Bell introduces Sympatico High Speed Unplugged - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-03-31, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Bell introduces Sympatico High Speed Unplugged

edited from press release today

Bell Canada today announced the availability of Sympatico High Speed Unplugged, a nation-wide wireless broadband service .

Available in both urban and rural areas, the service will offer wireless internet access with speeds of up to 3 mbps to more than two-thirds of Canadians in less than three years.

Sympatico High Speed Unplugged will be launched in the following regions: - Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer - British Columbia: Vancouver and Victoria - Newfoundland: St. Johns - New Brunswick: Fredericton - Nova Scotia: Halifax - Ontario: Barrie, Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto and Windsor - PEI: Charlottetown - Quebec: Hull, Montreal, Quebec City - Yukon: Whitehorse

The introductory offer for the new service includes two distinct speeds and pricing options of 512 kbps for $45 per month and 3 mbps for $60 per month.

In addition the service requires a portable modem, available for $99 with a 24 month contract.
This seems pretty cool, however, note that their are bandwidth caps
  • 3 Mbps – 60 GB threshold
  • 512 Kbps – 4 GB threshold
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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-03-31, 11:07 AM
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Rogers released Portable internet yesterday, which is essentially the same thing... inukshuk based wireless broadband solution.. although from what i can tell, rogers has only one porable tier, while bel has 2, rogers has a 12 month contract, bell has a 24 mo contract..
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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-04-24, 02:20 PM
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Lightbulb My experience with this service so far

I'm currently testing this service in my home for Bell. I got set up on Saturday April 22. I am keeping a detailed log of any connection or other issues. Based on my (albeit limited) experience so far, I wouldn't recommend this service as primary internet access for the average home user, especially Bell's rendition of it, for the following reasons:

- Cost $60/month and the expectation of signing up for a 2-year contract for this service is unreasonable. Bell also insists on automatic credit card withdrawals as the only method of payment. I have grave issues with this, as Bell has demonstrated in the past that they're not the most competent when it comes to handling billing issues! I pay $45/mth for Rogers highspeed extreme and get much faster speeds (5 mbps as opposed to 3), a larger bandwidth usage cap, and greater reliability. Also, according to their website, Bell plans on charging users extra to connect outside of your "primary usage area" (your home/main address), thus (for me) negating the advantage of portability. Bell also plans on charging users extra for exceeding their bandwidth and other usage limits (which according to their TOS are subject to change without notice). From what I have seen, Rogers' offering, while it has a slower connection speed, is more reasonable in price, and they don't plan on charging users to move their modem around.

- Reliability or lack thereof I'm in Etobicoke, west-end Toronto, in a highrise apartment building with a clear line of sight to downtown. My modem always shows I have a steady full-strength signal, but I'm getting kicked off the Internet for a few seconds at a time, on average once every 5 minutes or less. With this lack of reliability, this service would be useless for streaming media applications, large downloads or online gaming. Web pages are frequently slow (30 sec to 3 minutes) to load or refresh, and I often get "you are not connected to the Internet" errors or 404s. Online chatting using MSN Messenger is nearly impossible as well. Last night MSN was kicking me off due to network interruptions two or three times every 5 minutes; to chat online I had to switch back to my Rogers cable connection. Also bear in mind the stability of connection is affected by weather and geography (buildings in the area etc.).

- Portability? The modem they currently supply for this service does not allow for a battery backup, so your "portability" is limited to areas that have a power outlet handy. So you can't go to your local park, for instance, to connect to your broadband connection using this modem. There are also the extra fees Bell plans on charging for using your modem outside of your home or primary place of usage. Bell has not announced details of the amount of these charges as yet. I'm wondering if they may change their minds on this before they release to the general public.

My recommendation for this service so far would be that it would make a fine backup service, or a good service for someone who absolutely requires portability and isn't willing to look for wifi hotspots, and who doesn't need absolute reliability of connection. So far I have only tested it for home use on both Mac and Windows PCs, but I am an IT professional who often works out of my home via VPN, and I plan on testing its stability for VPN/business use as well. I will also be bringing the modem to my office sometime this week to test the connectivity outside of my home. If anyone is interested I will keep you posted on the results of my testing.

"There's one born every minute, and you were born quite some time ago!"
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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-04-24, 03:58 PM
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wow, thats a bummer...

I just checked my Rogers Account details, and I have the following listed on my Account:

-Virtual Outlet
-Rogers Internet Portable
-National Coverage (I guess this means i can use it in vancouver just the same as if I was using it in Cumberland)
-Portable Modem Purchase
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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-04-24, 10:15 PM
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That's why I'm glad I'm not paying a dime for this service! I've got it on trial for a year.

Frankly I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that both Bell and Rogers are suckering customers into signing 1-year plus contracts for a new and basically unproven (in the field) technology. Another reason I'd never sign up to pay for this right away. I'd want to wait at least a few months until user reviews come back before adopting this as my primary internet service. It might be different if the ISPs didn't arrogantly force you to lock yourself into a contract, and you could try it out on a month to month basis. I'm sure that some customers will have a better experience than others, depending on their location and the network coverage in their area. Basically if you're in a "dead zone" for cell coverage, don't waste your money on this technology!

Yes I believe the service is offered in major urban centres across Canada, as it uses the cellular antennas from both Bell and Rogers. I know Bell's sympatico unplugged site has coverage maps posted, I'd hope Rogers has them posted as well.

Based on my experience so far (I'm getting kicked off the net frequently again tonight and can't access Hotmail at all, while my daughter sitting next to me hasn't been kicked off Rogers cable once) I can foresee a lot of disillusioned customers complaining to the ISPs in a few months' time. My apartment building roof is bristling with cell antennae by the way, and has signs all over the lobby proclaiming it's "Wired for Rogers!!"

"There's one born every minute, and you were born quite some time ago!"
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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-04-24, 11:03 PM
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hmm, i should try my Rogers Portible Internet modem in your location to see if I get the same symptoms as you, if i dont, then its an issue with bellus.
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-04-28, 04:11 PM
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I am also trying the service. For me it actually works better than Sympatico High Speed. I am actually getting slighlty better speed compared to Sympatico High Speed.

I find it drops less than the Speedstream 5200 Modem.

I am however very close to a communications tower. Maybe that helps?

I also find it works better on the floor then on a desk. The higher you go the weaker the signal, kind of strange. I also tried it in another part of the house on a different computer and had no problems with just 3 bars displayed.

Speed-2.8 megabits per second compared to 2.5 on Sympatico High Speed
On the other end upload speed is 324 KPS compared to around 640 KPS on Sympatico High Speed.
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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-05-02, 12:49 AM
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i live in langley says the service is in the greater vancouver area for both of these but i was told its not in my area yet, apparently its in my niegboring citys abbotsford and surrey but not there any way i can find out when this service is available in my city??
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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-05-12, 05:12 PM
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Sympatico unplugged

I have been a sympatico unplugged user since the 6th of April or so, and haven't had any real problems with the service.

I live on a rural property just south of Georgetown (west end of GTA) and have no other high speed options other than satellite (too expensive) and cable (too expensive to run cable up a driveway that is at least 400 m long). We are just at the edge of the service area, according to bells map, and i now have a full 5 bars/lights (maximum) of signal strength.

I once had some connectivity problems where i was unable to retrieve web pages, but that only lasted for a few minutes. Otherwise I have no trouble web browsing and downloading bit torrents and other large files (debian iso's and packages)

I had a little bit of trouble early on, but that had more to do with my wireless router conflicting with my cordless phone (both on the 2.4 Ghz frequency) as soon as i unplugged the phone and switched to a 5.8 Ghz model, no more problems.

So if you have a wireless router, be aware that your, or your neighbours (especially in an apartment/condo) phone may interfere with your connection.

I did find that i was unable to get any signal at first, i tried all of the various suggestions Bell had on their website and in the instruction manual. I finally found a signal about 5 feet off the floor, and realized that the aluminum insect screens in my windows blocked the signal. So i just placed the modem on top of the lower sash rather than on the window sill and it works perfectly. I will eventually replace the screen with fibreglass so that i can open that window without disturbing the modem.

I too have a free trial from bell (although they didn't tell me that when i subscribed). Not sure when I will have to start paying though. They do not have an email server yet, but it is expected for June 1. Also I just discovered that the 60 GB cap is not being enforced during the trial. At least according to the info on bell's website (this is stated only in the section available to those with the service and who have logged in)

My understanding from Bell, and i could be wrong, is that there will be no fee for mobility as long as you are in the same "service area". i.e. I could use it anywhere in the GTA without incurring additional costs. I don't think it is restricted to just your place of activation. At the very least, they can't tell if you have it set up at your house, or your neighbour's house 2 blocks away, since you will likely still be getting a signal from the same tower.

I have tested the speed of the connection using (I think) which has an Ontario based server, and i got the advertised 3 Mb/s.

I am quite satisfied with this option (especially since my only other alternatives are nearly twice the price or dial-up)
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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-05-12, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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Ferg, thanks for the input. I always like detailed and positive notes!
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post #11 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-05-28, 12:13 AM
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Bell wireless: an update

I have moved my desk to a more central location in my apartment (not near a window). Usually I only have 4 lights on the modem for reception, sometimes three.

I have found the service more reliable now than it was, fewer kickoffs and errors in MSN messenger for instance. Still, it's considerably slower than my Rogers extreme access... still not worth the extra $10 per month IMHO.

Earlier this week I used it to download a Linux distro to install on one of my computers here. 4 hours to download the first disk of the operating system (out of 5 disks). I redid the exact same download of disk 1 using rogers extreme - 18 mins. 4 lights out of 5 on my wireless modem during the 4 hour download - is this worth $60/month on a 2-year contract?! Again, another reason to steer clear of this service IMHO if you're more than just the average home user looking to connect to IM and check emails.

Anyway, I will keep posting on any new developments, or lack thereof.

PS - sorry Hugh that I can't truthfully post sunshine and Disney on this service. Perhaps you will take my advice/posts on this seriously nonetheless, since I do happen to do network admin etc for a living, as I have done for nearly 10 years now. Your mileage may vary of course.

"There's one born every minute, and you were born quite some time ago!"

Last edited by catti; 2006-05-28 at 12:20 AM.
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post #12 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-09-12, 04:44 PM
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It does not use the cellular antennas from Bell and Rogers. It is at 2.5GHz and Bell and Rogers cellular use 1.9GHz and 800MHz band. The antenna would be of the wrong properties and would not work well. It merely use the towers to hang the 2.5GHz antennas and equipment, so they don't have to put up their own towers.

I don't understand what you meant by "technology not proven in the field". Inukshuk has not only deployed it in various places, but have sold services in both Cumberland, ON, and Richmond BC, for over 2 years commercially. Not to mention that there are other carriers doing similarly on a larger scale in the US and Mexico etc, on the same NextNet product. How proven do you need it to be?

As for portability, you can use a battery pack and either an AC inverter to feed its AC adapter, or use a DC inverter to feed the DC jack directly. You can also use it in a car.

You cannot compare that to wired service, afterall this is wireless stuff. Its advantage is that you can carry it around, and yet not pay as much as cellular based data, and yet much faster. You can save lots of monthly fees if you need to use internet at more than one place frequently.
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post #13 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-09-18, 11:39 PM
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well my company is currently piloting this device from Bell in Calgary.

So far, in 4 communities it has only worked in 1 - sigh. I was sure hoping for another option for a Internet Service Provider.
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post #14 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-10-14, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by hugh View Post
This seems pretty cool, however, note that their are bandwidth caps
  • 3 Mbps – 60 GB threshold
  • 512 Kbps – 4 GB threshold
Yes, the bandwidth caps (will) exist, and they are worse than stated here.

I just called yesterday, and was told for the hi-speed plan (3 Mbps down/384 Kbps up) the cap is TEN GIGS per month!!

However, after 10 gigs you pay by the gig, with a maximum $$ amount of $30.

So.... if you do a lot of P2P and live in Toronto, expect to pay $90 ($60 base + $30 extension).

When I found this out, I said nay, and have resolved to continue to find a way around Roger's Throttling of P2P, which is driving me insane...

- The Original Giggle Girl
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post #15 of 71 (permalink) Old 2006-12-05, 11:40 AM
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Sympatico Unplugged service

Does anyone have Sympatico Unplugged? I received an email promoting this new service and am kind of interested. Any thoughts?
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