Internet Service Providers

by Mr. Cheap

I was really impressed with the comments and discussion when a post on VOIP services (and specifically Vonage) generated a lively discussion last year.  Along similar lines, I’d be very interested in what people have been using for their ISP in Canada, especially anyone based in Ontario.

I used Bell years ago, and without fail they messed up everything they had the chance to mess up.  Recently a man called me asking what it would take to get me back at Bell.  I told him straight-up that I didn’t believe anything Bell offered me, so there wasn’t really any way they could get me back (which seemed to be the right answer as it got me off the cell phone quickly).  A friend in Toronto got a similar call where the woman was VERY hard sell trying to get her to switch from Rogers to Bell.  After my friend asked if she could review the numbers and call back if she wanted Bell’s offer (the answer was no, she had to accept immediately) I figured that Bell is the same old company it has always been, despite how they keep claiming they’ve changed.

I’ve been happy overall with Rogers, but the one thing they do that’s driving me nuts is that they’ve started charging a “usage overage fee” (basically a bandwidth cap that you get charged per gigabyte if you exceed).  The fee itself doesn’t really bother me, but they snuck it into their service (after I purchased “unlimited Internet” I don’t like that they’ve suddenly and quietly changed it to “very limited Internet”).  It’s also no fun checking every day what your usage is to make sure you aren’t using up your monthly allotment too quickly.

Recently I’ve gotten to the point that I’m ready for a change.

Most of the small ISPs are Bell re-sellers, which basically uses the same technology Bell uses, but you interact with another company.  I’ve dealt with a number of these over the years, and they’re ok for the most part, but inevitably problems seem to come up that they blame on Bell (and Bell blames on the re-seller), which from a customer’s perspective gets annoying in a hurry too.

I was originally going to sign up with “Yak” when I moved to Waterloo, but they had this stupid policy that you have to set up your home phone with them, THEN you can sign up for Internet with them (and they’ll be delivered in 2 installation trips).  This was silly enough that I decided not to do business with them.

I used Primus for my home phone / Internet years ago and at the time I didn’t have any complaints with them.  I switched to Vonage for a cheaper price and regretted it.

Teksavvy has come up a few times when I’ve been researching ISPs and is supposedly good, but I’ve never talked to anyone who is actually their customer.

One thing Rogers claims about Bell (and their re-sellers) is that they supposedly have a hidden cap as well, above which your speed suddenly slows down dramatically.  So instead of charging you when you exceed their cap, they just slow your transfers to a crawl.  Has anyone experienced this or know enough to verify / disprove it?

I’m currently paying about $70 / month for Internet and phone (before usage fees and long distance charges, last month’s bill was $100 which prompted this post).  I’m willing to pay this rate ($70), ideally without a transfer cap.  Unlimited long distance (within Canada is good, to the US as well is even better) would be gravy.

What is your phone / Internet plan?  What company is it with?  How much are you paying and how happy have you been with the service?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rich

I’ve tried Vonage as well, but was deeply disappointed with both their product and customer service.

In South Western Ontario we also have Cogeco (which I believe is owned by Rogers), whom I was happy with for a while, but after a while our connection started dropping daily and Cogeco seemed unwilling to help. The really funny part of that whole mess is the last thing I was told by their customer support when I canceled all my services with them.

Rep: “Have a good day and thanks for choosing Cogeco”

Me: “But I just UN-chose you”

2 Jordan

This doesn’t help you much since I’m in Vancouver, but I like to brag that my apartment has a 10mbps connection hooked up to a fiber line in our building for $40/month.

Since it’s run by a nice local ISP NovusNow.ca they don’t block any ports, restrict access, throttle bit torrent, or screw up in any way over the past 2.5 years.

When we eventually move out of this place I’m really going to miss this connection, in the past I’ve had horrible experience with Telus & Rogers, and I hear Bell is worse still.

3 guinness416

We use primus for both internet and home phone and I would have no problem recommending them. They’re great – quite cheap, no issues with service and they have a phone package with unlimited US & Canada calling, which is important to us – my husband has a lot of family in the states, and we still have a lot of friends there. Oh and they give airmiles! Including everything I think it’s about $80 a month. Given the amount of stress involved with other providers I really have no interest in shopping for cheaper deals at this point.

I wouldn’t use Bell again if they paid ME to use their services. I don’t care about their pricing or their packages. In terms of customer service, they are the worst company in the western world.

4 Elasticlad

I’ve stuck with Bell, through thick and thin, for a number of years. Solely because my father used to work for the company.

I say ‘used to’ because in September, after 30+ years of service, he was unceremoniously retired in advance of the big buyout by the Teachers.

Remember that?

Like anyone else I’ve had great customer service and terrible customer service with Bell. I’d often get off the phone with one clueless and\or unhelpful service rep, call right back and have my problem dealt with in minutes by someone who was actually on the ball.

Provided they don’t screw up, I’m satisfied to stay with them for now. But when they do screw up, I won’t feel the need to be loyal any more.

5 Mr. Cheap

Rich: That is funny! I guess that’s what you get when you tell your services reps to always end calls the same way.

Money Minder: That’s my fear. I’m hoping to find a reasonable ISP, but maybe you’re right.

Jordan: Maybe I should move in with you? 🙂

Guinness: Do they have overage fees? (or maybe you and the hubby don’t max out your connection)

Elasticlad: That suck’s. I hope he got some sort of golden handshake if he was forced out.

Have you encountered transfer caps with them (either higher prices or a service slow-down?)

6 Jerry Hung

I am in Waterloo

Bell basic landline, no features
$30 after tax

TekSavvy DSL internet – LOVE’d them, swear by them and their excellent customer service
$28.34 after tax (I’m on group plan of $3 discount/month).
Premium, 200GB Cap, faster tier
Unlimited is $10/month more, 2nd tier

TekSavvy also offers landline at $21.48+tax/month

As for Long Distance, TS offers it too but you’re free to go whomever you choose

7 Mr. Cheap

Jerry: Hmm, that does sound like TekSavvy might be the way to go! A 200 GB cap is far more reasonable (Rogers has a 60 GB cap).

How can I get on your group plan? 😉

8 Jerry Hung

You can always form your own group if you have 4 people, otherwise $3/month is not a big deal either

RFD has a long going thread with people forming groups (make sure group name stays private)
http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/showthread.php?t=526728

9 nobleea

You guys need Shaw out there. They’re reasonable and customer service is top notch.

10 Adam

I’m with Teksavvy for DSL, home phone and NA long distance service. I did all the research when I made the switch from a Rogers high speed and babytel voip. For a lower monthly expenditure, I got rid of the inconsistencies of VOIP and the torrent shaping of Rogers. I find 200GB per month more than enough. Torrent speed is slowed during the evening (thanks to Bell), but over night things pick up again.

11 Potato

I’ve used Teksavvy for dial-up while roaming, their reps are generally awesome. I’m always tempted to switch to them at home, but this house is over a hundred years old, and I think the interior wiring is about the same vintage, and no Bell reseller so far has been willing to give me a free trial to even see if DSL will work in this house.

Unfortunately, Bell does spread its throttling to the resellers now.

12 Mr. Cheap

Hmm, Teksavvy seems to be winning the race. Interesting article from the Star, thanks for the link Potato!

13 rob

in my apartment, in toronto, we couldn’t get high speed with bell (based on their website, where they ask for a postal code). i’m not sure if this is a mistake or not, it seemed weird. i assumed it to be the truth and thus went with rogers.

we don’t have cable, and use the internet as our method of getting most of our media – tv shows, movies, music, etc. i also have to download very large software packages, updates, and so on for some work that i do. therefore we elected to go with the extreme – which we pay $55 a month for. it is a lot, but we use it for everything so i’m happy with it. every month i’m inbetween the limit for the cheaper plan’s bandwidth cap, and my imposed cap, so it was somewhat a good move. it’s also a bit faster which saves a lot of time when i have to download a 4 GB package and need it to continue on with work.

i also feel like i’m in some kind of freezone at times because when i use torrents i have hit speeds of over 1 MB down and 100 KB up. these speeds are much more impressive then a similar bell connection at my parents’ house. so overall i’ve been happy with it. we also have our home phone with rogers. our bill is about $90/month all in.

14 HB

I’m in Waterloo as well. I use Teksavvy ($28) and Vonage (~$26/month) and have been very happy with both.

15 David

Using Telus in Alberta for internet & land line. Nothing special, but got a promo through work for 1/2 price for a year. I really wanted to comment on Wintel for long distance. It may be on a VOIP backbone, not sure, but its $ 0.25 per call, no matter how long you talk. Now this may not be the best plan for everyone, and there are some system access fees, but it works great for infrequent, long calls that we make. Oh, and this is for Canada & the US (except for areas serviced by Northwestel, where my parent’s live 🙁

16 SD

Very happy Teksavvy and Vonage customer here too (using TS dryloop for an extra $7.25/month). I’d been having connection issues for a while with Bell and had Bell techs come repeatedly to my condo to no avail. One of the problems with Bell is that once they find out you’re using non-Bell equipment (such as a basic router!), they immediately claim it’s your equipment’s fault. After I switched to Teksavvy, I called their customer service (in Ontario, not India), and found them to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They sent a tech over within a day and he spent nearly two hours checking my lines until he found a short and arranged to fix it. Since then our service has been excellent. For some reason in the process we got upgraded to a 7M line, too. Bonus.

An awesome Teksavvy feature is that they offer multi-link PPP, which lets you bypass Bell’s download throttling using custom firmware on the popular Linksys WRT54GL router (http://fixppp.org/index.php?p=about).

I chose TS after reading rave reviews of their service on dslreports. At the time, they were the highest rated ISP in North America.

17 nafio

I also use Primus for both home phone and for internet. I actually started off back in my dialup days at a company called Passport that eventually got bought up by Primus.

I stuck with dialup up until about 18 months ago because their dialup was so fast and reliable, and their tech support always *believed* me when I said “I’ve done x, y, and z, already.” (As a female calling tech support that’s rare indeed)

I haven’t noticed any of the throttling reported by Bell customers, and haven’t ever had extra internet charges despite fairly heavy usage. My own fees may be a grandfathered packaged by this point but for both phone and internet I pay just under $60 a month.

I’d love to switch to them for my cell phone when my Rogers contract runs out in July but I think in that area their plans and coverage may not be strong enough to compete.

18 HB

SD, thanks for the multi-link PPP reference. Sweet, no more throttling!

19 Chris W. Rea

I use and like Primus for DSL (5 Mbps), but it does take a while to get customer service on the phone when you need them (not often). Other than that, no complaints and the price is right.

20 Jason

Not that it will help you much.. But I’ve used Shaw for the last 10+ years in Saskatoon and Vancouver and have no complaints. Sure I’ve had an outage or 2. But I think we’ve had more power and Sasktel outages in the same time frame so I can’t really complain.

I’m just on the $39.95/mos plan which has a 60GB limit which is good for most people. Occasionally I go over. You can pay more for up to 150GB/mos I think.

Haven’t made the jump to voip for phone yet. I was holding on to my landline as it works even when the power is out. But with 2 cell phones in the house, that shouldn’t really worry me.

21 c0sm0420

If you are looking for VOIP service and have a bit of tech. knowledge (like how to setup your own VOIP adapter like the <a href=”http://www.canadianvoipstore.com/product_info.php?products_id=1663 Linksys SPA2102 ) then there are many small companies that are very cheap.

<a href=”http://les.net/products/product_ipdidcanada.php LES.net is an example.

22 Patty Ho

oh, my building actually got bought out by Rogers. I can’t even choose Bell as my service provider. My husband is a big time downloader. He used to use TechSavvy, and they are great!

However, they run on Bell’s line! Without Bell’s equipment in the condo, we are simply screwed by Rogers. Now everything I have is with Rogers due to the bulk discount.

Rogers DO cap the BT downloads only if you are using just normal express speed. We are using extreme speed so there were no problems. However, because we download too much, we paid extra 25 dollar for exceeding the download limit every month. Therefore we just end up downloading as much we can every month. lol

23 ResaleDiva

I use att yahoo fastest internet connection for $29 a month, plus about $25 more for a land line. I’ve whittled the land line down to basic’s. No call waiting or caller id. I buy a LD calling card for 2cents a minute at Costco (the cheapest ATT offers is 8cents a minute but you have to pay $10 a month to get it) . Even if you don’t belong to costco you can buy a LD card off their website for a $3 charge. I thought it was worth it as I didn’t have to drive there and go in that gargantuan store. The card was delivered free-no postage charge from ordering on their website. My phone bill usually stays around $50-$55 a month.

24 ResaleDiva

I use att yahoo fastest internet connection for $29 a month, plus about $25 more for a land line. I’ve whittled the land line down to basic’s. No call waiting or caller id. I buy a LD calling card for 2cents a minute at Costco (the cheapest ATT offers is 8cents a minute but you have to pay $10 a month to get it) . Even if you don’t belong to costco , they only charge an additional $2-$3 for the card . I thought it was worth it as I didn’t have to drive there and go in that gargantuan store. The card was delivered free-no postage charge from ordering on their website. My phone bill usually stays around $50-$55 a month.

25 Penny Pincher

Mr Cheap:
Did you choose to switch providers?
I just wasted an evening of my life talking with Bell and Rogers customer service reps. (None were actually located in Canada).
I’m trying to choose between Teksavvy and Primus. I couldn’t find any other reasonable localish providers – I’m moving from Waterloo to Kitchener.
My friends enjoy the speed of Primus but advised the technical support and customer service are terribly slow to resolve problems.
I’m curious to know what you decided!

26 Mr. Cheap

Hi Penny,

I haven’t actually switched yet (I’m a procrastinator), but I settled on Teksavvy (next time I move I’m switching to them). I had some bad experiences with Primus…

27 Jess

I’ve got a basic phone line from bell $26 including tax per month. I got MagicJack for telephone and long distance. $0 per month. My highspeed is esuite.ca paying only $26 per month. My TV cable is included in my condo. So basically I’m paying to all of that for just $52! while people pay around $200 to $300

And oh yeah…. my only problem is my cell where I’m paying about $60 unlimited for everying in Fido but now, I might switch because they just took out unlimited incoming text.

28 Dan

the problem with bell that you mentioned with the speeds slowing down once capped seems to be a perfect explanation for the phenomenon.
I have bell and am charged a constant price but every month near the end for about a week or so the internet slows to unbearable loading.
Also i’ve noticed that most saturday and sunday evenings when too many people in the area (most of which also have bell) are online the service shuts down every now and then for up to 10 minutes at a time.

29 ed

I use Ooma voip phone. Love it. I pay $4 per month with the option of going premium with all the bells and whistles.

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