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Monday, May 15, 2006

Fuck Broadband 

All the hype over lower costs, higher speeds and local loop unbundling rather ignores the point that broadband is, or at least has been, a fairly crap way of accessing the net. I suggest the following problems are fairly common: slow speeds; bloody thing stops working on semi-regular basis; partial incompatibility with phone line. Well they've sure been common for me (our connection still falls over every time the phone is picked up, necessitating at minimum the closure of all browsers, and sometimes a complete restart).

Now, I distinctly recall living in Canada, using cable internet everyday: high speed, no problems with the phone, and at worst it failed about once every six months (sometimes due to in-house network problems). And now this:

Vidéotron now offers the quickest Internet connection in Canada, at up to 16 megabits per second (Mbps) – a speed that lets a user download three songs in 10 seconds.

After Vidéotron, Montreal-based Cogeco and Maritime cable operator EastLink C, owned by Halifax-based Bragg Communications Inc., have the next-fastest download speeds, at up to 10 Mbps.

In a three-way tie, cable firm Shaw Communications Inc. of Calgary and phone companies Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. of Winnipeg and Saskatchewan Telecommunications of Regina are all at more than seven Mbps.

Rogers offers maximum download speeds of up to six Mbps, Bell Canada of up to five Mbps, and Vancouver-based Telus Corp. of up to 2.5 Mbps.

OK, so apart from BC's Telus, that's practically light speed compared to what the domestic consumer gets here. But it's not just speed: it's reliability too.

I know speeds are increasing here, but even so, Canadians have been enjoying fast and reliable permanent internet connections for years (independent of poxy phone lines too).

Canada had the good fortune to to have a number of fevered dot-com outfits over-invest in laying fibre and then helpfully go titsup, leaving a whole lot of infrastructure as a sunk cost.

The Canadian government also has an excellent programme of interest-free loans to public institutions who want to install local fibre loops that will be open to public use. The government here is sort of edging towards this with the "broadband challenge" funding.

So they've got cable we have no show of getting in the next 20 years. But you should get Telecom to sort out your DSL. If the voice service is interfering with it that badly, the wiring is faulty and in need of technical remedy.

Thanks for that. And right, I will approach Telecom for a technical fix to the voice/internet issue.

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