Bringing Fibre to Toronto
I don't think it's much of a surprise to anyone that the quality of Internet Service Providers in Toronto isn't what it could be. At the moment, you're either forced to go with cable, or DSL, and it's clear that both Bell and Rogers have those markets locked up tight. And while its clear that these aren't the only options, they might as well be - most so-called "alternative" providers rely on the same lines used by the likes of Rogers and Bell, making them subject to the wonderful world of bandwidth throttling and deep packet inspection.
The CRTC has made it clear that it doesn't want to get involved in such issues. Meanwhile, hearings on net neutrality aren't even planned to begin until the summer; frankly, I'm not entirely sure what the CRTC even does nowadays.
It strikes me as just a little strange that ISPs like Rogers and Bell can continue to increase internet access fees, while further reducing the functionality of their services. Why should I be paying more, only to have my bandwidth capped, and my upload speeds remain at a paltry 1Mbps? To me, it's a clear sign that the way users access internet content continues to change dramatically, and the big Canadian ISPs simply lack the infrastructure to keep up.
As consumers watch the backbone of Canadian internet buckle under the strain of streaming media and high-definition content, it begs the question - why aren't we trying to keep up?
Fibre optic networks, the most viable option for bolstering our aging infrastructure, are virtually non-existent here in Toronto. While Bell claims to offer a fibre optic service of its own, dubbed Optimax, it's largely misleading; the fibre infrastructure in question does exist, but travels nowhere near one's house. Instead customers continue to use their regular DSL modems, but connect to a distant receiving point that routes data via fibre the rest of the way.
In short, nowhere close to a true fibre optic solution, and an inelegant implementation at that.
What Toronto needs is a true fibre optic network. In the US, Verizon's FiOS service is an excellent example of the sort of implementation that I hope will make its way here in the near future. Not only does it deliver a true fibre optic connection right to one's house, but it manages to do so at speeds that are nearly five-times faster than Rogers's best offerings. Oh, and for about the same price, too.
Some might argue that there isn't the need, nor desire for fibre-powered internet just yet - but considering the sorry state of our local ISPs, there could never be a better time for an infrastructure overhaul. Services like FiOS have proved that the fibre is not only popular, but huge improvement for the majority of US customers; I doubt consumers will complain all that much at the introduction of a considerably faster ISP alternative - with competitive price points to boot.
All we need now is someone to step up - and in the process, set a new standard for internet access, not just in Toronto, but Canada as well.
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