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Dumping DSL

Bell Canada logo used from 1902 to 1922. Note ...Image via Wikipedia

This morning, some time between 8 and 11 AM, a crew from Rogers will be here installing cable internet. After a decade with DSL — first as part of the initial North American trials in Seattle, and then in Ottawa — I finally ditched it.  The impetus?  This Globe and Mail piece on Bell’s new investment strategy for fiber.

The country’s largest communications carrier has chosen an investment plan for upgrading its residential broadband network.

Rather than a massive spending spree to roll out fibre optic cable to all its customers’ homes, Bell Canada has opted instead for a more moderate approach that it says is sufficient to compete with cable companies.

Bell announced that it will run fibre-optic cable to condominium and apartment buildings under construction between Quebec City and Windsor.

“If you polled the average guy on the street who knew anything about buyouts, they’d say, ‘Oh my gosh, Bell is going to stop investing.’ The neat thing about this announcement is that that’s absolutely not the case,” said Kevin Crull, president of Bell residential services. “We’re investing with discipline in growing markets and where we know we can win competitively.”

Mr. Crull said rivals cannot guarantee those high speeds and their service deteriorates depending on traffic volume. Furthermore, he said, the majority of customers have no use for speeds above 10 Mbps.

Well, Kevin, this “average guy on the street” doesn’t really care about your disciplined investment strategy.  All he cares about is that his DSL internet averages just over 3 Mb/s down, and 300 to 500k up.  Sorry, bud.  Your strategy is a loser so far as I’m concerned.

I can hardly wait to taste that “no guarantee” 18 Mb/s downlink from Rogers.

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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • b August 26, 2008, 6:13 am

    It's hard to know where to begin with Crull's statement….

    First, the decision to NOT expand the broadband build is a perfect example of the phenomenon he claims it contradicts — that a LBO discourages investment.

    The amazing thing about the decision to put fibre into new large condo and apartment buildings is that it implies Bell has been putting copper into these buildings until now. In other words, faced with the need to put in a wire of some kind, they chose 19th century technology over 21st century technology.

    Second, Bell's entire argument to the CRTC justifying its traffic shaping for wholesale ISPs is that it cannot guarantee the performance of its shared DSL service. (An argument that doesn't prevent Bell from stating, falsely, in marketing literature and on its website that Sympatico — sorry, Bell Internet — offers a dedicated connection to the Internet.)

    Third, unstated in the article but mentioned in the press release is that Bell is still putting fibre-to-the-node into new suburban housing developments. In other words, they run fibre to a local node and then put down copper wire from the node to the new homes… and have no plans to change this. Again, when the choice is between a future technology and a legacy technology — at essentially the same cost — Bell is choosing the past.

  • Francis Moran August 26, 2008, 6:51 am

    Hey, Alec. I was nearly tempted to go in the opposite direction with an offer from Bell this week that promised internet speeds as good as the competition for only $17.95 per month. That's less than half what I pay with Rogers.

    Then I put on my reading glasses and looked at the fine print. The $17.95 offer is good for 12 months. Not bad, but afterwards, I'll be paying $27.95. Oh, and there's a $20/month charge for the modem, meaning I'll really be paying $37.95 out of the gate and $47.95 after a year. That's more than I now pay with Rogers.

    But here's the kicker: The service comes with a 2Gbyte data-transfer limit, with unquantified "additional fees apply(ing)" for anything over that. Who in this day-and-BitTorrent-age lives within a 2 Gig data cap? Criminey, I pay only $30/month for 6Gbytes of data on my mobile device!

    Rogers has painful, painful customer service, Alec, but I think you'll like the experience.

  • Jean-Philippe Daigle August 26, 2008, 7:49 am

    Congrats. I switched from DSL (3rd-party reseller) to Cable (another 3rd-party reseller), but in each case they're still using the Bell or Rogers network. My impetus for the switch was reliability: DSL went down constantly; every week there would be a several-hour outage.

    Cable is much, much better. Going on two months now without a prolonged outage. As long as you don't start up a torrent, then all your traffic starts getting loss, including DNS queries, so that makes web browsing unusable. Setting up a caching DNS server on my LAN mitigates the impact of this somewhat, and scheduling torrents to run only at night works out pretty well. (If you'd told me 10 years ago customers would get denial-of-service'd by their service providers, I wouldn't have believed you, but times change…)

    Still, I'm much, much happier than I was with DSL. I have the 10mbit service; real-world download speeds over HTTP work out to around 5 mbit/s, which is at least 3-4 times faster than DSL ever was.

  • Mark Evans August 26, 2008, 10:09 am

    The best comment in the G&M story is in the last sentence when someone from DSLReports says they're surprised by Bell's decision. To me, that should have been one of the first paragraphs.

  • Mum August 27, 2008, 7:57 am

    What took you so long, Alec? We dumped Telus (Western Bell equivalent) years ago for Shaw. Telus kept promising high speed internet service and never came through with it until long after we dumped them. In addition, it took them a week to install our phone when we moved in here and if repairs were to be done, we just had to get in line. If we need Shaw they only ask us if we want them to come this morning or this afternoon and most of the time the problem can be corrected at the pole – no charge. We have all of our communication services with Shaw and we save a substantial amount of money. In fact, we never use up the 1000 minutes a month in free long distance phone calls all over the world. We now have Telus bothering us with very annoying aggressive sales pitches on a weekly basis. They must be getting desperate! MA

  • Alec August 27, 2008, 10:13 am

    Bad experiences with my last cable provider, Ma. AT&T on the Eastside of Lake Washington in the 1990's was not a very customer focused or friendly company.

  • Wilbur Tavny August 28, 2008, 5:03 am

    Before getting hooked up with Bell's IPTV service, I had their DSL. I was consistently getting about 12Mbps on the 16 Mbps service.

    Now that I have IPTV (www.bellenertainment.ca) I am getting over 20 Mbps service with a 50 gb per month max.

    Works great, never goes down. Customer service is way beyond anything I have seen before.

    The guys on the phone really understand both the TV and Internet. They even helped me with my AppleTV which officially they don't support.

  • Ann September 19, 2008, 9:40 am

    That Bell URL is wrong, btw. The correct one is: http://entertainment.bell.ca
    (I'm a current Bell DSL customer, more or less happy w/my service, but interested in the whole IPTV thing. Will check it out.)

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