Depending on how you see it, Canada is either blessed or cursed with three major wireless carriers: Rogers, Telus and Bell. First up is Rogers, the entity in Central Canada which up and bought what had been the fourth wireless provider (Microcell, aka Fido). Rogers is generally horrific especially when it comes to billing issues and auto-renewals on contracts, but since my plan is grandfathered from the dog days (meaning no obligatory multi-year contract for one thing), I’m not exactly hurting unless I do something incredibly stupid like decide to sign up for a new plan. Telus? The old BC Tel + AltaTel conglomerate that uses zoo animals in its ads and that attempts to upsell at every customer service attempt. They’re at least active in the wilds of Northern Ontario and Qu├ębec so folks living in those rural regions won’t miss out on the customer service h*ll.

And then Bell as in the Canadian version of Ma Bell. I used to be a landline and broadband Internet client but ever since they told me it’s “impossible” to provide static IP services and then implemented traffic shaping on an already-oversold PPPoE-based DSL network, I’ve kicked them to the curb. I might have stayed as their business services are starting to get competitive, but they also dumped Frank and Gordon so that was that. There’s unfortunately no way I’ve found as of yet to stop their stream of junk mail, which has to meet the shredder because they personalize everything for “ease of use” (yes, as in ease of use for identity thieves).

Frank and Gordon - the Bell beavers

None of the Big 3 are particularly good because they’ve got a locked market as outside competition is not permitted into the Canadian market. People were cheering when Verizon was rumored to want to enter Canada (not me – I’ve had a Verizon phone and I know why the guy keeps saying “can you hear me now?” because you can’t). Why? Because it offered hope that perhaps services would increase for perhaps no usurious increase in fees. The Harper Conservatives have attempted a couple of times to bring in a fourth carrier but thus far Conservative initiatives have failed (remember Wind?) and the latest contender to receive Conservative support just happens to be run by a media mogul who’s declared open support for the succession of the province (Conservative governments are bad for the country – see the Champlain Bridge, tortilla prices, the recession resulting from Mulroney-era policies).

Anyway, we’re stuck for the time being with just the Big Three. But why bring up Bell specifically?

Before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, both Bell and Telus were in a combined bag of hurt because their respective wireless networks ran CDMA and 1xRTT (like Sprint and Verizon), whereas Rogers/Fido and pretty much the rest of the world did GSM and HSPA. I should qualify that because the rest of the world standardized on GSM and HSPA frequencies, but North America did the technology but on different frequencies, thereby requiring tri-, quad- and penta-band phones. The Vancouver Games were actually good for Canadian wireless generally because they forced Bell and Telus to combine resources and roll out a HSPA network to support all those world travelers using GSM/HPSA devices. If they hadn’t those roaming clients would have otherwise automatically made Rogers a whole lot wealthier. It’s good because if you use unlocked devices, you can move from one carrier to another by popping out the SIM, assuming of course you find a plan and contract duration that’s actually palatable.

The majors are all now on LTE though Bell and Telus continue to share that network. That makes it interesting because Bell touts their LTE as being the fastest most reliable wireless network available to Canadians. Remember that junk mail? That’s pretty much all it says apart from pleading with me to sign up. Bell also goes out of its way in its advertising to boast how it has the newest coolest devices available to its network, which allows plenty of things such as the latest social media platforms or streaming media. It’s all the right kind of buzz words that show that your tech is fast, current and hip.

So of course I spot this:

The Bell Network: the best network, the fastest network, the coolest devices

Yep. Those would be BlackBerry devices that Bell has as the latest coolest devices for the best and fastest wireless network in Canada. And not just any BlackBerry devices either: they are the BlackBerry Bold (circa 2011) and the BlackBerry Curve (circa 2009).

Sure makes me want to sign up.



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