News tagged: Bell Sympatico
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It has been about half a decade now that I've been pointing out that most of the meters used by ISPs to track and bill consumers for usage aren't accurate. Customers of Canadian cable operator Cogeco have long complained the company's meter is inaccurate when users can load it at all
, and every so often the meter simply goes mad -- like last Spring when the meter was horribly confused by leap year
For years our users have noted in great detail
how AT&T's DSL and U-Verse meters aren't accurate, and when pressed for details on how usage is tracked, AT&T has insisted their meter information is proprietary
. Similarly, we've pointed out how Suddenlink's usage meters were also inaccurate
, with users being billed even when they had no power
Only after our story did Suddenlink suspend their efforts to impose overage fees
until they could correct the problem (they haven't yet). This kind of stuff has been going on for half a decade, without a passing glance from either regulators or the tech press. Even consumer advocates, usually on the front lines of these fights, haven't really zeroed in on the problem of unreliable meters.
With that important background understood, Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOM
this morning has posted an interesting piece that talks to Peter Sevcik, president of NetForecast, a firm hired by ISPs to track their usage meter accuracy.
Bell Canada today announced that the company would give users of its fiber to the node (and in some instances FTTH) "Fibe" service an unlimited connection free of data caps -- if
users are willing to pay a price premium. According to the company's press release
, users tired of dealing with caps and overages can return to the joys of unlimited data for an additional $10 on top of existing triple play service, or $30 on top of existing double play or standalone Fibe service.
The law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver (aka the U.S. Copyright Group) has perfected the "copyright-o-matic
" approach to P2P lawsuits, sending out letters en masse to users they've identified as having traded copyrighted files, threatening to sue those users unless they settle for the rock-bottom initial price tag of $1,500.
Several users in our Canadian forums
have nudged us to note that Canadian regulators have stunned everyone by blocking Bell's attempted acquisition of Canadian media company Astral. According to the CRTC
, the $3 billion takeover of the company (think Comcast's acquisition of NBC as a much larger but similar venture), would have resulted in much higher prices for Canadian consumers.
FCC boss Julius Genachowski has been busy lately paying lip service to Silicon Valley, most recently telling a bunch of Silicon Valley conference attendees that caps were something we should be "concerned" about
, after telling cable companies just a few months earlier he thought caps and overages are nifty and innovative
. Speaking again to Silicon Valley folks yesterday at a speech
at Vox Media headquarters, Genachowski hashed out his muddy position a little further, again insisting he was "concerned" about caps -- sort of -- maybe:
(Growing usage) presents challenges for broadband providers in managing the growing loads on their networks while earning returns to drive capital investment in network upgrades and expansion.
Canadian regulators are suing Canadian wireless companies for misleading charges related to various text message, ringtone and other frequently-shady services that can carry hidden fees. According to a report in the Globe and Mail
, Canada's Competition Bureau is suing Telus, Rogers, BCE and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association for violating the misleading advertising portion of the Competition Act.
Just like telcos in the States, Canadian incumbents charge a universe of bogus fees
that simply act to jack up the advertised price post sale. It technically should be a considered false advertising and a crime, but it's something regulators generally couldn't care less about.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail
, Canadian providers Rogers and BCE will be among the first ISPs to partner with Apple on their upcoming television sets. Apple's new televisions have been rumored for some time
, and are expected to integrated the Siri voice command functionality found in the iPhone 4S. Like Microsoft's XBox Live video offerings, it sounds like Apple is signing on numerous partners for content. However as we've noted a lot lately
, Apple doesn't have a magical formula to bypass the entertainment industry's restrictive licensing, which has been responsible for keeping numerous companies (Google, Apple, Microsoft) from truly revolutionizing Internet video.
With ISPs so relentlessly eager to move from flat rate to usage-based billing, you would think that they would have made sure they had the technical skills to do so first. Again and again however we've noted how U.S. story continues..
Anybody who warns of an unavoidable capacity crisis on wireline or wireless networks is lying in order to sell you something. That may be a blunt assessment to some, but it's the only conclusion you can draw as we see time and time again that claims about a looming network apocalypse (remember the Exaflood
?) violently overestimate future traffic loads and underestimate the ingenuity of modern network engineers.
We've often talked about how Canada was actually seeing some significant growth in their broadband sector early on, with users seeing faster speeds at fairly reasonable prices. The country also consistently ranked very high in the global broadband penetration rankings -- despite the evil bogeyman known as "geography" -- which many here in the states use to justify the United States' broadband failings. story continues..
Recent data story continues..
shows that Canadian cable ISP Rogers is the worst ISP tracked by MLabs when it comes to meddling with, throttling, or otherwise restricting user traffic. As Canadian network neutrality complaints rise sharply
after the nation imposed new neutrality laws, Rogers is busily responsible for more than half of them -- as the company continues to use network management platforms that impact legitimate traffic, applications and games (just ask our users
Users in our Bell Canada forums
note that the Canadian incumbent telco has lowered the monthly rate of several of their tiers, but they've countered that by lowering customer usage caps as well. A look at the Bell website
reveals that the company lowered usage limits on all their tiers, in addition to raising the overage cap penalty limit (at $1 per gigabyte) an additional $20, to $80 per month in maxiumum usage penalties.
You'll recall that back in 2008 Bell started throttling the bandwidth delivered to wholesale customers without telling them about it. While Bell insisted the move was due to network congestion, they were never able to prove the congestion existed. story continues..
In 2009 a new Canadian wireless company named WIND Mobile had initial efforts to enter the Canadian market blocked by the CRTC -- who argued that the company technically wasn't Canadian enough
. Specifically, the CRTC argued that because WIND was 60% funded by 61% owned by Orascom, a telecom company that does ample business in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia -- they couldn't do business in Canada.
With a few days to digest the CRTC's ruling this week
, it's fairly clear that there's some good and bad news for Canadian broadband customers. The good news is that Bell's vision of imposing usage-based billing on wholesalers is dead, and it's largely thanks to consumer uprising -- an amazing show of authentic grass roots opposition.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , JKukiewicz , swintec