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Discussion Starter #1
I put this question forward but it was buried in another thread.

Access Communications does have some long standing issues and limitations. Current (and former) customers will gather at the water cooler and discuss their service issues and horror stories.

But it occured to me that with only one monopoly cable company to choose, as customers our options are limited.

So I ask - given the service and inherent problems that can't seem to ever be solved - what would you say is a fair price for the service that you get?
 

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For what service? Basic? Everything? Having to pay 16 bucks for a receiver for every HDTV in the house is a complete non-starter for me.

By the way, most or all jurisdictions or regions in Canada and the US are limited to one "cable company". Regina also has SaskTel, Bell TV (Satellite) and Shaw Direct for TV alternatives.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll go first, since I raised the question.

The high speed internet account... speed used to be good but in recent years has gone downhill. And in recent months, the degradation has become very severe during peak hours.

The rep has said our neighborhood is "super saturated" and that the hubs reach 100% capacity starting around 4 PM and are in overload until about 1 AM. During those peak times, download speeds drop noticeably, and a page view attempts fail. Upload is at less than 10% of advertised speed.

Outside the peak hours, speed ranges from about 50-90% of advertised levels.

Email is mostly reliable, but does go through so terrible periods.

TV service is spotty, with random outages and dropouts. The cable boxes are old with very limited storage. Previously we could move saved programs through firewire, but that was disabled when they started using American 5c software settings and didn't get the provider to fix it.

So with the internet and TV constraints, I'd say it's probably worth $30 for internet and $60 for TV. At $90/month, I could probably accept the many quality deficiencies and look the other way on the poor service. Actual cost is more than double that however.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
For what service? Basic? Everything? Having to pay 16 bucks for a receiver for every HDTV in the house is a complete non-starter for me.

By the way, most or all jurisdictions or regions in Canada and the US are limited to one "cable company". Regina also has SaskTel, Bell TV (Satellite) and Shaw Direct for TV alternatives.
By "cable company" I truly mean "cable company". Not DSL or satellite. That's because so far, there's no better pipe to a household than coax cable. SaskTel and Access both seem to be severely behind the curve on fiber. That's years overdue, and there doesn't seem to be any urgency from either party to catch us up to circa-2001 level infrastructure that exists in the USA and other first world nations.

I do wish the monopoly situation could be challenged. Just like how the phone monopoly is starting to get broken up, multiple vendors should be allowed access to the cable infrastructure. Of course as the incumbent, they would squeal like pigs if anyone ever suggested that, but they forget that infrastructure that was funded 100% by citizens and customers.

Once the infrastructure is open to competition, it creates opportunities that would undoubtably throw the current status quo (high price/low quality) model into survival mode.

Then for example, customers could choose to get Access Communications low-end service at a lower price from "Joe's Junior Cheap Cable Co", or they could choose to pay high prices similar to the current levels, but get a truly high end white glove service and predictable uptime guarantees from say 'XYZ Alternative Cable Company'. And Access could then increase their quality and lower their price to try and carve out some space in the middle ground.

It would be just like with the phone system long distance situation. Customers can now choose an alternative low-service model and pay 2 cents/minute, or they can get better service but pay 5-10 cents/minute. It's all about choice, and getting what you pay for.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For what service? Basic? Everything? Having to pay 16 bucks for a receiver for every HDTV in the house is a complete non-starter for me.

By the way, most or all jurisdictions or regions in Canada and the US are limited to one "cable company". Regina also has SaskTel, Bell TV (Satellite) and Shaw Direct for TV alternatives.
I do agree $16/month per receiver is shameful gouging. It made some sense 10 years ago, but the receivers now cost 75% less and have long since been paid for.

If there was any fairness, those gouging $16/month fees would cease after say 18-24 months when the equipment is fully paid for. That would serve as an incentive for customers to stay continuous and current, plus it would be a reward and retention strategy for long term loyal customers who have the larger more expensive service packages.

I've posed this suggestion to them numerous times, but it's fallen on deaf ears.
 

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I'm not sure I would call SaskTel years behind on fibre deployment. Fiber to the node was completed couple years ago and there have been several fiber to the home trials in the past several years.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm of course speaking about fiber to the home. It's curious you say there have been fiber to the home trials. Is that the case?

Every time SaskTel calls to sell me Max TV, I mention that I'll be interested when they switch from copper to fiber. The reps always say they will relay my feedback and someone will contact me. Of the dozens of times they said this, 2 times someone did contact me and I was told those trials keep getting delayed, but the day they are available I'm on 'the list' to be contacted.

Where are these trials and what's the (realistic) date for deployment in major centers like Regina?
 

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there were trials in Regina 4 years ago, and another round in regina/saskatoon coming up again (this year I think? nothing definite)

commercial deployment is a giant who knows at this point

no one wants their yard ripped up to trench in new fiber, directional boring works great, but is cost prohibitive since consumer won't consider paying it

this last bit is speculation on my part, but I would suspect the issue with roll out is figuring out easements, and who's paying for the last couple hundred yards

it won't be a full blown roll out like copper, as there's no way you're going to see fiber plowed/bored into a non-sasktel customers yard (which then makes it harder to get them to switch, if they then have to shell out to have fiber installed)


again, all speculation, but it's not really a technical issue as much as a how the hell do we get fiber into each house cost effectively

there's fiber to all teh cabinets, so it's just the last 900m or less that needs to be done
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well I put in several conduits to make this a non-issue. But I asked 'How about my neighbor who doesn't have conduits' and was told by their tech that there's a slick and easy way to just push it slightly below the surface. He said there's a company they use that does it easy and works around sprinklers and such without problems.

As for who's paying for it, the answer is you, already. SaskTel has received something like a half billion (or possibly more?) to do this. Hey if they can roll out FTTH in Atlantic cities, surely they can do it in booming Saskatchewan. But if for some valid reason they can't, they should at least stop the self promotion about being such a leading edge technology company if they are that far behind other jurisdictions.
 

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By "cable company" I truly mean "cable company". Not DSL or satellite. That's because so far, there's no better pipe to a household than coax cable.
Sorry to come in late on this, but isn't fibre to the house a better pipe than coax cable?

In terms of some of your other issues, in some parts of Canada other companies do have access to at least some of the system. I can get internet from Teksavvy that is delivered over Rogers Cable's physical infrastructure (I can also DSL internet from Teksavvy over Bell Canada's wires). The problem is that the CRTC is letting Bell (and perhaps Rogers) implement Usage Based Billing so that there will be bandwidth caps that are low and likely there will be no way for competitors like Teksavvy to differentiate themselves from the incumbents. And the incumbents are going to fight like hell to maintaint these low caps as they risk losing business to Over The Top video services like Netflix that could decimate their business models.

And with the advent of Over The Top video you can, at least theoretically, get video delivered from other providers, just as you can get phone service from Vonage over the internet. But if you can't get bandwidth in primetime and you have to pay overage fees then this isn't practical.

And there are alternatives to needing a STB at every TV to get HDTV but the CRTC doesn't have the gonads to force cable companies to not encrypt some of their stations. I can't understand why the HD versions of basic cable channels are encrypted.

And one last point - no offense but Sask is a pretty small province in terms of population with only two cities, neither of which is very large. If you are an entrepreneur looking for a business opportunity then trying to compete with the local telecoms carriers in Regina or 'Toon aren't going to be at the top of your list. I remember visiting relatives in Regina as a kid in the mid 70s and being shocked that they only got two TV stations in town, I don't even think cable had come to town yet. I came from southern Ontario where we could get dozens with an antenna.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry to come in late on this, but isn't fibre to the house a better pipe than coax cable?
Yes I believe FTTH is far better than coax. This issue here is that we don't have FTTH yet, so coax is the best choice if you want bandwidth or have multiple TV's. But our coax provider has a raft of other issues that make that a hard choice for the consumer to live with.

And one last point - no offense but Sask is a pretty small province in terms of population with only two cities, neither of which is very large. If you are an entrepreneur looking for a business opportunity then trying to compete with the local telecoms carriers in Regina or 'Toon aren't going to be at the top of your list.
Well people in some of the other cities might take issue but I get your point. The problem is, at one time there was so much promise. Sask was the first province to have high speed consumer internet, and several other technological 'firsts'. It's sad to see things change so much and go from having the lead to being this far behind.

It's even more sad when you realize the monopoly telecom environment here means it's an incredibly profitable market and the government owned telecom relationship means they dumped a half billion dollars (yes BILLION) of public funds into deploying FTTH several years ago. Even with this rich funding, they've missed their own deadlines year after year after year.

Your example of having competion share the citizen funded infrastructure is a good one, and it's a concept I've been pushing for years.

But there's a deeply embedded myth here that the infrastructure is the "property" of this company or that company, and it's a myth the incumbents like to cultivate.

So most of the public doesn't realize it's the citizens are who paid the price to build that infrastructure over the decades and generally they believe it *does* belong to these companies. And that's how they get to prolong their monopoly positions.

I would love to see a landscape where the distribution is commonly owned and shared, and where providers can compete on a level playing field.

Customers could choose to continue paying Cable Company A's high prices and poor service. But some would choose to pick company B, that offers low prices for similar low grade service. And other customers would choose company C, that charges high prices just like company A, but gives excellent service for the money being spent.

All 3 companies would be dependent on the common infrastructure working, so there would be shared accountability and peer review. As it stands now, when Company A's infrastructure is down or being shoddily run, it has no consequences for Company A. They can simply let it slide and there's nothing anyone can say or do about it.

But when Company B and Company C are also being impacted, they could step up to point out and fix the flaws that Company A either doesn't know about or won't admit to.

It would just be a far better situation. Well, except for Company A, who would no longer be able to coast and still get rich. But that would be short-term as Company A would have to evolve and would have to become better just to survive.
 

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So most of the public doesn't realize it's the citizens are who paid the price to build that infrastructure over the decades and generally they believe it *does* belong to these companies. And that's how they get to prolong their monopoly positions.
infrastructure was not built with tax funds, not in the last several decades at least

it's not a myth

Access's infrastructure was built by SaskTel originally tho
 

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Discussion Starter #13
infrastructure was not built with tax funds, not in the last several decades at least

it's not a myth

Access's infrastructure was built by SaskTel originally tho
Actually no, read up on NGAI (new generation advanced infrastructure)

SaskTel was given $310 million of public funds in 2006 for this, then a further injection of $238 a few years later. The stated goal of this 3 year plan (ha!) was fiber to the home.

As for Access, their infrastructure was funded by members of the cooperative, their customers.

But your response does prove what I'm saying. The general public has been bamboozled into thinking that some company or "private" industry generously funded this architecture or in some way gave something to get it and therefore they must "own" it and we should let them do whatever they like with it including gouge us. Not so, every bit of it came from customer revenues.

Think of it like a highway. What if the highway your taxes built was only allowed to be driven on by one courier company, or by one class of citizen?
 
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