Nov 27, 2003
Comments Off on pot….kettle….black


In yesterday's National Post Mark Evans had a column that reinforced for me just how ridiculous the ILECs and Cablecos are.

Basically Rogers Cable (I provide no links for some folks!), Canada's largest Cableco, was complaining about the anti-competitive behaviour that Bell Canada, the largest ILEC, was engaging in. Forget the exceptionally boring regulatory details. I was floored by the irony.

A little backstory. In January of 1996 I met the guys that I went to work for a year later at what was then Internet Direct (and what is now Look Communications). They had this website that they were kind of supporting and running called Tucows which they were more than happy to let me play with and, well, here I am today. Eight years later.

Now for the irony. We met because we both served on a committee of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP). CAIP had successfully lobbied the CRTC for third-party access to the cable plant as Rogers was the first cable company in the world to offer Internet access over their cable plant. We had won! They were now forced by the government to provide us with access! This was a great victory, as in Canada the CRTC makes all of these decisions (think FCC) and they are stocked mostly with ex-Bell/Rogers employees or future Bell/Rogers employees. We would now show them who could really sell access. We had kicked their asses in dialup and now broadband was ours also!

At each meeting the Cable folks would trot out two streams of objections. Business and technical. They would bury us in bullshit (the new Cisco router that will support this will be out in….). We negotiated. We complained. We screamed. Then we finally got it. They had absolutely no intention of ever providing us access. Ever. EVER. AFAIK no one has it today. In Canada broadband is essentially a Telco/Cableco duopoly and the consumer is the loser. As a user I can assure you it sucks.

Me: I am not getting my invoices.

Them: But we are sending them.

Me: To what email account?

Them: To your sympatico account of course.

Me: Oh I see. Well I don't use it. May I give you my email address?

Them: No.

Me: Ummm… What if you want to send me something?

Them: You can use your Sympatico account and pick it up.

Me: Are you sure you don't want my email address?

Them: No.

Me: Ok then.

Now the decline of the telco is well-documented (and best so by Martin Geddes here and make sure you read this. wild) and inexorable. They now only have two overlapping skills, legal and regulatory. It is fun to watch them bash each other over the same old bullshit. In fact the Ken Englehart mentioned in the article is the same guy who danced around us for years in our vain attempts at third-party access. Nice guy. Much smarter than we were. He knew what game he was playing and we didn't.

The good news is we all went off and built successful IP-based businesses. I would link to them, but as I start to play them back in my head there are simply so many. Rogers, and all of the incumbants may be better at the regulatory and legal, but they can't come close to us in actually running an Internet business.

Comments are closed.


I am elliot noss.

for more on me see the google results.

for picture see google or flickr.

to follow me on twitter.

some of my old blog posts here.

my icannwiki profile is here.