Monday, April 20, 2009

Not even news

For years the telco industries in North America have argued that distance prevents them from rolling out high-speed fiber in any substantial way because of the lower population density of Canada and the Unites States. This was always kind of ridiculous, because nobody's talking about gigabit fiber in Tuktoyuktuk. The areas where most people on this continent live are actually rather dense indeed, getting denser, and there's no reason why the east coast of the US and the Windsor-Quebec corridor should be restricted to the low bandwidth it is.

So why? Because countries like France and Japan won't swallow telco bullshit, while our governments will, and happily:
cable operators, he said, are concerned that not only will prices fall, but that the super-fast service will encourage customers to watch video on the Web and drop their cable service.

The industry is worried that by offering 100 Mbps, they are opening Pandora’s box, he said. Everyone will be able to get video on the Internet, and then competition will bring the price for the broadband down from $80 to $60 to $40.
So because the modern equivalent of the telegraph companies don't want to risk their core business by actually providing new, innovative services[1], and because the governments of North America have no interest in forcing their hands[2], we're stuck sucking through a stir-stick while other countries get to drink from the fire-hose.

[1] This would be actual innovation, not the fictitious kind that led to sub-prime mortgages.

[2] Is the Canadian government worried about picking a fight with telcos that are heavily invested in companies like CTVGlobemedia and Sun Media? Gee, who would think something so paranoid?


Catelli said...

a) Don't confuse USA with Canada. I deal with both markets and the regulatory differences make for vastly different markets. And yeah, there is some truth to population density and fiber install costs.

B) Bell was offering Fiber to the home in Toronto and Montreal (I just learned this) called Sympatico Optimax. It was a trial service that ended June 30th 2007. I wonder what the result of that trial was?

(see here: and here

john said...

"there is some truth..."

I didn't say there was zero truth, but then other countries (like France) have faster broadband with lower avg. density than the Windsor-QC corridor, so I'm distinctly unconvinced. And I'm sure you're right that regulatory differences are real, but the basic structure of allowing non-competing duopoly btwn phone and cable, the corporate destruction of net neutrality, and the near-smothering of DSL services in both countries makes it easy to conflate.

Catelli said...

Its not so much inter-city, as Intra-city. Engineers assure me that there's gobs of bandwidth available between cities on the "backbone" if you will. (That's already fiber with high speed switches.) Its that last mile to the home that's the problem.

Most of our communities are such low density that the cost per foot for each dwelling is higher than more built up areas. (Which is why Bell was doing a test run in Montreal and Toronto).

Anyway, you inspired a post of my own, if you're interested.

We do have the same conclusion, its of benefit to the Telcos to maintain the status quo rather than invest in upgrades. Isn't it always that way though? Being visionary and forward thinking is such a pain in the ass.