For whom the Bell tolls…

I’m attending the Access 2002 conference next week in lovely Windsor, Ontario. The conference is being held in the Cleary International Centre, a hall that has no Internet access of any kind.

The conference organizers contacted Bell Canada to see about getting ADSL access installed. They were told that this would take many weeks, that the cost for 3 days would be billed at their minimum 30 days, and that the total cost, with installation, would be about $10,000.

The solution for a while was to simply use dial-up modem access into the University modem pool; this struck me as being basically insane in 2002, and so I offered to help find other solutions.

I was fortunate to find a very nice woman named Sarah at COGECO, the cable provider in Windsor, and their company agreed to provide Internet access to the conference for free.

Obviously the “hey, we’re a monopoly and we can charge whatever the hell we want” ethic has not left Bell’s Windsor offices.


Alan's picture
Alan on October 16, 2002 - 17:04 Permalink

Send this to the Globe and Mail, CBC and the National Post, Peter. This is beyond belief.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on October 16, 2002 - 18:16 Permalink

Add Industry Canada to Alan’s list.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on October 17, 2002 - 13:10 Permalink

Ferfrigsakes fellas, when you have coal-fired routers, spinning wheels converted to flywheels to drive ethernet switches, and about 7 million tons of corroded copper wire that’s at least two gauges too small to carry a DSL signal more than 25% of spec, how do you expect this elephant to wash it’s trunk?

And if you think that’s a rhetorical question, deliberately filled with unflattering inuendo, consider this: Worldcomm will not be permitted to falter because of the interruption in data services that will flow even though there are competent data carriers who would relatively quickly pick up the slack (as prices normalize — read: rise). But the US government would never put up with the embarassment of three weeks of really shitty global Internet service caused by one of their “darlings”.

My conclusion: If Bell can’t rip people off directly the federal government will do it for them. Don’t underestimate Bell’s hold on Ottawa. When the IP number thing popped up a few months ago they had a fully time “communications contact” operating as a go-between to answer the hundreds of calls coming from various departments and offices (more than a dozen MPs became involved at least to the point of asking a question). The “communications contact” I later learned was an image consultant and lobiest who was put on full-time retainer for more than a week to talk to the limp-wristed pap-in-suits that worked in several key Ottawa offices. Every time one of these suites would call me it was plain and obvious that they had been talking to the image consultant. They vigourously tried to get me to lay down, to change the subject, to alter the focus, to do whatever they could to make it so that they could say, “Mr. Minsiter, this is a safe statement for you…”.

One particularly annoying twit in Alan Rock’s office made several calls to, as Pamela Wallin so wonderfully states it, ‘PR me’ into agreeing to a statement that was essentially ‘sure they’ve taken what’s mine but I guess they have the right’. He only backed off when I threatened to write a letter labled “personal & confidential” to Minsiter Rock telling him that the statement coming from his staff, and perported to be something with which I could agree, was completely and entirely false in every important respect and “moreover, your staffer has made no serious attempt to apprise himself of the facts of this matter even though I’ve sent him more than 30 pages of detailed documentation heavily footnoted with independent sources and statements…”

Only when each and every Bell client is willing to fight at least that hard for their rights will the federal govt even *consider* that any financial troubles Bell might have will have to be sorted out by Bell and its shareholders, and that to continually prop them up with procurement, favourable tax legislation, subsidy, and a veave of safety nets more complex than the world wide web, will we ever be able to move beyond the current technological stagnation in which we’re currently mired.

In case anyone’s doubts that we’re mired in tech doldrums, consider this: at least half of Bells efforts when designing new technological solutions is dedicated to making it impossible for competitors to use these services in a resaleable mode (text messaging is a good example). What they don’t realize is that by trying to own the world the consign 99% of it to true entrepreneurs.

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