Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Messing with the internet

If there's one group most people in Iqaluit like to grumble about, it's NorthWesTel. I realize it's not the easiest job in the world to bring phone and internet to an isolated part of the world like Iqaluit. Hell, 10 years ago you were luck to get dial up and you'd take even if it meant waiting five minutes for a page to load sometimes.

But that was 10 yeas ago and access to the internet is considered a vital service now. Government depends on it to conduct its day to day affairs. Businesses depend on it to be able to operate. And the rest of us depend on it just as a lifeline to the outside world.

That's why people here tend to get so frustrated by NWTel's internet service. Look, we know it's not easy to get reliable, affordable high speed internet, but you've taken up the responsibility, so perhaps you ought to live up to it. And hell, I thought they were actually doing pretty good the last few months. A few drops in service the past few weeks, but I assumed that had to do with sun transits (during the spring and fall the sun interferes with satellites in the arctic). Yes, I was paying $100/month for internet that is still slower than what I would get in southern Canada. Yes, the 10gig cap is deeply annoying. And yes they did increase the amount from $80 to $100 last year. But overall, I was almost getting happy with NWTel. There was still room for improvement, but they were doing better than a year ago. .

Except today I got a note from a friend of mine asking if NWTel had contacted me because they were doing a phone survey. Apparently high speed "ultra" service is costing them too much, even with them charging $100/month and two cents a mb once you blow your cap. So they're presenting three options:

1. Increase the price of this package.
2. Reduce the monthly cap of this package.
3. Slow down the speed to allow more users on same bandwidth.

Well, allow me to offer a fourth option...If they honestly call and say these are the options, then I'll tell them I'm quitting NWTel and buying a satellite internet dish. Yes, the installation is close to $600. And yes, it's slightly more expensive per month to use. However, there is no cap. There is some regulating of speed depending on usage and time of day, but for the most part, it's reasonable according to people I've spoken with.

I'm not a huge downloader, not by any stretch. I like to download a few new records a month. I like to watch some YouTube videos and whatnot. But I'm mostly doing standard web surfing. I'd like to be doing more, but I'm aware of the cap, I'm aware of the fiscal pain that comes with blowing your cap badly, as I have several times.

So really, if NWTel is going to come and either A. make my service worse or B. charge me a lot more for what is, at best, very average service then I'm going with C. Taking my business somewhere else.

I just want a reasonable internet service. That's not too much to ask for, is it?

Last Five
1. Twistin' by the pool - Dire Straits
2. This is not America - David Bowie
3. Music in a foreign language - Lloyd Cole
4. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams*
5. Not too late - Norah Jones

1 comment:

The Perfect Storm said...

High speed internet service to all areas of Canada should be the new National Dream.

There is a revolution happening that even astonishes me, and I've been in IT since the late '70s. Without the appropriate access to information (we all surf but I mean the real stuff), it will be like the towns and villages that got bypassed when the railway came through over a century ago.

They shrivelled up and disappeared.

Villages on the line grew up to be centres of commerce and prosperity.

Of all places The North is too important to Canada for this to be allowed to happen.

Heck, I'll even forgo Bell Canada running internet access altogether into my cottage 2 km off the main road if a national program works to distribute reliable high speed access into the remote north.