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Is Rogers Slowly Crushing Indie ISP TekSavvy Through Inaction?
by Karl Bode 04:41PM Friday Sep 13 2013 Tipped by sbrook See Profile
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. As former TekSavvy CEO Rocky Gaudrault told me in 2007, while most indie ISPs have been elbowed out of the market, there's still a place for ISPs that place customer satisfaction higher on the telecom totem pole.

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TekSavvy has recently found this goal a little harder than they probably previously imagined, with a series of summer headaches that have resulted in several of the company's customers being offline for multiple weeks. If you venture into our TekSavvy forums, you'll find more than a few threads by disgruntled users screaming about prolonged outages.

So what caused the darling ISP of the Canadian broadband industry, a family-run company that had fought tooth and nail against incumbents for years on consumer rights issues, to have their fortunes fall so precipitously?

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To hear TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault tell it, customers can thank Canadian incumbent Rogers for what has been become a connectivity nightmare for the ISP and its customers. Gaudrault is careful not to mention Rogers by name in posts to our forums, but he's made it clear that the problems customers are experiencing aren't due to anything on TekSavvy's end.

"As everything is functioning properly at our end, we believe the extended service outages are due to changes that have been made by the incumbent," says Gaudrault. "Our challenge is that they are not giving us proper explanations or expected timeframes," he adds. Company employees say that install and repair tickets placed with Rogers have suddenly started going unanswered for weeks.

"Our challenge is that they are not giving us proper explanations or expected timeframes..."
-TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault
Despite recently adding 250 new support staff, the company says the backlog of unanswered Rogers tickets has simply overwhelmed their systems and support staff, given there's absolutely nothing they can do to resolve issues outside of their own network.

Gaudrault hasn't gotten specific with the precise nature of Rogers' technical changes, he says, "in order for the various processes to be pursued in the most effective manner." Gaudrault may be prohibited contractually by mentioning Rogers by name, or may simply not have evidence to illustrate whether what Rogers is doing is due to malice, incompetence, or honest error. TekSavvy has hinted that other un-named indie ISPs have also been impacted by Rogers' changes.

According to TekSavvy, the issues are impacting around 2,000 of the company's 235,000 customers, but the annoyance level of those customers in places like our forums has amplified the issue, resulting in national Canadian media coverage. Conflation of this issue with other, unrelated issues (garden variety DNS, routing hiccups) appears to have created a PR superstorm of bad press for the small ISP.

TekSavvy is currently pursuing their options with Canada's regulatory agency the CRTC, an organization with a long history of pro-incumbent policies and actions courtesy of the often large number of former incumbent executives that frequently make up the regulatory body. Over the last decade the CRTC has often seemed disinterested as incumbent providers have worked tirelessly to eliminate wholesale competitors from the market.

"We are convinced that the wholesale model used by TekSavvy and the large incumbents whose networks we have to use is flawed," Gaudrault says. "This model is overseen by the government through the CRTC. And, we believe it needs to be re-visited and modified. We are working with other ISPs who have experienced similar service issues and plan to address the matter more formally with the CRTC in the weeks ahead."

Meanwhile, users tell us that when they call Rogers directly to complain, they're being pitched promotional offers with promises of being up and running within 24 hours. I've asked for additional detail from Rogers on what precisely is occurring, and will update this post with any additional information I receive.

Update: Rogers has shared their side of the story here, and denies that any changes to their systems are responsible for the problems TekSavvy customers are experiencing.

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4 recommendations

reply to Teddy Boom

Re: Tecksavvy

said by Teddy Boom:

It is also why the UK has Functional Separation. A considerably less costly alternative, which also provides competitive services to a much larger footprint of customers.

I am British and I can confirm that it works reasonably well - there's no real belief that BT is treating itself better than the third parties. Indeed, signing up to a third party can often fix problems that BT wouldn't fix, just because their consumer customer service is pretty bad, whereas a top quality third party knows exactly how to get BT's wholesale arm to get stuff done.

I'm in a falrly rural area and I can get ADSL2+ or VDSL from something like 50 ISPs. So that is good too.


Victoria, BC

3 recommendations

What do you they expect?

When push comes to shove Teksavvy relies on Rogers infrastructure. Rogers/Bell/Telus/Shaw don't want to share their infrastructure. The only reason they do is because the CRTC mandated it. You can't blame Roger's at all for dragging their heals. They're only letting Teksavvy use the last mile because they are legally obligated to do so. Not exactly the best motivation to do so.

The only way you'd get real competition is to lay down your own cable or fibre. That's way too expensive for a newcomber to do. The piece of the pie they would get would be too small to make it worthwhile (with the exception of the odd high density population area of course.).



3 recommendations

Dont Like this blame game By TSI Marc

"aren't due to anything on TekSavvy's end. "
Marc is playing politics and word games and not taking Rogers head on. May be legal issue.
He want to compete with Rogers but building business on Rogers network.
Thats is hard to digest eve for Rogers.

Just imagine the problems TS faces when they steal Rogers 250K plus customers.

London, ON
·WIND Mobile
·Rogers Hi-Speed

7 recommendations

To put it bluntly...

The incumbents shouldn't be allowed to cause delays or interfere with the service provided regardless if it's their customer or a wholesaler's customer. There should be VERY strict regulations along with steep penalties for this type of behaviour.