Shaw Direct, the satellite TV division of triple-play cableco Shaw Communications, has agreed a tie-up with WiMAX and satellite broadband provider Xplornet to bundle satellite pay-TV with wireless internet access in a package specifically aimed at rural Canadians. The Globe & Mail reports that the pair’s discounted package combining Shaw Direct’s TV channels and Xplornet’s internet connections will initially target rural markets in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta in early May before being rolled out on a national basis to Canada’s roughly 2.4 million rural households by the end of the year. The bundle’s pricing is yet to be decided. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Xplornet is targeting broadband coverage of the entire country by end-2012, via a combination of 3.5GHz WiMAX radio base stations and two satellites, one of which is already operational and the other scheduled to enter service this year; having previously offered fixed-wireless internet over pre-WiMAX network technology, Xplornet launched its first commercial mobile-ready networks based on the 4G WiMAX 802.16e platform in Ontario in March 2011. Xplornet had around 150,000 internet subscribers across Canada at the end of 2011, with ambitions to quadruple the total in four years. Shaw Direct had over 900,000 satellite TV subscribers at the same date, mostly in areas outside of the Shaw cable network footprint.
In other news this week, Xplornet made further moves to increase its WiMAX service footprint and subscriber base when it closed the second phase of a deal to buy additional 3.5GHz band frequencies from YourLink, a unit of fellow fixed-wireless broadband operator Vecima Networks. The exchange of spectrum in the second component of the deal cost Xplornet CAD7.3 million (USD7.35 million).