Put your Money where your Mouth Is

You’ve signed the petitions. You’ve called your MP. You’ve filed a complaint with the Canadian Competition Bureau. You’ve voiced your displeasure to the CRTC itself. Good job. Your efforts have made a difference, but we’re not done yet.

The CRTC has gone back to the drawing board (and so has big telecom, we can assume) to find a new deal that will likely be leaving us a little better off than the last one. Until the CRTC is an organization that actually stands up for our rights, and until Bell and Co understand that we will not tolerate this gouging of the populace it’s important that we demonstrate where the market power lies.

1. Dump the Big Guys.
These big telecom companies are trying to force legislation that will irreparably damage the freedom of the internet, innovation and fair market competition. If you’re sending them money every month, you’re telling them: “That’s cool. I don’t mind. Go ahead.” Is that really what you feel?

There are other options out there, and even if they are forced to use Bell’s infrastructure, a new customer for them is a clear message that the service they are offering is valuable and needed. Even more fun is to explain in excruciating detail to the Bell customer Service Rep why you’re canceling. (But be nice! They’re just doing their job.) Here are some of the options we’ve got in Montreal:

Teksavvy
Teksavvy gives me all around warm fuzzy feelings based on their support of OpenMedia.ca. The prices for high speed internet (unlimited, to date) are also good. You have to buy a modem, but they have a rent-to-own option. I got on the phone with Mr. George Burger, who provided me with this analogy: If two gas stations were across the street from one another and wanted to engage in price fixing they’d meet up and agree on a price through which they would each make a healthy margin. In this case of Bell etc. vs. The Internet, the first gas station attendant is setting the price, and the second is setting the same price, but handing the difference over to the first!

Virtually nowhere else in the industrialized world does this happen. Mr. Burger emphasized that if Bell was allowed to demand that difference in price from wholesalers like themselves, they would be unable to provide the type of service that is standard elsewhere in the world, and that Teksavvy prides itself on.

Colba
Colba is the local company that actually owns its own infrastructure and doesn’t have to buy from bell. They have a pretty wide range, and I’m impressed with the price. I had a chance to speak with company president Joseph Basili, and you couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic representative. When asked about the whole UBB debacle he told me it had been great for his business. Mercenary but I can’t blame him for that. There are some pretty nasty reviews concerning customer service on the internet, so ask how they’re working to fix the problem when you call. I imagine that improvements will be made quickly. Speed and service depend, as usual, on where you live.

Acanac
Several of my friends have had fantastic experiences with Acanac for internet and VOIP services. You pay for your year upfront and it’s reputed to be a great deal with good, fast service. They also have a referral program where each person you send to them gets you a month of free internet, and sending in ten new clients gets you free internet for as long as you’re an Acanac customer. This is perfect for all you social net-workers out there. As of this writing, they haven’t had a chance to get back to me with a personal comment, but when they do, I’ll update you all.

2. Use Services That Give a Hoot.
There are companies offering services that require you, the customer, to have affordable access to high levels of bandwidth. Since UBB will directly affect their ability to sell to Canadians, they will add their voices to ours in the fight to stop this legislation as always, accompany your purchase with a note or a phone call explaining your choice, and how you hope they will be encouraged by your support to throw their weight into the ring.

Netflix
I’m a big Netflix fan. For about $8/month they have about 90% of the movies and television I care to watch. You get to try it free for a month, so it’s a no-lose. They’re aware of the UBB issue in Canada and are keeping a close eye on the situation. We may be a small market, but not one they would choose to ignore or miss out on.

Apple TV
Along the same lines as Netflix, in fact, they work with Netflix. Apple provides television and movies at a price that approaches reasonable, after the one off price for the gadget. It’s not as inexpensive as I think it could be, but they have great usability and genuinely want you to be able to purchase and use their service. If you encourage Apple, they will make noise to the Canadian Government.

3. Take On-Line Classes (and make a fuss if you already do).
This one is particularly important to me. I currently attend school on-line, in a multi-media program. My classes are streamed, and take up several GB’s a week. If this legislation goes through students will be paying a premium to attend the classes they have already paid tuition for! School’s aren’t always quick to respond to (or acknowledge) student concerns, but when enrollment starts dropping they’ll prick up their ears.. If several hundred online students were to make a similar comment, however, they might begin to realize that their ever growing and super lucrative
pool of e-students is at risk. You don’t have to be a post-secondary student to do this – any online lecture or seminar delivered by video is going to be affected. Students are famous for mobilizing on
issues that concern us, and this should be no different.

Not every suggestion listed here is going to be appropriate for every internet user. My goal was to get you to think outside the box a little bit. Consider who stands to lose business from this UBB mess. Then contact them to find out how your support helps them fight it, and explain how your business is dependent on the outcome of this legislation. If none of the above is possible, or feasible for your lifestyle, see if you can’t throw a few dollars over to OpenMedia.ca; they’ll take your money and use it to make the system better.

Any great ideas I missed? Who else stands to lose with unfair metered internet? Let me know in the comments.
Recently quit Bell? Who did you go to and why? Any great providers who also deserve a shout out? You know what to do.

Images courtesy of: www.photoxpress.com

15 comments

  • With Teksavvy now and lovin’ it.

    Was with Acanac and while their deal was sweet, it took two months to get installed (problems due in large part to Bell who had to do the installation) and then the service was intermittent. It was probably our router (we found out later) but their customer service was poor and very frustrating (they could have just said “maybe its your router”).

    In know some people had very good experiences with them but I can’t recommend them.

    So I recommend Teksavvy if you want to bust the big guys.

  • it’s time to put the nail in the coffin to this quassi-governmental organization.What happen to looking out for the publics interest? Great blog post Megan!

  • @Jason: Thanks for the tip! I’m in the process of choosing one myself.

    @hating cherry: Thanks! As Mr. Burger from Teksavvy mentioned: we get to vote with our feet!

  • The online classes would get more supporters. I didnt hear about that perspective until now. Universities all over the world might potentially chime in on this.

  • Big thumbs up for Teksavvy they have the best customer service I have ever had and the internet service is MILES better then bell’s, no more DNS problems, no more droppped packets and all my pings for online games are halved. I don’t know how they do this, considering they use Bell’s “network” but it just shows you how EPICLY BAD bell is.

  • This is all well and good, but I’ve tried to switch from Rogers to three different companies, and nothing else is available in my area. When the day comes, and the other companies finally expand further, then I’ll switch.

  • @CF: The more you think about it, the more potentially damaging the whole thing seems. I certainly hope that school and universities start making more noise about the issue!

    @Stefan Nothing you could tell me about Bell’s service would shock me – but they’re so big – why should they care that their service is sub-par? Especially if they can eliminate the competition. I’m glad Teksavvy is working so much better for you!

    @Dave: That is a pain in the ass! I’d be frustrated too. Where are you located that there isn’t another service available?

  • I’m with Colba, and I’m pretty happy with their service. I had to buy a modem for 50$ but whatev’s. I used to be with Acanac, and I can say they were pretty good too. I just refuse to pay any of the big companies (ie bell videotron) my money. They all offer similar services, except the little guys are cheaper and usually offer you more services…
    pretty much a no brainer!

  • my friends and i have switched to Eastlink (used to be Persona).. we have no limit packages and they are NOT interested in implimenting UBB..have my phone/tv/internet package for reasonable rates and good service..have 15mb speed.recommend it if u can get it from your area..Bell STILL hounds me with phone calls soemtimes 4 times a week and i switched at least a year ago..sigh..

  • We dumped Rogers last year when we found out that they had started charging us for things that had NOTHING to do with using the Internet – namely uploading photos from my digital camera to the computer even though I had no intention of putting them online. Basically they started charging us for using our computer – it didn’t matter if it was Internet related or not.

    We’ve been with Talk Canada since last August – $39.99 UNLIMITED – compared with Rogers $46.99 for 60G +$2.00 for each additional Gb that we were paying before we dumped the greedy bums. Considering I watch television online – since we can’t afford Rogers cable AND the Internet – 60G doesn’t take very long to use up.

    The bottom line is that this has NOTHING to do with “charging people for how much Internet they use” and everything to do with the fact that they are LOSING Cable customers. If they can’t rip us off via Cable then they will rip us off via the Internet.

  • Hi all.(rather who ever is reading this)

    first..@Chris Zacchia
    you do pay a bit to bell even with colba. what do you thing the “dry-loop 9.95” is for? if im wrong please prove it, i would like to know for my self.

    but in regards to this post. I have been saying this since 2003. I used to be with BiG ReD(rogers) but then found a cheaper isp (Prims) loved them since. then BiG ReD in 2006 went UBB(in a since) and people still stayed or signed up. when I got a notice from primus in Dec about UBB I canceled and went to Teksavvy’s cable option. (Cables UBB is starting on July 1st but I am hoping that it will get canceled). Teksavvy is in one word “Awesome” even though I DO NOT agree with there 300 gig cap plans. ALL plans should be unlimited. Speed should cost. All big companies (Bell, Rogers, Show, Cogeco and Quebecor(Videotron)) have been planing this since the Gov(CRTC) made them all whole sell there network(last mile). I can not believe how many people are still with those companies and I just want to say to all of them, “Thank you all for killing Canada’s internet”.

    if you want to help go to http://www.dslreports.com(do not worry its not only dsl they talk about cable also) and http://www.canadianisp.ca/ to find another ISP(internet service provider).

  • @ChrisZ: You’re bang on!

    @ChrisM: Are they trying to get you back?

    @Elizabeth: I know – it’s such a blatant cash-grab it’s deplorable.

    @Bob: I spoke with Mr. Basili, President of Colba, who said that they owned their own infrastructure, and were not reliant on Bell’s. They co-locate in some offices – but that was as far as the connection went to the best of my understanding. If anyone has a really good technical understanding of the situation, I’d love to hear it too! Also – thanks for the extra links!

  • Dumping Rogers for TekSavvy starting April 5th. Did not hesitate when Teksavvy opened up their service in the east end of Ottawa. Soon All Ottawa will be Teksavvied and I know I’ll be pushing their services to everyone I know. Brother in law also switching to their DSL …

    Teksavvy Cable –> 10 MBPS/300Gb for 35$+tax

    VS

    Rogers Cable–> 50$ 10MBPS/60GB

    Once they lose more and more customers, they may offer something better.

  • @Megan Dougherty
    no problem. Interesting then what is the 9.95 dry-loop(price may vary). does it really cost $10 because of no phone line? so they installed there own last mile. ya more technical information would be great, anyone? LOL.

    @Matthieu
    ya I wish everyone was like you and drop the “Big Companies”.

    im staying with teksavvy until I move because where I’m moving too they do not offer cable there. 🙁
    (I just wish ALL plans where unlimited, its almost like the big teleco’s. $12.00 more for unlimited grrr. I do not like limits.)

  • @Dave:
    Teksavvy is in the process of offering cable internet across Canada. If it isn’t in your community, give it some time…it’s coming! Call them to see when it’s going to be in your area, it might already be there.

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