high speed

Canada – The Dial-Up Dungeon ?

It appears that even with the progresses we’ve had in Canada when it comes to the internet that some are still behind.

A quarter million of Canadian internet users still use dial-up according to the Convergence Consulting Group, a large percentage of which are in rural areas according to the CRTC. And of those who subscribe to high speed, only 52% have the necessary speed to download standard definition films.

Though 77% of Canadians are able to access services that are fast enough to stream high definition video content according to the Broadband Report, only 2% use these services. And it is obvious that it is because these services are prohibitively expensive that more Canadians are not subscribed.

Usage based billing has kept most Canadians from using these services to rent and purchase films online. And though the taxpayer is responsible for most of the infrastructure, we are still being told to pay more.

Perhaps the rates might go down once the spectrum management issues are resolved at the CRTC, which could result in the introduction “Super Wifi” into Canada’s major urban centers.

Unfortunately this wireless service could have issues in communities where analog television broadcasts still exist and digital television broadcasts are only mandatory in the major city centers.

The technology is also in its infancy, having only just been introduced in the United States in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Rogers Video Ends Renting Services

Rogers Video stores across Canada will no longer rent DVDs or Blu-ray discs tomorrow.

Starting this week this chain will offload their film stock at reduced prices leaving Canadian consumers with very limited options in regards to renting films.

Cable and satellite subscribers will continue being able to rent films on their digital boxes and Canadians with access to high speed connections have access to online film rental services like Cineplex, Cinemanow, iTunes, Netflix and Youtube. But it appears the mail services and kiosks are now the only viable options for people who do not have access to cable, satellite and high speed internet services.

Unfortunately the kiosk services offered by Zip and Best Buy are limited to major cities at the moment, though they will probably expand in response to the demand. And the cable, satellite and high speed internet options remain expensive.

The current rental fee for recent high definition releases on my digital cable service is $7.99. And if I were to rent these films online in 720p I would use an average of about 4 gigabytes worth of usage per film towards my usage limit.

I am hoping that the digital cable rental fee will be reduced in response to public demand. But at the moment I am also testing out The Movie Network and Moviepix as a cheaper alternative, though releases on The Movie Network still appear to be subjected to a considerable delay.

As it stands I appear to prefer Moviepix for the channel’s selection of classic films and will likely subscribe to this service until Bell’s Fibe TV service is introduced to my neighbourhood.

I will probably dabble in online film rentals, within strict limitations, and use Zip.ca‘s services as my main source for newer releases.

As previously reported on this blog, Zip will be expanding their kiosks. And I believe theater companies like Cineplex, Empire and AMC will eventually offer kiosk services in their locations in respond to the demand left by Roger Video‘s departure.

I am also hoping for a national expansion of the Best Buy branded kiosks to Best Buy and Mac’s locations through-out Canada.

The Fleecing of Internet Users In Canada

As you may or may not already know, the days of the unlimited internet died in Canada this month.

Gone are the days where one wouldn’t need to worry about limits and extra charges because Shaw and Primus have decided to go the way of Bell and Rogers. They have decided to use caps and extra fees.

When I had originally joined Bell Sympatico years back I had a relatively inexpensive plan and unlimited internet for years.

The speed of the connection was o.k but this was prior to the higher resolution videos on Youtube, the site I frequent the most, and eventually I wanted to upgrade to a faster connection.

Unfortunately when I was offered the faster connection, at a cheaper price, I was introduced to capping. I was limited to a 60 gigabite amount with optional extra gigabites for a few dollars more.

I was not informed that I would have my uploads and downloads limited to 60 gigabites so I was disappointed. But I had never surpassed 40 gigabites anyway, so I managed it.

A year or two back Bell contacted me once more. They were offering a faster connection and more discounts. But this time I scrutinized the offer and found out they were going to reduce my uploads and downloads to 40 gigabites.

Yes, they were going to take $10 off my bill. But I would then need to pay $5 of it back to get extra gigabites to cover the higher amount of transfers I was now at because of chatting and the 720p videos on Youtube.

I of course explained the situation and the salesperson concured that it wasn’t in my best interest to take this offer.

If I had taken the offer I wouldn’t have able to try Netflix. I wouldn’t have had the chance to view many of the 1080p videos on Youtube, which can add up quite quickly.

To save broadband I view most of the videos at 480p. But since the introduction of widescreen video it still adds up. And I would find it impossible to limit my usage to 25 gig cap that is currently being offered to some Bell customers so I wont be changing my plan soon.

Unfortunately for us Canadians, it appears that we are doomed to have the most expensive Internet fees in the world, as determined by Harvard in eary 2010.

Our infrastructure is aging, resulting in additional expendatures, and WIMAX will not be possible until 2012, well after the Analog to Digital transition of Canadian television networks.

Then there’s the issue that WIMAX could be controled by many of the major players like Bell and Rogers, who own some of the television networks.

Are they going to offer competitive rates with WIMAX or play monopoly to pad their stock value ?

Will they play the illegal download card as an excuse to cap WIMAX transfers and/or whine about their landline expeditures ?

I don’t know but i’m sure we’re going to need to fight at least one of these issues to try to keep our prices from skyrocketing.

So much for the promises of inexpensive access.