Monday, January 31, 2011

Nearly Criminal

Bell. Grr.

Bell - Canada's major phone company. Also does satellite TV, Internet, and owns a bunch of crap. I've covered this before.

I've also mentioned how I'm in their rapidly dwindling echelon of hated users. Not because I use their phone lines, or their cell service, but because of my Internet usage. You see, I'm part of a dying breed - the guy on the Unlimited plan. The "lines" I'm on aren't the upgraded variety where I can get "up to" 25mb/s, but I have no bandwidth cap.

In their ongoing to attempt to get me to leave, they up my rate by $5 every 6 months. The latest increase just came in. This one coincided nicely with the CRTC's ruling that resellers (ie.- 3rd party providers using Bell and Rogers' lines) can now get screwed by the big boys. Where before, you could leave Bell and go to someone like Teksavvy in order to avoid caps, that option is now gone. Sure, you'd still be on Bell lines, but you'd have 200GB/month. Now? Teksavvy is forced to drop their cap to 25GB/month because our regulatory institution is in the back pocket of corporate Canada. Fuck.

Bell might now win. I'm now paying more per month for old service than their top-tier "fiber" (not really fiber) option. That one has a 75GB cap and for $5 I can add another 40. 75 isn't enough... 115 should be. If not? Another $5 for another 40.

But the whole thing pisses me off. Canada is a country that is ruled by monopolies. Bell was once the ONLY phone provider - it was government mandated. Rogers was once the only choice for TV in Toronto after it crushed or bought its competition. Eventually, Rogers moved into phone service, Bell into TV, and both into Internet and cell phones. But while they'll compete against each other, they're pretty united in hating the consumer.

See, Netflix came to town a few months ago with a streaming service. Rogers also has a bunch of video rental stores, and their VoD service. Bell has its VoD as well, and both have just launched online VoD. Can YOU see where they might want a convenient excuse to cap users? I can't... must be all this bullshit in my way.

I fully expect to see them partner with Microsoft, Sony, and possibly Nintendo as well - "Hey PS3 users! If you're on Bell, your PSN downloads don't count against your cap!" Considering I get all my games from Steam these days, there's another GB-sucking portal.

And you know what's rapidly disappearing? Physical media. CDs, DVDs, video games in a box - they all have limited retail lives as download speeds and storage increase. If you can grab a 10GB game while you sleep, why go to the store? HD movies streamed instantly? Downloadable in an hour to keep? Can't see the need for a player much longer. Even books are increasingly being downloaded to e-readers. Smart phones connect to your WiFi network to surf and grab apps.

The point being that ALL entertainment and information is going online and being downloaded, and being charged nearly $2/GB (if you don't pay for a block) when it costs at most PENNIES for the companies to provide it is damned near criminal. The fact our regulatory body, who is SUPPOSED to be looking out for the citizenry, the consumers, and the well-being of the country, as failed so epically is disgusting. They've effectively condemned Canada into staying in the stone ages technologically, at the mercy of a handful of large, established corporations who have only their own interests at heart. The small guys can't compete. Their ONLY competitive edge has been taken away. Nobody has the kind of capital required to lay physical communication lines across the second largest country in the world.

The only source of competitive hope would be one of the low-cost wireless carriers investing in a high-speed 4G cell broadband network. Pay for cell service, pay for at-home wireless broadband. Unlimited data on a tethered plan? That would still take some massive investment, but less than burying cable.

That, or the Googlenet will have to come to Canada.

Anybody want to connect a 54km Ethernet cable from my house to a US router?