Has Bell Upgraded Internet Infrastructure?
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 17, 2011
Paul asked in a comment:
The statement that Bell has not upgraded their infrastructure is a powerful argument against the need for UBB. Could you please advise where you found this information so I can reference it in my own discussions? Thanks.
My only connection with any Canadian ISP is as a customer. I don’t have access to data, financial reports etc.
So I am looking at this issue clearly from the outside. And this is what I see.
When the Internet was first made available to the public, Canada quickly became a world leader. When Bell and Rogers entered the High Speed Internet market, they offered Canadians top speeds, and low prices for unlimited access. (They did such a good job that they killed off all the competition.)
Cheap and fast access is why Canadians so whole heartedly became early Internet adopters. And that’s why Canadians are currently some of the most Internet savvy and Internet connected people in the world.
Even though the costs consumers pay have gone up and up and up.
It is not cheap anymore. In fact, we are paying some of the highest rates in the world before implementation of UBB.
What happened? Why does Canada lag behind on every study?
(I discount so-called “studies” paid for by the Internet carriers; those are advertising.)
If you like graphs, this website Website Optimization: November 2007 Bandwidth Report shows where we were in 2007. (If you dig farther into the archives of this site you’ll likely find indications of the time when Canada was a leader), the figures here were not only borne out, but noticeably worse for Harvard’s 2009 study.
And here’s an article explaining the numbers, 10 Gigabytes Per Month! (one of the things I have trouble with)
The absolute best speed available to Bell Internet consumers are — for a premium — Upload speed: up to 7 Mbps.
No speed is guaranteed, everything is: “Up to.”
One of my main reasons for putting my oar in on this subject is because I’m a parent. That’s why one of the saddest things I’ve read on this subject is this highly personal account of Canadian access woes dating back to 2009.
If I do a Google Search for:
and a Google News search: bell canada upgrade infrastructure -site:bell.ca
The only things that come close are upgrades to their cell phone systems (HSPA). But for the Internet the single Bell upgrade is their DSLAMs, which provide only a tiny boost in service. As I understand it, this is not considered “part of the back-haul infrastructure.” These DSLAMs were deployed in limited locations, and Bell fought to be able to deny Independent ISPs any access to the increased speeds. Ultimately the CRTC forced Bell to share the speeds with the Independent ISPs.
Of course, that CRTC ruling won’t matter to Bell anymore if the Independent ISPs are forced out of the market by UBB.
Beyond the fact Bell is offering essentially the same bandwidth speeds as they were when they rolled out broadband service, it certainly doesn’t look like there has been any infrastructure improvement. If there had been can’t imagine why Bell would not be trumpeting it.
Bell’s best (per Bell website): up to 7 mbps
Japan’s best (per New York Times 2009): 160 mbps
Bell’s dual strategies have been to technically throttle customers, and now to introduce “economic traffic management.”
Both of these policies are designed to force consumers into less Internet access while still keeping Bell highly profitable.
If Bell actually improved the service they offered, they wouldn’t need to apply for permission to charge UBB. The traditional way for a corporation to justify increased rates has long been to provide added value. It seems that is no longer necessary in Canada.
Obviously Bell has made out very well indeed thanks to CRTC rulings. Recession or no, they seem to have enough disposable income to now buy the entire CTV Television Network.
So I’m not aware of any large-scale back-haul infrastructure upgrades performed by Bell. And you can’t prove a negative.