My Shaw Digital Phone Two Year Review - Updated: January 2008
I have now had Shaw Digital Phone for two years now, and further to a post of mine in February 2006, I have since taken the original post and added to it to provide a more complete review (original post found HERE
). This following document is what has been created and is a complete review of all the services and features of Shaw Digital Phone and my experiences, opinions and reviews of each. I thought I would like to share with all of you, so here it goes:
How did you obtain phone service from Shaw?
I simply called in to my local Shaw office. When I called in they asked me several questions, such as did I want to keep my number, How would I like my phone number listed in the phone book, or would I wish to be not listed in the phone book? The Cable bill was in my name, and the phone was not, so I was able to keep my phone number listed the same way it always has been, but I got the address portion removed from the phone book. Shaw was very helpful to make sure that everything was the way I wanted it and always confirmed before proceeding to make any changes.
You have the option of having your phone number listed in the phone book and 411, not in the phone book and on 411 only, or not in the phone book and not on 411. There is no charge to change the way you want it listed unlike MTS (local phone company) who charges even if you would like your address removed from the listings. Shaw went over all the calling features, benefits and prices while on the phone, and asked if I had any questions.
I would say from when I started talking to them to when I hung up was a good 20-25 minutes. Reminder: if you are calling to get phone service and want to keep your number, have a current phone bill in front of you as they will need some of the information from your current bill with your old provider. If you want to keep your current number, the porting process takes a minimum of 7 days, but if you want a new number, you could have phone service next day (depending on availability of service techs to be able to make an appointment)
NOTE: Something to watch out for if you are taking your existing phone number with you. Shaw Port Facilitation Department in Calgary calls me 6 days before my install date and tells me that they are having trouble getting MTS to accept Shaw's application to take my phone number as my information I gave Shaw does not match what MTS has on their records, and Shaw is telling me I will have to re-book my appointment due to they need at least 7 business days to be able to successfully transfer a number in the porting process. I tell Shaw that if they have to re-schedule my appointment I will not be getting their phone service for another month and a half, and they agree that if I call MTS and get the information to them ASAP they will rush my request and keep my same service call date. I call MTS.....the reason the rejected Shaw's application.......I gave Shaw Last Name - First Initial and MTS had it on system as First Initial - Last Name.....therefore the lesson to be learned is make sure your information you provide Shaw with matches exactly as your current telephone bill
The Installation Process
The installation time can vary from anywhere from ten minutes to two hours depending on your setup. They unhooked all my lines from where they came into the house with MTS, extended the lines about two feet where they put a new wire housing, and then mounted the modem to my basement roof, they kept all the wires nice and neatly and they are securely attached to the wall. As you all know the modem has battery back-up and requires an electrical outlet, so Shaw has these 6-outlet electrical wall taps which they use. Shaw used to take off your electrical outlet face plate, and screw their new 6 outlet wall tap right into the wall, so it could not be removed by simply pulling on it, but they have since changed their policy and simply just plug it into your wall socket, and you can remove it at any time. The phone modem is the property of Shaw, you do not own it, and Shaw will install a new phone modem at your new residence, as they cannot re-use the old one….until they reformat it back at their warehouse, as I was told that, the Shaw Digital phone modem, once installed is fixated to that residence, and if you move that Shaw Digital phone modem to a new house and happened to call 911, it will show your old address still. If you move and do not return the Shaw Phone modem, you could be charged a fee I was also informed. If you are unable to access your phone modem, Shaw will come and remove it for free, but you must inform them in advance.
During the installation, they will check the signal strength, at my old house it was determined that the signal to my house was too strong coming from outside, so he had to install a resistor between the modem and the cable. Usually it’s the opposite, poor signal, but apparently I had excellent signal strength at my last residence – Good to know.
After they were done installing the phone, he did a test call to show me that my phone still worked, he checked all the phone jacks in the house to make sure they were still working, and he gave me my Shaw Digital Phone user guide. Just after he walked out my door, I was trying out the phone, and I was hearing a clicking just after I picked up and my phone was saying “extension in use” like someone else was on the line, so ran outside and he was just taking off and I flagged him down, and he came back into the house. He tried my phone and it was doing the same thing, and he had no clue why it was doing that – and he was playing around with it, and was getting ready to start to diagnose it, when just as quickly as it started, it stopped. He said at the time he had never heard or experienced anything like it – and it hasn’t happened since which was odd.
When I signed up in 2006, your first month’s service payment was due when the installer was there and was payable by cash or cheque, which was no big deal, and this is just because Shaw bills one month in advance, so you didn’t have a double bill the following month. As of currently, Shaw seems to have promotions where the first month is free, so this probably is not an issue anymore and eliminates the need to have the payment due when the installer arrives.
What type of Digital Phone Modems does Shaw use?
When I first got the service in Feb 2006, I was given the SBV5120 Motorola Modem. This modem I had no complaints about overall. I had some problems at the start with not being able to use *69 at first, but this was resolved, and I will explain more in features section. The SBV5120 had a backup battery PB1000 which would give eight hours of stand-by and six hours of talk time. Note: the battery was an external unit that plugged in between the Shaw Phone Modem and the power outlet. Also something to note, it appears this version of modem is no longer listed on the Motorola website, meaning they no longer supply this product, but I know Shaw has a bunch and they still use them in certain areas.
When I moved from my old house to my new house in the summer of 2006, I called Shaw and was advised that I should remove the modem (if possible) from my old house and bring it to my new house, only the modem and power cord. So I did and the installer at my new house took the old one away and gave me a new modem which this time turned out to be a SBV5220 Motorola Modem. Well let me just say that out of all the modems I have used, this one was the worst. Let me just say though I did have this modem in summer 2006 till almost spring 2007 and this was before apparently they did a firmware update. But the problem I had was when I was trying to dial out; it would tell me the phone number I was calling was not in service. Then I would dial the number by dialing 1-204 in front of it and it would work fine. When this didn’t work, I also could not dial 611 for repair, so I had to use my cell phone. The SBV5220 has an internal battery and has a second battery compartment for the use of a second battery but to my knowledge Shaw only supplies one battery. The one battery can supply six hours of stand by and four hours of talk time, and in theory if you add a second battery you can double those numbers.
Long story short, after three service calls, Shaw eventually brought a refurbished SBV5120 back to my house and set it up. After a while I also had a small issue with this modem where someone would call my house, and my phone would not ring, and the person who called me would get what sounded like a fax machine answering, so that person would hang up call again, and it would do it again, and then the third time they called it would connect to me and my phones would ring. Because I was having issues now with the SBV5120 which worked fine and better than a SBV5220, they asked me to hold out and wait for the new Arris modem to come out. The first or second day that they were done their testing in Winnipeg and launched the modem in the field to be used for new installs, I received a phone call and they set a service call for four days later on the weekend and I received the Arris Touchstone TM502G/H Telephony modem.
Since February 2007, I have had the Arris Touchstone TM502G/H Telephony modem and this is the one I still have to this date. I have had no problems with this modem, and I noticed that this modem also works with pulse dialing, something I know at least the SBV5120 did not allow for when I had it (who knows it may now…wouldn’t be able to tell you). In May I had to have Shaw come out for a quick service call because I had a power outage and soon learned that the battery in my modem was a dud, and they came out a couple of days later and swapped the battery for a new one, and I have since tested it by unplugging my modem from power and seeing if it still works. I recommended to everyone I know to do this at least once, just to make sure, as you hate to find out when the power really does go out.
Out of the three modems that I have had experience with, I would rate the Arris as the best modem of the three, followed by the SBV5120 with the separate battery pack, and lastly the SBV5220, but note that those are just my preferences based on my experiences. I was told by technical support that the Arris modem is almost always used now when alarm systems are present, as it seems to work best with alarm systems out of the three. This could be hear say, but I thought I would include that info for everyone.
According the Arris website, the Touchstone Telephone Modems have two battery back up options. It appears Shaw is providing customers with the five hour battery back option (or three hours of talk time), but there is also a larger battery that will fit into the same compartment that allows for ten hour back up (or six hours of talk time).
In this section I will talk about my experiences with all the calling features that Shaw currently offers and my opinion on each one (if applicable). For detailed instructions on how to use any of these services, call Shaw for more info, or see the links part at the end of this review for links to the user guides and the Shaw website.
Definition from the Shaw website: “Voicemail answers your calls when you are away from home or talking on the phone. Your personalized greeting is played and the caller’s message recorded for you to listen to later.”
When I first got phone service in Feb 2006, I kept this service for a whole two days after I got the phone service. It wasn’t bad, but was finding that the Shaw voicemail was not notifying me of new messages like it should have been, Shaw states on their website that;
“When you have a new message waiting, you will hear an interrupted dial tone when you pick up the receiver, or your phone’s message-waiting light will be flashing (on phones with a message-waiting light feature). You can still make and receive calls when you hear the interrupted dial tone.”
I was not getting an interrupted dial tone nor where any of my 4 phones that have the message waiting light feature, they were not lighting up. I called 611 and they asked me what type of phone I had and I gave him 1 of my phone brands – and of course his response at the time was “oh we are having trouble with that brand of phone at the moment with the message waiting light” and then I stated…well why would that affect my not getting an interrupted dial tone, and he stated, oh it does…and then I said…ok you can cancel my voicemail service!
I re-added the voicemail service to my account in spring 2007, thought I would give it another try, and it was still doing the same thing it was doing before (as stated above), it was not lighting up when I had new messages, or not giving me the interrupted dial tone, so I called technical support in Winnipeg who again stated it must be a problem with my phone, so I called BC tech support (as I have had better experiences with them before for internet problems…but that is another story) and they opened a ticket number and sent my problem to a level two tech in Calgary who called me back, and I have no idea what he did, but after a couple of weeks with trial and error, he called me and asked me to try it again, and success it worked! I was very happy that my service was now working as it was promised.
Note: Shaw Voicemail can store up to 20 messages at up to 5 minutes each and can be stored for up to 7 days. Also should you wish to shut off voicemail temporarily you can now do so using the online portal on secure.shaw.ca under manage digital phone features, or if you wish to shut off this service permanently you can call Shaw and it will be removed in twenty four to ninety six hours depending on how many requests they have. It could then be re added at any time in the future, but the same time frames would apply.
One thing I am glad Shaw added about a year ago, is the ability to bypass your password which you can do by going into your personal options by pushing four, then two to manage your password, and then two for password prompt options and then press one to skip the password prompt. This will only skip your password if you are accessing your voicemail from your home phone line. I turned that on, so other family members could access the voicemail without having to enter the password every time. Of course if you wanted to turn the password prompt back on you would do the same, except at the last part instead of pushing one you would push two to turn it back on.
Did you all know but in addition to your local access number for voicemail (282-1099 in Winnipeg), Shaw now has a toll free number that will work anywhere in Canada or the US, and this was very helpful when I went to BC this past summer for two weeks to be able to check my messages while I was on the go and not have to dial long distance, the number is 1-866-656-7429 and just type in your ten digit phone number followed by the # key and then it will ask you for your password.
For anyone wondering, Shaw tells you that in order to access your voicemail externally (not on your phone line) to call the local access number, but if you simply call your own number and when the voicemail kicks in hit the * key once…you can access your voicemail. If you make a mistake on your password or accidentally hit the * key twice it will ask you for your voicemail number. Make sure you enter your 10 digit number, as I found that when I just entered the 7 digit number, it would never recognize my password….which I found odd, but when I did the 10 digit number, first try I was in.
Overall since I got the message waiting light to work on my phone line, I am very happy with Shaw voicemail, and now with Voicemail to E-mail where it allows you to receive a copy of your voicemail to your e-mail inbox, I think it’s a great service. For more info on Voicemail to E-mail, see the online customer care part of this review at the end of the calling features.
For the second part see HERE
For the third part see HERE
For the fourth part see HERE