, but it will give the cableco a mobility platform.
 
Construction of Shaw Wi-Fi will start late this year, with commercial deployment promised in the spring of 2012.
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