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.
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?
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.