telecom, technology and the occasional floobergeist

I’ve got an abundance of bits and pieces of canadian telecom and internet experience, and I am thrilled to be in a place in time when all is changing, technology is developing, and the status quo is being disrupted. 

Floobergeist is a word that is beginning to defy definition.  The more I roll that smooth pebble around, the more it becomes to mean. Floobergeist started out as the magic dust that turns dreams into ideas.  And then it began to encompass the zing that happens when you have conversations about those ideas. And now, it’s the whole evolution from dream to conversation, with each step improving the later and the former along the way.

Everyone aspires to good conversations. They can lead you to adventures you’ve never imagined, and to people you can twig with.

Let’s have a good conversation…


Filtering by Tag: wireless

Canada's Wireless Code of Conduct aka Protect the Sheeple

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission may be ringing in 2013 with one of the most ridiculous plans yet.

The Wireless Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines for wireless carriers to adhere to in providing servics to consumers in Canada.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the complaints and recommendations that make up this code were submitted by Canadian consumers who may not even have the intelligence to dial a cell phone, let alone understand the services that they are buying.

Top of the list: Outlaw 3 Year Contracts

The main reason for even having a 3 year contract is due to the fact that the average Canadian can’t afford to pay the full price for a cell phone. Having a 3 year contract allows for the carrier to subsidize the cost of the hardware and pass that subsidization onto the consumer. If the CRTC reall does force carriers to remove the 3 year contract option, consumers are now going to be on the hook for shelling out more dough up front for their phone. Likely to the tune of $200 or more, depending on the type of phone they want to get.

What’s funny about the whole contract debacle is the fact that people don’t HAVE to get a 3 year contract right now. All carriers offer various contract lenghts, depending on how much you want to pay up front.

Right now, you can get a Windows HTC phone with no contract for $599 from Bell Canada. You can get a Samsung Galaxy S III from TELUS for $650.

A very smart tech chick (hat tip to @followsandi) suggested that if the consumer bought the hardware upfront, there should be a decrease on the monthly service fees, since you don’t need to subsidize the cost of the hardware. I’m all for that — and it makes good sense. The downside of that is that it REALLY exposes the carrier’s margin models, and unless one of the carriers sees this as a great way to improve transparency with its customers, it’s unlikely that this will happen. You never know.

I’d like to see a few more options for pre-payment of hardware —— if I want to put down 50% of the cost of the phone, I’d like to have a different contract length. I expect that I could walk into any wireless store and make this sort of arrangement, and it changes the outstanding commitments I have with that carrier, since commitment is linked to revenue spend.  Maybe that’s the way to go —- have a minimum spend commitment with a carrier, and when you meet/exceed that commitment, your contract is over, and you’re free to change, upgrade or do the hokey-pokey.

Some of the recommendations are reasonable: alerts when you get close to your data limits, or your voice minutes. EASY ways to upgrade or downgrade services on the fly. 

But really, those recommendations have little to do with consumer safeguards and more to do with service development of the carriers. I expect that some of these recommendations have a pretty heavy service development cost associated with them. The big carriers may be able to shoulder the capital costs of the system upgrades, but the new entrants are going to be challenged with providing additional service features on products that they’re already struggling with.


It’s not going to be pretty, and it’s not going to be the right thing, but silly consumers —- you’re going to get what you get.

Slamming Canadian Telecom: Canada's Second Favourite Pastime

We are a whiney bunch. Full stop.

If it’s not the weather, how rotten our sports teams are or how miserable our government is, we’re bashing the hell out of any and all Canadian telecommunications companies for their crimes, real or imagined.

It’s so very ingrained in us, I’m not even sure Canadian consumers know exactly why they’re whining and complaining any more. It’s just a habit now.

  • If you were in London, UK, you’d be paying ~$60/month for average broadband internet. (40 Gb of data transfer and up to 20 Mbps of download speed)
  • If you have an unlimited cell phone plan in France, that’s going to cost you $135/month, and that doesn’t include a data plan.
  • If you’re in the US, and want to go with Verizon, you’re going to pay $115/month for 900 minutes of talk time, unlimited texting and a data plan.

All these prices have been converted to Canadian dollars.

You want to gripe about choices and competitive options?

Almost anywhere in Canada, you have upwards of 6 or more choices on who you’d like to have take care of your communications services. Big guys, small guys, and middle size guys are in the communications business.

Wireless carriers in the US? AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and and a handful of others. The trick is that they may not all be national, and a few of them I’d never heard of before. The other popular trick —- smaller guys launching a wireless service that’s overlayed on top of one of the BIG 2. Optical illusions :-D

I’ve been with 3 different wireless carriers, never had a billing problem yet.

Same for Internet Service Providers and TV service providers. Sure, the odd call into customer service, swap out a PVR because it’s gone wonky. Bing, bang, boom. Problem solved.

We are a very hard bunch to satisfy. We’re demanding, mean, threatening and fickle. Maybe we should be fired as customers instead?



Someone Else is Making Millions in Vegas

And it’s not me… ;-)

But whilst in the land of sun and sin and whatnot, it was pretty obvious that there was money being made, and not only at the gambling tables.

Every 3rd person on the street was on a cell phone, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t locals.  I started imagining all the roaming charges that were getting racked up…… there are a boatload of cell phone providers in Vegas.
But only 2-3 real carriers, the rest are MVNOs….. all those roaming charges falling into 3 real buckets. Mmmmm. Not to mention juicy data transfer charges.

I can’t wait to see the roaming fees on the Wiz’s cell phone…

If you can’t win at the roulette tables, setting up a cell phone service in Vegas will make you money just as fast!

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The Loud and Angry Voices of Wireless Users in Canada

What started off as as whisper is now turning into a dull roar about the cost of Canadian cell phone service.  Mark Goldberg has been kicking the ball around for a while, but now there are a slew ot teammates to take a pass.
Ryan at BlogTO
Jay at Radiant Core
Jeremy Latham
Sam Lu at GoSammy

These guys all seem to be relating to an article written by Thomas Purves which compares Canadian wireless services to that of a 3rd world country. That may be a pretty bold statement, intended to entice exactly the kind of reaction that is being received.  He’s got some great stats about the cost of using wireless data transfer. His call to arms just may entice the quiet, Canadian public to ruffle feathers with their wireless providers. I would imagine that this sort of stir is going to cause some stress to folks who measure mobile ARPU (average revenue per user)… i can hear the sound of Mobile Golden Egg cracking….

What’s next with wireless?  Well, if the stir over net neutrality is any indication……and data transfer is soon going to “clog up” the wireless networks, carriers will have to enforce “Quality of Service” levels, and applications will fall off the network.  You thought your cell phone bill was high last year?  Just wait till next year.  The huge marketing push over the past few years to increase data use is going to blow up, when carriers realize people are sending silly UTUBE videos to each other’s cell phones.

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Let Your Numbers Be Free!!

It’s here. Wireless number portability. I don’t feel different, and my phone still looks the same. Nonetheless it’s the dawning of a new era in Canadian Wireless communications.  Aside from a whirlwind of activity in the papers this past week, it’s been pretty quiet up to now on the significance of March 14th 2007 as to the impacts for Canadian consumers. It hasn’t been obvious that freedom was going to arrive at12:01 am.

Bell refused comment on the impact of number portability,Rogers said it will be “business as usual” while Telus called the change a “positive” opportunity.

I camped outside a Bell Mobility store at christmas, handing out WNP leaflets to unsuspecting folks, suggesting that they should postpone that new cellphone purchase for a few more months…. no, wait, just kidding. I considered the implications and then headed off in search of a Booser Juice;-) Unless you were really paying attention in the past 6 months,chances are that if your cell phone was ready to be replaced, or your service was ready to be renewed, you went ahead and recontracted for 2to 3 years. Sorry about that. Catherine McLean,from the Globe and Mail, has a great series of questions and answers on WNP.  Questions sent in from the pubic indicate a VERY wide gap in understanding cell phone service. Mark Goldberg mentions that most folks aren’t fully aware of the all the changes and potential upside/downside to number portability.  He had a great idea tho - move your cell phone to your VoIP provider, and get funky with the follow me features…. great idea Mark!!!

I expect the next few months are going to be quite lively.

globeandmail.com: Number portability

Tomorrow,cellphone users in parts of the country will be able to transfer their current phone numbers from one provider to another.

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