: 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
2006-03-31, 11:07 AM
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..
2006-04-24, 02:20 PM
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.
2006-04-24, 03:58 PM
wow, thats a bummer...
I just checked my Rogers Account details, and I have the following listed on my Account:
-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
2006-04-24, 10:15 PM
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!!" :rolleyes:
2006-04-24, 11:03 PM
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.
2006-04-28, 04:11 PM
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.
2006-05-02, 12:49 AM
i live in langley BC..it 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 here..is there any way i can find out when this service is available in my city??
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 auditmypc.com (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)
Ferg, thanks for the input. I always like detailed and positive notes!
2006-05-28, 12:13 AM
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.
2006-09-12, 04:44 PM
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.
2006-09-18, 11:39 PM
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.
2006-10-14, 12:03 PM
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
2006-12-05, 11:40 AM
Does anyone have Sympatico Unplugged? I received an email promoting this new service and am kind of interested. Any thoughts?
2006-12-06, 08:46 AM
I have been testing it for the past few months. Not impressed. Besides being a fairly large unit that needs to have its own power source, I have found the signal strength in my area to be weak and undependable. Definitely not a replacement for your regular service, may be a good (but expensive) back up service.
2006-12-07, 01:16 AM
Wireless internet was originally intended to be a rural service to replace dial up, not as a replacement for wired DSL. Best to treat it that way, better than dial up and not as good as DSL. It's about time that Bell fulfilled their commitment to provide rural high speed internet with Sympatico Unplugged and stop screwing urban customers that have a better alternative at a lower price.
2007-03-06, 09:26 PM
I agree with IWM HDTV, this service is not intended to compete with urban terrestrial services, which for obvious reasons will always be more reliable, and will likely remain faster and cheaper for the foreseeable future.
I must admit my frustration with Inukshuk as their mandate with Industry Canada was to deliver "last mile" service to underserviced parts of Canada and their initial rollout was to the broadband-deprived e-deserts of Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, etc. I guarantee if you provided WIMAX to professionals/residents in Muskoka, they would rave about the service and the price. Heck, charge 50% more and I'd be in line for one.
Therein lies the frustration; they are rolling out a technology that can blanket large unserviced areas of moderate population density (numerous southern ontario regions spring to mind) and market to consumers that would jump at the service, but instead they blanket urban areas already covered by a multitude of broadband networks and market it as a gimmicky gadgety Business Commuter service.
Unless you are lucky enough to live in a "politically popular underserviced area" like Iqaluit, Whitehorse or Charlottetown, I'm not placing bets on seeing this service any time soon. I'm currently forking over a hefty $108 monthly for a very latent and highly bandwidth restricted Xplornet satellite service, I live in a city of +30,000 and most have no broadband option. I would walk across a bed of broken glass and dirty crack needles to get a 3 meg connection without latency.:D
Finally, why all the secrecy about the rollout plans for this and other broadband services. It sure would be nice if Rogers/Bell would say region X is scheduled for spring 2008, give us cavemen in the woods something to look forward to.
I purchased the Bell 3MB service and tested it briefly today in Barrie and it worked great (tested at +2.6mbps d/l midday), though not quite as fast as the 10 meg fiber connection already in the building. Unfortunately, I was hoping it would work at some of our remote locations without service in the outskirts of Barrie and so far no luck. As for my house on Lake Simcoe near Orillia, no workie. Explorenet is destined to be my very expensive and very latent housemate.
2007-03-24, 10:34 AM
I do agree that this product should be deployed in underserviced regions of Canada. Why would these Telcos roll out a product in regions where they already have High speed customers? Why put it on metropolitan and surrounding areas that already have a multitude of highspeed options?
Part of the answer lies with Industry Canada and the CRTC. In order for Rogers and Bell to keep the 2.5Ghz frequency (practically given to them with the expectaions that they would use it for a national WiMax network) was to blanket 2/3 of the Canadian population by 2007. And where do the majority of Canadians live? Metropolitan and surrounding areas..... So they basically had little choice if they wanted to keep the frequency.
The other part lies with the Telcos themselves. We have to remember that this is a last mile service. To reach the underserved communites the Backhual still needs to be installed from scratch or significanlty upgraded. Even though Rogers and Bell probablly have Cell towers in these areas, the amount of bandwidth needed for voice is next to nothing compared to the amount needed for data. These upgrades will take time.
Now for the service itself. In all the areas I have tested Portable Internet it has worked very well. I have consistently acheived speeds of 1.5Mbps, which is what the Rogers page advertises. There is some latancy when accessing a page, but with all the extra overhead used to transmit the data over the air this is expected. The signal can be a little flaky at times. It needs to be in just the right spot. With the signal being at 2.5Ghz it is succeptable to interference and it is not that great at penetrating through buildings or trees, etc. A lower frequency would have been a better choice, but you work with what you are given.
All in all it is not so bad, it just needs to be deployed in the regions that actually need it.
2007-04-02, 12:02 PM
I would walk across a bed of broken glass and dirty crack needles to get a 3 meg connection without latency.
The service launched in my area today, and I purchased it this morning. 3-5* (!!!!) business days for delivery... differs from the 2-3*(!!!!!!!!!!) days, as stated in the legally binding agreement literature. I read it and I know I'm screwed from the get-go.
I live north of Peterborough in a black hole of 24kbps dial-up connectivity. Bell DSL is available 1km away from the center of my house in every direction and to an even more sparse extent, the same can be said for Cogeco's offerings. A review wasn't required to determine whether this service is worth the price of admission; it's immediately worth it for me and though I don't appreciate the financial reaming I must incur to receive said service, I must admit that I would pay more than what Bell has decided to charge for this apparent privelege.
Like Mountie, it really bothers me that this service has been available for so long in metropolitan centers yet has remained unavailable for the customers who are most debilitated by the lack of this essential service (broadband internet access). I understand companies must (:rolleyes: ) focus on where they can potentially make the greatest profit but I can see the damn tower they decided to use from my back porch. The service was announced back in January for April... so they came through there, in a crappy sort of way. What's the hold-up? I know 50 people who will immediately purchase at least the minor package. Also of note, Bell installation crews only started wandering into the tower parking lot within the past week So... what? Am I beta testing NEW EQUIPMENT for 60$/week?
I'm confident that I'll enjoy the massive upgrade from dial-up in terms of sheer download speed. With the thin population, my latency is what I'm most interested in, what, with my stack of games and all (noting that gaming is advertised as one of the benefits of Bell Unplugged). It'll be interesting to see how smooth the install and testing goes.
More information to come, that's for sure. Glad I found this site.