Is Free Television Being Phased Out ?

Do you guys remember when we were first told that off air television broadcasts would go digital and that more people would be getting free television using antennas ?

Do you remember when we could watch television programs for free online legally through the Canadian network web sites ?

Well, if you want proof that the cable and satellite companies don’t want people to “cut the cord” you just have to look at the current status of television in Canada.

It started with Global Television in my area.

I had decided to stop paying $7 plus tax per month for extra outlets and although I was able to receive Global Television clearly for months, it has suddenly disappeared one summer.

Apparently the owner of the network decided to reduce the strength of the transmission so now an external antennae is required. But this was of course no problem because I was able to access television programs online via the network’s web site.

Then a few months back I noticed I was no longer receiving CTV, which had a strong signal until then.

I am located within 15 kilometers from the broadcasting tower for both stations so there was no reason for my loss of CTV as well. But like Global Television, CTV is also owned by a cable or satellite provider so I had assumed that they also reduced their off air broadcasting strength. And again I decided to stick to on demand and online broadcasts until I get an external antenna.

By then I had switched from Rogers Cable to Bell Fibe TV so I was mostly just watching television programs on demand for free, just like I has done with Rogers. But since Rogers had purchased the rights to the hockey broadcasts there appeared to be issues relating to what could be viewed by what subscribers online.

Now Canadians are being asked to login their cable or satellite provider accounts to view television programs on the major network sites. And the selection of programing is currently  limited to the networks owned by their provider.


Personally I think we should be able to get our local channels off air and online based on our IP address.

There should be enough advertisement revenue there for networks to profit on and cable and satellite providers could always give people access to specialty networks and  on demand programming.

We should be progressing off the problematic off air VHF frequencies and move stations to UHF like most American networks have.

Phase 3 of the “Let’s Talk TV” consultations at the CRTC will begin in April with the publication of details on the public hearing scheduled in September. And from the government’s response last Budget Day, it appears that our cable/satellite channels may get unbundled.

Hopefully this will not be more expensive for consumers, a concern we should all share because these companies have been hiking their rates excessively over the past few years.

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting estimated in Oct 2013 that many of Canada’s cable companies had hiked their rates from 81% to 96% since 2002 ; Almost five times inflation. And Forbes believes the model is unsustainable so we’ve got to wonder what exactly we’re going to be subjected to as consumers.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had mentioned that “cable-TV companies have become like utilities because there are only so many providers that offer the service in a certain region” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last October so perhaps the current government is considering regulating them. But I guess we’ll only know for sure after  the public hearings in September.

By the way, you can access information in regards to the previous phases of “Let’s Talk TV” on the official CRTC web site, which includes comments from the public.

Bell’s Fibe TV – Wait !

I’ve been on this service for two months now and when it comes to the television side of the service I’m quite happy.

It’s slightly cheaper than cable, the reception is pretty consistent and though time shifting is no included in the basic package, there is pretty much no need for it because of the video recorder.

Well, of course you’ve read the title of this article and know what word is coming up…. BUT !

BUT when it comes to internet I have been subjected to an issue that I think everyone should be made aware of.

During the month of August I had been noticing that my internet transfers would just stop.

I couldn’t load a page or random item so I assumed from what I had read online that my D-Link Powerline devices were failing. And I decided to go wireless until I got a wired network up to my second floor.

Then the wireless started failing.

The connection rate was high but the transfer rates started dropping erratically. And when I decided to stream an HD video from a USB stick I have connected to the back of the Bell branded Segamcom modem it worked fine.

I had never had this issue on the Fibe 12 service so I was perplexed. How could I be connecting to my local devices, including an NAS, and getting such miserable service from the internet ?

“Sync No Surf”

Apparently this issue has plagued some Segamcom modem users for years, on Bell, Teksavvy and other internet providers.

Also known as “ping no browse”, this issue causes users to be unable to surf even when they are able to use their connection to ping hosts to see if they’re active.

It can cause most users to be unable to surf for a minute to fifteen minutes and can cause modems to reboot themselves. But it also doesn’t happen to every user of a particular model of modem, which has puzzled technicians for years.

A firmware upgrade is scheduled from October to January at Bell so if you’re thinking about joining Bell Fibe ask if their modems have had their firmware upgraded before joining. And state that you are concerned about “sync no surf”.

I’ve had to inform myself of this issue independently from their tech service, who have had me reboot my modem repetitively and have had numerous technicians over to check my line, to no avail.

Save yourself the hassle and shop around.