Thursday 16 February 2012

Alternate Information and Telecommunications (ICT) Service Providers

I expect many Algoma District residents would be surprised to learn that one site claims there are over 120 Internet Service Providers (ISP) doing business in Ontario. Another claims there are over 35 Mobile (cell) service providers in Canada.


On the terrestrial side, most residents are familiar with the major primary vendors that provide broadband (high speed) Internet using DSL, cable, Mobile, fixed wireless or satellite service.

However, there is another whole category of ISP called Alternate Broadband Service Providers (ABSP) or Third Party Internet Access (TPIA) that acquire network and last mile infrastructure from the major primary vendors and offer various ISP services. The terms and conditions of the relationship between the primary vendors and the third parties ISP are regulated by the CRTC. In addition, any ISP services funded or partially funded by public funds have a third party access clause in the agreement.

If there is DSL, cable or fixed wireless access available in your area, there is a good chance one of the third party vendors can provide service.

These are the primary vendors providing terrestrial (landline) service in all or parts of the Algoma District to varying degrees.

Bell – DSL

Eastlink - Cable

Ontera – Dedicated Cable

Shaw – Cable

I have confirmation that the following ABSP or TPIA have customers in the Algoma District. If anyone is dealing with another ABSP or TPIA let me known by using the comment box below so the list can be kept current. These vendors offer some attractive service options for the people fortunate enough to be living in the areas served by DSL or cable.






As of this writing the only vendors I am aware of offering fixed wireless service are Tbaytel and Vianet. Check their websites for coverage areas.


The situation with the Mobile vendors is a bit of a dog’s breakfast with a combination of incumbent Mobile vendors, Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) vendors and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). The incumbents and the AWS are often called Mobile Network Operators (MNO).  

This is the list of incumbent Mobile vendors providing service in all or parts of the Algoma District. They are the only vendors offering the full array of Mobile data hub, data stick and smartphone data service.

*Telus coverage is identical to Bell for 3G and 4G coverage. Note: The Incumbent Mobile vendors also have the low costs options called “flanker plans”. Bell offers Solo. Rogers offers chatr and Fido. Telus offers Koodo.

The next tier of service providers are the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) vendors which came into being as a result of the 2008 spectrum auction.

None of the AWS own frequencies in the Algoma District and so do not have their own cell site. They all have roaming agreements with one of the primary MNOs that allow the AWS to roam on a MNO network so the AWS coverage area is the same as their roaming partner’s. Except for Public Mobility, they all offer data sticks as well as smartphones for Internet connectivity. They may be a viable alternative for some people.

The final tier is the MVNO.  These are companies that lease capacity from the MNOs. As noted, one study listed over 30 MVNOs in Canada. Fifteen were associated with Rogers, twelve associated with Bell and two associated with Telus. Sometimes the flanker brands identified above are classified as MVNOs.

Many specialize in Pay-As-You-G0 (PAYG) service and my have restrictions on where the can be used. Users need to carefully analysis their usage patterns when  selecting a MVNO. They mainly rely on smartphones as their Internet connectivity method. The chart shows the ones which are common in the Algoma District.

It is very unfortunate that the majority of these terrestrial options are not available to residents of the truly rural areas. Indeed, there are areas within municipalities as large as Sault Ste. Marie and as small as Algoma Mills that are not covered with terrestrial based broadband (high speed) Internet. These areas can only get somewhat decent broadband (high speed) Internet coverage by means of incumbent Mobile vendors or older technology satellite both of which leave a lot to be desired in terms of speed, data caps and cost.

1 comment:

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