We cut the cable…

Sort of.

I got a call on Thursday while I was working from home from Bell doing their typical, “How do you like the service, is there anything we can do better.”

I like Bell – I’ve never had a real problem with them and given I know a bit about the technology they’re using to run the phone network, and also know the upgrades they have made our area.

My only complaint is that the service can be pretty expensive.  Of course, when they call, there’s nothing they can do because I typically have the lowest price packages, everything is bundled, etc…  Right?

Well… they finally had an offer for a long existing customer.  Our services that we had were:

  • Home Phone Choice
  • 1,000 minutes North American long distance for $15/mo + $6.95 network access fee (whatever that is!)
  • Bell Fibe Internet 25/10
  • Our condo fees include Rogers cable, something like up to 3 or 4 terminals

With what we had, you either pay $30 more unlimited internet… or pay $30 more for unlimited internet and Bell TV!

The offer became

  • Change our long distance plan to unlimited for $10/mo – Saving $11.95 per month
  • Change our internet to an unlimited plan for $10/mo ($30 – $20 package discount)
  • We got a further discount for packaging three items.  I have mobile phone as well, however that doesn’t count towards the bundle, I think… That is odd if it doesn’t.
  • Add TV for an additional $30

So you’re thinking – Iain, you’re a fool, you could have stuck with Rogers for free.  Yes, but then I wouldn’t have unlimited internet, and I wasn’t willing to pay for unlimited internet unless I got something else, honestly. $30 is a complete rip off for unlimited internet, and I do believe the plans need to be better.  Still, this was too good to pass up.

What about the TV service?

This is exactly why I didn’t want to pass up this deal.

In short, Rogers is shit:

  • The amount the signal is compressed on Rogers,
  • The colour black looks like blotchy grey and even whites are blocky depending on the channel,
  • The channel layout is horrible,
  • The set top box from Cisco is way too slow,
  • The technology is dated

Prior to moving to the condo, Scott and I had Bell ExpressVu.  The satellite we had was GORGEOUS.  The signal was so clear and that was prior to high definition television.  Cousins of mine also have Bell TV satellite service and it’s still gorgeous.

Interestingly, I actually have never seen Bell Fibe TV truly in action.  I had seen AT&T U-Verse in action and was pretty impressed by that.

Needless to say, I’m gobsmacked at

  • How clear the signal is.  There’s very little compression.
  • How fast the channels change.  It’s WAY faster than the old Cisco “Nextbox” from Rogers.
  • And the fact that it’s essentially streaming over the internet through our ADSL modem.  The set top box plugs into our modem via Ethernet!  That is cool!  It could actually connect over coaxial if we wanted, but we decided not to.
  • The wireless second receiver ($7/mo additional or $199) is a nice touch.  I can put that receiver in the bedroom (where it resides) or in the man cave.

The only draw back we have is that we had to move all of our networking equipment into the living room:

  • The ADSL modem,
  • Apple Airport,
  • The hard drive we use to back up our laptops, connected to the Airport,
  • A new 5Ghz Wifi network extender for the wireless STB in the bedroom

The outcome is that our wifi signal is low in the bedroom.  So it’s to be determined if it’s going to be a big issue or not.  I could re-wire the condo so that the STB is in the man cave, and the wireless terminal is on the main TV – which works beautifully too, that wireless terminal is responsive.

But, if I choose not to use the wireless terminal in the future and just use Rogers in the bedroom – after all we still have Rogers “for free” (really, it makes up $35 of our condo fees) – then I’d like that option.

So, first 5 hours with Bell TV – I’m hooked.  I really like the service, and I think people should consider it as an option, more so than Rogers, once it’s available province-wide.

Now that said, I am surprised that cable has not followed the lead of what Bell and AT&T have done.  There’s no reason why they could not go with an IP-based TV solution over cable with the same picture quality.  And all the features that Rogers has, Bell could have as well.


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