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    Entries in Bell (3)


    Canada's Wireless Code of Conduct aka Protect the Sheep from Themselves

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission may be ringing in 2013 with one of the most ridiculous plans yet.

    The Wireless Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines for wireless carriers to adhere to in providing servics to consumers in Canada.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of the complaints and recommendations that make up this code were submitted by Canadian consumers who may not even have the intelligence to dial a cell phone, let alone understand the services that they are buying.

    Top of the list: Outlaw 3 Year Contracts

    The main reason for even having a 3 year contract is due to the fact that the average Canadian can’t afford to pay the full price for a cell phone. Having a 3 year contract allows for the carrier to subsidize the cost of the hardware and pass that subsidization onto the consumer. If the CRTC reall does force carriers to remove the 3 year contract option, consumers are now going to be on the hook for shelling out more dough up front for their phone. Likely to the tune of $200 or more, depending on the type of phone they want to get.

    What’s funny about the whole contract debacle is the fact that people don’t HAVE to get a 3 year contract right now. All carriers offer various contract lenghts, depending on how much you want to pay up front.

    Right now, you can get a Windows HTC phone with no contract for $599 from Bell Canada. You can get a Samsung Galaxy S III from TELUS for $650.

    A very smart tech chick (hat tip to @followsandi) suggested that if the consumer bought the hardware upfront, there should be a decrease on the monthly service fees, since you don’t need to subsidize the cost of the hardware. I’m all for that — and it makes good sense. The downside of that is that it REALLY exposes the carrier’s margin models, and unless one of the carriers sees this as a great way to improve transparency with its customers, it’s unlikely that this will happen. You never know.

    I’d like to see a few more options for pre-payment of hardware —— if I want to put down 50% of the cost of the phone, I’d like to have a different contract length. I expect that I could walk into any wireless store and make this sort of arrangement, and it changes the outstanding commitments I have with that carrier, since commitment is linked to revenue spend.  Maybe that’s the way to go —- have a minimum spend commitment with a carrier, and when you meet/exceed that commitment, your contract is over, and you’re free to change, upgrade or do the hokey-pokey.

    Some of the recommendations are reasonable: alerts when you get close to your data limits, or your voice minutes. EASY ways to upgrade or downgrade services on the fly. 

    But really, those recommendations have little to do with consumer safeguards and more to do with service development of the carriers. I expect that some of these recommendations have a pretty heavy service development cost associated with them. The big carriers may be able to shoulder the capital costs of the system upgrades, but the new entrants are going to be challenged with providing additional service features on products that they’re already struggling with.


    It’s not going to be pretty, and it’s not going to be the right thing, but silly consumers —- you’re going to get what you get.


    Usage Based Billing Complaints aka: "I want to have my cake and eat it too"

    It’s been two weeks of incessant blathering about “unlimited” broadband as a basic human right. Two weeks of grassroots attemps to scare the people, scare the governement and make the little baby Jesus cry.

    I don’t want unlimited broadband. I want Amazing Quality broadband. I want network innovation. I want Universal Broadband. Why aren’t people rallying around those concepts?

    Two weeks ago, the CRTC made a relatively reasonable decision as to what and how wholesale service providers sell internet service to their downstream customers. “The CRTC ruled in January that internet service providers such as Bell could charge wholesale customers based on the same usage-based caps that they charge retail customers. (Read more:

    The CRTC, despite its slow and deterministic processes, decided that what was good for the goose was good for the gander when it comes to internet usage. Blame the CRTC for doing the right thing. The right thing is not always the popular thing.

    Usage based billing means paying for what you use. Not a new concept, really. Water, heat, gas, groceries are all usage based services. Why should internet access be treated any differently? If my neighbour waters his lawn 7 days a week, and washes his car on Sunday, and I only water my lawn twice a week and forgo the weekend carwash, why should our bills be the same? The shouldn’t. Full stop. Provided that the pricing per Gb is fair and equitable (and transparent), this should be a no-brainer.


    “Consumer and internet advocates have been lobbying hard against the decision, which they said was leading to higher prices and snuffing out competition among ISPs. They also argued it would prevent consumers from taking advantage of new services such as Netflix, which allows users to stream high-definition movies and TV episodes over the internet to their television for a monthly flat rate.”



    Are monthly prices going to increase? Only if you’re a heavy user (+75GB/month of data transfer). According to the CRTC, your pricing still isn’t going to increase until every last grandfathered Bell residential customer who still has unlimited service is migrated off that plan and onto a usage based plan. Teksavvy (and other smaller ISPs) jumped the gun and increased their rates prematurely to further whip their customers into a UBB frenzy.

    I think that the biggest scare tactic is that the general population and Canadian Politicans have NO IDEA about how much bandwidth they use. That fact has allowed various grass roots movements to take advantage of *popular opinion* and scare the bejesus out of Canadians with phrases like “higher pricers”, “stifling innovation”, and “limiting usage”.

    How much can you do with 60 GB of monthly usage?

    • 400 hours of surfing
    • 4000 emails
    • 2000 pictures shared
    • 600 songs downloaded
    • 26 movies downloaded (standard definition)

    ALL of this activity will net you 60 GB of bandwidth usage. 60 GB is about $50/month, depending on your service provider. That $50 monthly charge is broken up into Customer Service, network infrastructure capital, carrier payouts and marketing and advertising….

    125 GB is going to cost you more ($70), but here’s what you can do:

    • download 40 HD movies
    • Watch over 300 hours of YouTube
    • download over 26000 songs.

     Supporters of *unlimited” or *flat rate* internet services are folks who have been using 150 GB of download capacity, and only getting charged $50/month for the pleasure of that. It looks like the free ride may soon be over. Even Mandarin has limits on their all-you-can-eat buffet :-D

    Open Media is the biggest driver of the fear, yet their website is simply rhetoric with NO meat. Not even a tool is provided to support their arguements, so that Canadians can actually gauge how much internet they use. I’ve found a very effective litle bandwidth calculator - and it’s independant of ANY Canadian providers. Go ahead and see what your bandwidth appetite is like. Over 200,000 Canadians have signed their petitiion, and I’l bet that only 20% of them know what their bandwidth usage is, and these are the folks who are 150 GB+ users. 

    Why do I want usage based billing? It’s simple, really…..

    1. I want there to be financial resources available for network technology improvements.
    2. I want to eventually get to a place where we can manage our own bandwidth on demand, and be able to control that via a dashboard. Those services can only be provided by service providers who have a network that allows for this kind of functionality.
    3. I want to have a fantastic internet experience that’s not impacted by Joe Schmoe downloading 500 Gigs of anime cartoons off of his torrent stream, (unless he’s paying for it).
    4. I want UNIVERSAL broadband, and no service provider is going to be able to do that effectively and successfully if they have to offer an unlimited service.

    Usage based billing doesn’t stifle creativity, it channels creativity into projects that are going to be productive and profitable.

    During a hearing with Commons industry committee of February 4th, Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), defended his agency’s new UBB rules.

    “I would like to reiterate the Commission’s view that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing Internet services,” he said. “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities, and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users,” he said. “For us, it is a question of fundamental fairness. Let me restate: ordinary users should not be forced to subsidize heavy users.”

    In times of CRTC confusion, the Voice of Reason, Mark Goldberg can always be counted on to add clarity to the situation….

     Tony Clement, in an effort to appear less-like-a-loser and more like a cool kid jumped into the UBB conversation via Twitter, simply to stir the pot and garner more public support for the next election. I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve got a feeling that good ole’ Tony wouldn’t know a tweet if it bit him in the toot! He’s got people for that.

    The next time you hear someone chirp about UBB, ask them how much internet capacity they use on a monthly basis…. and then ask them if they want to pay for my water usage next summer. I’m thinking of making a bigger garden ;-)





    Switching from Bell Expressvu to Rogers Cable: What you NEED to know

    A few weeks ago, The Wiz and I decided to finally break free from the chains of satellite TV and ordered cable TV.  Too many times had we been let down by fuzzy programming due to inclement weather. Too many times had the PVR pooched a recorded movie.

    Last week was the BIG CHANGE OVER. The snappy Rogers fellow came, he disconnected, he reconnected and voila. Cable TV in all its glory. Ahem….

    If you are a hard core Bell Expressvu user, you do NOT EVER want to switch over to Rogers Cable. Not yet, anyways. You don’t realize it, but you have become spoiled by the Bell Programming Guide. Trust me. It’s got a great HD resolution, it lets you see 3 hours of programming in the future on one screen, it lets you see 7 channels of shows at a glance. You don’t think these things are valuable, until they are gone……

    The Rogers Interactive Program Guide (IPG) is from 2004. It doesn’t display well on an HD tv, it doesn’t display well with any resolution better than 760. It doesn’t let you do any searching for programs, all you can do is browse by day. You don’t realize how sucky this us until you want to search for a program and have to browse through 30,000 shows that start with the same letter as the program in need….


    This isn’t a new problem. People have been complaining about this for years. Funny, in 2004, it wasn’t a show stopper. It’s amazing what 6 years of innovation (or lack thereof) can do. The IPG feels like it should be running on a 386 with Windows 3.1 in order to be viewed correctly. Funny, the image to the left sort of looks like this, if you have a standard definition TV that is smaller than 36 inches. If you have anything else, the fonts are completely distorted, the colours are off and the size is ridiculous.

    There are a few other VERY significant problems:

    1. There’s no skip ahead button on the Rogers Remote. You know the button, it’s yellow on the Bell remote, and it is your best friend. It gives you the power to skip ahead 30 seconds. It’s the commercial button :-) Rogers actually makes you view everything, albeit at 3times the speed.
    2. Rogers added a marketing screen to the IPG, so now you have to hit the guide button twice to get to the guide.
    3. There are some wickedly ridiculous buttons on the Rogers Remote, a button to take you to Rogers on Demand… duh.

    We lasted all of 45 minutes before we looked at each other and said at the same time “I can’t do this”.

    Twenty minutes later, the Rogers boxes were all packed up, and the calls were made to Rogers to cancel (you get a 30 day guarantee), and we were lucky enough that we tried this before our Bell cancellation had been activated, so we were safe on both sides.Turning on the TV and the Bell PVR, we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

    I’m sure that eventually Rogers will improve their IPG, (maybe), but right now, there are SO MANY benefits to the Bell Service, we simply couldn’t overlook them in favour of avoiding imclement weather problems……

    Caveat Emptor!