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For most of the last decade nobody has exemplified the clumsy, ham-fisted approach to network management better than Canadian cable company Rogers. From crippling encryption and VPNs to throttling legitimate apps and games like World of Warcraft
, Rogers has accounted for nearly half of all network neutrality infractions in Canada
. Recent MLabs data highlighted that Rogers was among the worst ISPs in the world
when it comes to aggressively slowing user traffic.
Those of you who've watched Rogers over the years likely won't be surprised to learn that they've come in dead last in Netflix's new rankings of streaming performance among Canadian ISPs. Netflix's new Canadian rankings
, like the U.S. counterpart, is designed to name and shame ISPs with particularly dismal network performance, while nudging them to sign up for Netflix's free Open Connect content delivery network.
Rogers clocks in at 1.67 Mbps in average streaming delivery, putting them well behind every other Canadian ISP. Bell's fiber-based services rank first place at 3.19 Mbps.
Documents provided by Edward Snowden last week revealed that the Canadian government (CSEC, their NSA equivalent) has been quite illegally spying on and tracking Canadian citizens
using public Wi-Fi available at Canadian airports to track movement both before and after citizens visited the airport. The specifics of how the government obtained the location data isn't made clear, but Canada's two largest airports, Toronto and Vancouver, deny providing CSEC with the data.
The Globe and Mail
highlights how the next generation of downloadable games from Sony (at 30 to 80GB) are going to really start pushing Canadian bandwidth caps, which are considerably more restrictive than those here in the States. That's before Sony even launches Playstation Now
, a gaming streaming service not unlike OnLive, or Sony's 4K video streams and downloads
-- both of which may very well start eating Canadian bandwidth caps like popcorn shrimp. "The debate over Canada’s usage caps will either spark up again or the company will have to purposely degrade PlayStation Now in Canada, the same way Netflix did to its service, or both," notes the paper.
Canadian lawmakers say they're working on new rules
that would require Canadian cable operators to offer a la carte content to consumers. "We don't think it's right for Canadians to have to pay for bundled television channels that they don't watch," said Canadian Industry Minister James Moore. "We want to unbundle television channels and allow Canadians to pick and pay the specific television channels that they want." There's a majority interest in more flexible channel options
here in the States, but usually only fleeting lip service by cable operators when it comes to providing them -- a la carte or otherwise.
Last month independent Canadian ISP TekSavvy all-but accused Rogers Communications of intentionally bumbling customer install and repair orders
, creating a massive backlog of issues in order to help drive their competitors out of business. When I spoke to Rogers the company denied blame
, instead blaming TekSavvy for missing necessary support forecasts and somehow "overwhelming" Rogers third party support resources.
Indie Canadian ISP TekSavvy
isn't having a very good summer, and it appears Canadian incumbent Rogers is to thank for much of it. You'll probably recall that over the last few years independent Canadian ISP has built quite a name for itself for being a more consumer-friendly sort of ISP.
If you've watched any of them do business for more than a few minutes, it has been amusing to watch Canadian incumbents Bell, Telus and Rogers kick, scream and cry about Verizon's possible entry into the Canadian market
. Their Fair for Canada
TV and radio campaign has employees reading scripted statements proclaiming that Verizon will steal Canadian jobs and generally make Canadian wireless service (already some of the most expensive anywhere) worse.
Canadian incumbents Telus, Bell and Rogers have recently fired up attack campaigns
attempting to keep Verizon Wireless from entering their market. The campaign
uses incumbent employees reading from scripts to insist that Canadian telcos simply want a "level playing field" and that Verizon will kill jobs.
Back in May our users uncovered a Canadian scam being run by several individuals who were pretending to be entirely fake ISPs
in order to collect customer cash and private user information. Using ISP names like "Cable Gator" and "Go Cable Solutions," the scammers promise users broadband service they can't get, demand $100 down payments and personal data including SIN and driver's license numbers, then skirt off with the cash.
It has been incredibly amusing to watch Canadian incumbents Bell, Telus and Rogers, no strangers to abusive and predatory anti-competitive behavior at every opportunity, kick, scream and cry about Verizon's possible entry into the Canadian market
. Now that the predators are having to fight a real predator and the possibility of real competition, they're doing what any good, anti-competitive incumbent would do: engage in propaganda, disinformation and astroturfing to confuse the public.
As we noted yesterday
, Verizon Wireless is putting out feelers and exploring the option of an expansion into Canada, specifically in the form of buying up one of the nation's struggling smaller carriers. Not too surprisingly, incumbent operators there don't want this to happen.
Customers of Canadian cable operator Shaw are fuming over an e-mail outage late last week that resulted in millions of user e-mails getting deleted. According to an article in The Province
), e-mail system troubleshooting efforts resulted in an e-mail outage for around 70% of Shaw's customers. Shaw promised to email impacted customers with a list of message headers and time stamps, but says actual message content from a ten-hour span is unrecoverable. Cue those in our comments who will ask "who still uses their ISP's e-mail services?"
Fear that Canadian regulators were going to do their job has resulted in a welcome -- though likely brief -- return to unlimited broadband in Canada. Our friends to the north are well-known for some of the most predatory and punitive broadband caps and overages anywhere, courtesy of uncompetitive broadband markets and regulatory capture. story continues..
writes in to note that Rogers has not only acquired one of Shaw's cable subsidiaries, but will also be acquiring Shaw's Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses as part of a massive, $700 million deal
. "It should be noted that Rogers was barred from participating in the auction for that wireless band because Industry Canada felt they already had too much of an advantage in the market," says the user. Shaw had acquired the spectrum in Canada's 2008 AWS auction for $189.5-million before deciding to focus on Wi-Fi.
Last month we noted how French ISP Iliad was shaking up the French wireless market
with some creative pricing, which included an introductory basic free tier of service (an idea that's taking root in the States now
). With the offering clearly popular among users tired of paying an arm and a leg to France's uncompetitive incumbents, France Telecom is now claiming the new service is straining their network
, so they'll of course have to renegotiate the deal they made with Free (read: raise rates so Free's business model becomes untenable):
France Telecom said its network was being stressed by a rapid growth in traffic brought on by its hosting of new mobile entrant Iliad and vowed to protect its clients from service interruptions, its CEO told magazine Le Point...Iliad's Free Mobile service upended the French telecom market in January when it launched its main offer at 19.99 euros per month for unlimited calls to France and most of Europe and the United States, unlimited texts, and 3 gigabytes of mobile data.
This is the same France Telecom that absolutely refused to compete on price
when Free entered the market, claiming their competitive pricing would be "bad for network quality and innovation." According to the incumbent CEO, they didn't need to compete on price because "we offer security, reliability and innovation." Just not on pricing. France Telecom negotiated a contract and did their homework, but with Free succeeding more than they expected -- it's time to change the terms and raise rates.
Whether it's AT&T claiming congestion to justify DSL caps and $10 wireless overages
, or Canadian ISPs claiming congestion to justify predatory usage-based pricing
, you do start to notice a trend wherein congestion is used by incumbents as a bogeyman to justify everything from massive overages to anti-competitive behavior. The best part about the congestion bogeyman
is that telcos never have to provide actual data evidence of congestion -- and the press never bothers to ask for any.
In 2010 Comcast decided that a good way to take aim at services like AT&T's U-Verse and Verizon's FiOS would be to change the name of all of their
services to "Xfinity." Though the Xfinity rebranding did coincide with some substantive improvements to services
(including the expansion of a 100 Mbps tier), most people generally found the move a little silly, noting the name sounded like a new porn channel
. Following on the heels of Comcast in the States and Telus (their Optik brand which falsely suggests last mile fiber) in Canada, Shaw's launching new ads
for their "Exo" branding, which this video
attempts to explain. The idea of course is to sex up existing services with a brand refresh, but judging from the initial response in our Shaw forum
, users aren't all that impressed.
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..
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