Sunday, March 07, 2010

Misleading Globe and Mail article about Canadian Broadband competitiveness

Update: Great article in the Ottawa Citizen about Canadian broadband that pretty much trumps this blog post.

An article in the Globe and Mail this weekend talks about how Canadian broadband is actually competitive. This is in response to a report commissioned by the FCC from the Berkman Group on how poor Canada (and US) broadband is compared to the rest of the developed world. This article is complete garbage. I'll go over some of the most glaring errors:

1. No sources, anywhere for their completely made up "facts".
Correction: They list Akamai as a source for download speeds -- thanks Brian Jones

2. It talks about penetration rates being wrong because there are more members per house hold than in Europe, so more people use a line. Then later point out that North Americans are heavier users of broadband than in Europe. Those balance out nicely in my opinion.

3. "Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of “network overhead,” and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic." Anyone who has used Internet in Canada knows that this is complete bullshit. My sources are sadly not that representative, but a quick trip to will show you that advertised speeds are most definetly not what you get.

4. "So it is that in Canada, Rogers, Shaw and Videotron all offer 50- or 100-Mbps services, while Novus (using its own fibre) offers 200 Mbps in Vancouver. Bell Aliant has rolled out an ambitious fibre deployment in parts of its territory. Bell Canada has offered fibre-to-the-node technology since 2005..." I'm not arguing with this fact, in that those speeds are possible for a select few, who are willing to pay over $100/month for their Internet. However, the usage limits imposed on these connections are ridiculous. How is the Internet supposed to advance in this country when you are limited to 60GB downloads per month? I can easily break 100GB on my 6Mb connection without even trying. Oh, I know, buy consuming your video (TV/ Movies) from the other services that Rogers, Bell and others are providing. Of course, what was I thinking.

5. "Where the Canadian picture looks less favourable, however, is in the mixed signals that the CRTC is still sending on prolonging and extending regulatory policies that may, at best, have made sense in the days when we could not see beyond the old copper-wire telephone network." And here we have the true purpose of this article. If this quote doesn't scream "This article is payed for by the large telco and cablecos" I don't know what does.

It's a shame that the Globe and Mail, a newspaper my household subscribes to, and one that usually has good, well balanced articles, would print what is obviously an advertisement from the companies that have the most to loose from real change and innovation in this country.


Mozai said...

Often, journalists are rushed for a deadline (or just lazy) and they will only use one source for their research. Sometimes that source is a press release they've been handed.

When you write your reply to the paper, take care that you don't commit the same mistakes you accuse them of. Show them how journalism is supposed to be done, by citing sources, exploring more than one side of a judgement, and presenting objective facts.

Brian Jones said...

They quoted Akamai as one source.

Wasn't the article point out that speeds advertised were not the speeds you actually get?

But as for pricing, it is high in Canada and the article did not really make any argument about cost. And the 60GB download limit is very silly.

Paul T. said...

Mozai -- I will get more facts in order and update this article and write to the editor.

Brian Jones -- thanks for the correction. Yes, that was one of their points. However, they then get into averages. Our penetration is much lower then France, but our averages are slightly higher.

Paul T. said...

An article in the Ottawa Citizen pretty much trumps this blog post