interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Tek Savvy’

Why Do Bell and Rogers Have Customers?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 10, 2010

No Usage Based BillingUnlike many Canadians, I am fortunate to live in an area where there is Internet competition.   The title question is something I’ve often wondered.

My family switched our Internet account to the Independent Internet Service Provider Tek Savvy a long time ago, and we have never for a minute regretted this.   Since then, we have received lots of junk mail from both Bell and Rogers attempting to get us to switch, but their special offers never seem as good a deal as we get from Tek Savvy.

Tek Savvy

I just paid my monthly flat rate Tek Savvy Invoice:

$29.95 per month before taxes
5 Mbps download speed
200 Gigabyte cap

Tek Savvy averages the 200 Gigabyte cap over 2 months, so if we’re a little over one month it balances out with the next when we’re a little under.   Having never been charged for exceeding the 200 Gigabytes bandwidth I don’t have any idea what going over would cost.

Before doing a comparison, I’d better explain that I had to buy a modem in order to connect to Tek Savvy. If memory serves, it cost in the neighborhood of a couple hundred dollars.

Another interesting note: if we were to decide to change ISPs, Tek Savvy doesn’t charge a penalty.   From what I’ve heard there are very heavy penalties for leaving other Internet service providers…

I took a look at the Internet packages that Bell Canada Offers:

Bell Canada’s Premium Internet Package

Bell Canada’s premium package is Fibe 25, pricing starts at $52.95 per month. For that you get 75GB/month; $1.00/additional GB, (max. $30/mo.), rounded up to the next GB.

Bell’s Fibe 25

  • Speeds of up to 25 Mbps1
  • New, next generation fibre optic network
  • Free wireless home networking and free Wi-Fi at Starbucks – a Bell exclusive
  • Security Advanced service included

But if you look closely you’ll see there are lots of “weasel words” in this advertising copy.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Performance you want

  • Faster download speeds – up to 25 Mbps.1
  • Fastest upload speeds in the market – up to 7 Mbps
  • Internet usage: 75 GB of bandwidth per month

Weasel words like ”up to 25 Mbps”

The speeds offered are ”up to” which means Bell doesn’t actually have to ensure customer speeds of 25Mbps.   If you get speeds of 2 Mbps instead of 25 Mbps Bell does not even have to give you a discount.  

Now, I’m not a tech person, but I have a real hard time understanding why download speeds are up to 25Mbps while upload speeds are at best 7 Mbps.

Funny, there is no ambiguity about the 75 GB of bandwidth per month that you get.   If you go a little over that limit, make no mistake, you will be charged.   The ONLY way this could be at all equitable would be if you are credited for under use, but of course Bell doesn’t offer that.

People who do know how to measure their Mbps speeds seem to think that the speeds Bell customers get are nowhere near the speeds claimed in Bell advertising.

And what about “throttling”? Bell Canada has carte blanch permission to throttle internet traffic.   They are allowed to slow down your transfer speeds.

Even worse, Bell Canada has CRTC permission to slow down my speeds, and I’m not even a Bell Canada Customer.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Wireless, free and exclusive

  • Free wireless home networking for all your home computers
  • An extra wireless N router included at no extra cost so you can connect computers, Wi-Fi devices to the Internet at the fastest speed available
  • Connect wirelessly to share files and printers
  • Free Wi-Fi Internet access at over 650 Starbucks® locations across Canada

They talk about providing a free wireless router.   What if your computers don’t have wireless cards?   Are they outfitting all of that?   From my point of view, I’m looking for an Internet connection.   Whether I tap into the connection with or without wires, I’d think that was my decision.   It sounds as though they are including a wireless router for free.

Meanwhile, they charge you a monthly rental fee for the the modem you need to connect to the Internet.

I wonder why Bell is making such a big deal out of this.   It kind of makes me wonder if they are actually foreshadowing one day soon when they’ll start charging a steep surcharge on wireless access.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Built-in security
Enjoy Security Advanced service which protects up to three computers in your home from viruses and hackers.   Includes anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, fraud protection, disk optimizer, parental controls, 5 GB of Personal Vault storage, pop-up blocker and information protection.

Do I really want Bell Canada to be in control of my internet security?

Bell Canada, this same Internet carrier who applied and received permission from the CRTC to deploy Deep Packet Inspection in order to better discriminate against certain types of Internet Traffic?   As pointed out by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (and ignored by the CRTC) this may in fact be a serious invasion of Canadian privacy.   Depending on how it is configured, and who is running it, DPI allows inspection of your packets– that is to say, whatever you upload or download from the internet.   Including email. Photographs. Home videos. In essence, the CRTC ruling gave Bell Canada legal permission to look into any of our unencrypted internet traffic. Bell Canada promised not to abuse this ability, and that was good enough for the CRTC, who didn’t impose any kind of oversight, so there is no means of policing Bell Canada’s use of DPI.   In essence, the CRTC gave Bell the key to all of our unencrypted private data.   For further information visit the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website hosting A Collection of Essays from Industry Experts on the Privacy aspects of DPI.

Am I really going to compound this by giving Bell control of my computer security too?

I don’t think so.

Maybe you are willing to trust every Bell Canada employee with access to your personal information, but me, I’m careful.   I don’t know their names, and even if did, I haven’t got the time or money to do background checks on them all. And we all know that background checks are fallible too.

You have to actually click on the “Certain Conditions apply” to see that:

Bell Canada’s fine print

  • Only available where technology permits
  • First, you pay a “One time activation fee ($29.95)” (– waived for Bell TV subscribers — isn’t that discriminatory?)
  • Modem rental ($6.95/mo.) extra.
  • $25 fee applies if you downgrade to slower-speed service
  • Additional service fee ($50 plus tax) applies upon early termination.
  • 30-day notice required to cancel service
  • Subject to change without notice and cannot be combined with any other offer.

[1] Speeds on the Internet may vary with your configuration, Internet traffic, server, applicable network management or other factors; see

[2] Additional equipment required, including cables and adapters. (even MORE hidden charges)
[3] Also available to customers where Bell TV service is not available.

Available to new customers and existing Bell Internet dial-up customers who sign up for Bell Fibe 25 Internet on a 1-year contract and at least 1 other select service; see Monthly rate $67.95 (subject to change), less $10 credit for months 1 to 12 ($5 ongoing as a Bell TV customer), and $5 Bundle discount. Bundle discount may be terminated by Bell upon 30-day notice.

Fibe 25

they get you coming and going

You pay $29.95 to sign up for this high speed package. Then there are modem rental and unspecified equipment/cables/adapters.

But if it isn’t all you were led to believe, and you choose to downgrade to slower-speed service, Bell Canada hits you with another fee, this time $25.

Canceling altogether costs $50 plus tax and it takes them thirty days (on the clock) to do it.

All for connection speeds that are not even guaranteed.

Bell Canada seems to be offering a contract where the customer is locked in, while everything Bell “commits to” is vague, flexible and subject to change without notice.   Doesn’t sound very fair to me.


Rogers offers a graduated series of packages, beginning with low transfer speeds and low bandwidth.
The lowest tier is Rogers Ultra-Lite, with 500kbps speed and 2Gigabites bandwidth for $27.99/month.
If you go over your limit, you are charged an additional $5.00/GB

3 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 25 Gigabytes bandwidth for $35.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.50/GB

10 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 60 Gigabytes bandwidth for $46.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

10 Mbps download, Up to 512Kbps upload speed allows you 95 Gigabytes bandwidth for $59.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.50/GB

Extreme Plus:
25 Mbps download, Up to 1Mbps upload speed allows you 125 Gigabytes bandwidth for $69.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.25/GB

50 Mbps download, Up to 2Mbps upload speed allows you 175 Gigabytes bandwidth for $99.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

Rogers pricing

Rogers Ultimate Fine Print

† Speeds may vary with Internet traffic, server or other factors.   Also see the Acceptable Use Policy at   Modem set-up: the system is configured to maximum modem capabilities within Rogers own network.

†† Usage allowances apply on a monthly basis and vary by tier of service.   Charges apply for additional use beyond the monthly usage allowance associated with your tier of service.   For details, visit

†††Rogers Hi Speed Internet (delivered over cable) and Portable Internet from Rogers currently manages upstream peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications speed to a maximum of 80 kbps per customer. This policy is maintained at all times. For information on Rogers Internet traffic management practices and Legal Disclosure click here.

1 Taxes and a $14.95 one-time activation fee apply, plus $7.00/mth modem rental or $199.95 modem purchase.

** The times specified are approximations and will vary depending on size and quality of content.

***Service only available in some areas in the GTA within Rogers serviceable areas. Digital TV subscription required.

Q: Why do Bell And Rogers Have Customers?

For an internet connection, there are really only two things to consider, the amount you can upload and download and the speed.
So my family gets 200 Gigabytes and 5 Mbps download speed for $29.95/month from Tek Savvy.

Rogers Ultimate offers 175 Gigabytes at 50 Mbps download speed for $99.99/month.

Bell’s Bell’s Fibe 25 offers of 75 Gigabytes at 25 Mbps download speed for $52.95/month

Although both Bell and Rogers claim to offer much higher Internet transfer speeds than I get from Tek Savvy, they are careful to tell you over and over again on their website that they are not actually obligated to deliver these speeds.   They are advertising “up to” speeds.

Since you can’t actually count on getting the advertised speed, really the only thing open for comparison is the allowed download/upload Gigabytes.   From where I sit, Bell and Rogers want to charge me a great deal more than I am paying Tek Savvy for a greatly reduced amount of download/upload Gigabytes.

So I really don’t get it. Why would people pay so much for so little?

The only answer that I can see is that for a great deal of Canada, the only choice available to Canadians is Bell Canada or Rogers.

Thanks to CRTC approval of Usage Based Billing, pretty soon that may be true for all of Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10728 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 8, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThis blog isn’t going anywhere as long as the threat or the fact of Usage Based Billing hangs over Canada.

Reading through the comments on the CBC online story CRTC approves usage-based internet billing clearly shows that many Canadians are misinformed about the issue. That isn’t surprising Because the ONLY “mainstream news coverage” of this very important issue that will affect all Canadians seems to have been provided by the CBC.

Clearly this blog has a lot to do. I think that UBB can still be stopped. If Ministry of Industry Tony Clement can be again persuaded to step in and overrule this CRTC decision as he did with the Windmobile decision both CRTC decisions being clearly contrary to the Canadian public interest it could be over very quickly.

There are many things that can still happen. There are many things that have not been addressed. But I still think one of the most crucial thing is spreading the word to the ordinary Canadian Internet users who do not know this hammer is about to drop on us all — and on our economy.

Bell Canada Logo


This only applies to Bell Customers.


As soon as all Bell Canada’s own customers are being charged Usage Based Billing, (even those currently with “unlimited” plans — fight to keep those puppies if you got ’em) the the CRTC decision has given Bell Canada permission to charge UBB to the customers of the Independent Internet Service Providers.

That means me. I get my Internet from Tek Savvy.
Even though I am not a Bell Customer, Tek Savvy is.

Independent Internet Service Providers purchase bandwidth from Bell and then repackages it to sell to their own customers.

This ruling means that in addition to what Independent ISPs already pay Bell, they will have to pay Bell for Customer Usage.

This CRTC ruling has given Bell Canada permission to charge usage based billing to us — all of us — all of the Canadians who have left Bell Canada — even though we are not Bell Canada’s customers.

This ruling will apply to the customers of all the Independent Internet Service Providers.

Help Spread the Word.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10640 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Cat Joke: Making Light of A.C.T.A.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThe following cautionary cat tale was found in one of the Pirate Party of Canada’s forums.

Pirate Party of Canada logo

Re: ACTA Task Force

3 Canadians and 1 American were sitting together watching the Mens Gold Medal Game in Vancouver bragging about how smart their cats were.

The first man was an Internet Service Provider,
the second man was a Copyright Law Professor,
the third man was a New Democrat Member of Parliment, and
the fourth man was a US Corporate Lobbyist.

To show off, the Internet Service Provider called his cat, “Broadband”, do your stuff.”

Broadband pranced over to the computer, logged in as admin and started downloading the entire internet.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Copyright Law Professor said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Public Domain, do your stuff.”

Public Domain went over to the computer, instantly sorted all of what Broadband was downloading and printed off a fair copyright royalties due spreadsheet.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the New Democrat M.P. said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Parlimentarian, do your stuff.”

“Parlimentarian got up slowly to the computer, created a Facebook page, linked it to Broadband and Public Domain, drafted a dozen emails and bill 398, made a YouTube video meowing for transparency from ACTA cat and meowed an indian war dance song.
Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the US Corporate Lobbyist and said, “What can your cat do?”

The US Corporate Lobbyist called his cat and said, “ACTA, do your stuff.”

ACTA jumped to his feet…….

Throttled Broadband’s torrents to a crawl and initiated a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Broadband and Internet Service Provider……..
Scrambled Public Domains online excel sorting rules and shit on the fair royalties due spreadsheet……..
filed an inflated grievance lawsuit for RIAA lost revenue…….
bypassed due process to convict 90% of humans under 40 years old of copyright infringement……
screwed the other three cats and claimed he hurt his back while doing so…….
put in for Corporate Compensation for injury on the job in a foreign country……………and
went home for the rest of the day on paid sick leave…………

Internet Service Provider, Copyright Law Professor and N.D.P. M.P. where last seen pooling their money to buy a dog.



Of course, I’m wondering who everyone is…

Copyright Law Professor would have to be Michael Geist.

And it’s more than reasonable to assume that the N.D.P. M.P. would be the most vocal Canadian MP opponent of A.C.T.A. Charlie Angus, but who could the Internet Service Provider be?

talktalk logoIf this was the U.K., it would be talktalk, the brave ISP waging war with the dread Digital Economy Bill (the U.K.’s opening act for A.C.T.A.)

Within the joke, “ISP” couldn’t possibly be Bell Canada or Rogers, since their use of consumer monitoring tools like DPI to help run their empires clearly place them in the pro-A.C.T.A. camp.

MTSallstream logo

So if we’re going to extrapolate the casting for this joke, for Canada the ISP would have to be one of our endangered Independent ISP’s like MTS Allstream or Tek Savvy (you can find a comprehensive listing of Independent Canadian ISPs here).

pseudo FBI Warning

And the U.S. Corporate Lobbyist, well, lobbyists are faceless representatives of the business, or in this case group of businesses in back of a piece of legislation, or in this case a whole body of international legislation.

These businesses have been trying to convince the citizens of the world that we don’t own what we’ve purchased for years. They started by placing supposed FBI warnings on videotapes threatening huge fines for non-commercial infringement. Then the earliest attempts at copy protection (DRM/TPM). Followed by aggressive marketing campaigns directed at the media customer base, in attempts to demonize personal use copying.

Now, in the face of these failed attempts to change global attitudes about copyright and ownership through advertising/propaganda, the copyright lobby seeks to change the laws to force the world to follow their rules.

They’ve been pursuing this war actively on two fronts. First, by lobbying individual countries to criminalize copyright infringement. But lately, this group (dubbed by Michael Geist “The Copyright Lobby”) has gone much further, by convincing the U.S. Government to push the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” which seeks to force the world to change copyright law through this secret treaty on a global scale.

The “Copyright Lobby” is made up of the American led Movie and Music Corporations along with their Interested Associations and Copyright Collectives. Of course this lobby group is attempting to remain faceless. because the real victim in their nefarious activities is their customer base. This is why they are attempting to get governments to do their dirty work, particularly through secret treaties like ACTA. They have the vain belief that they won’t alienate their customers.

The copyright lobby doesn’t have a logo, precisely because the companies they represent are attempting to stay out of the public eye. It’s a thinly veiled secret that the corporation unofficially leading the fight for terrible copyright “reforms” is the same company that once had to be legally compelled to give credit to the animators, actors, writers, musicians, technicians etc. who actually created their movies. Though he hadn’t actually picked up a pencil himself in years, the corporate founder felt that the only name attached to movies made by his corporation should be his own. In those days the law disagreed.

Nearly a century later this same corporation seeks to change the laws of all the world so they can maintain control of a mouse cartoon. Which is why interested parties have created this logo (right) for A.C.T.A.

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »