Thursday 13 October 2011

Data Hub Information Updated 26 Oct 11

There has been a rash of recent activity affecting the deployment, operations and cost of using a 3G HSPA data hub in the Algoma District.  
Tbaytel confirmed that their hub can only be used when connected to a Tbaytel cell site. They recently corrected a software glitch that allowed their unit to connect to Rogers sites as well. This is no longer possible.  I understand that Tbaytel is allowing persons who acquired the units for use in non-Tbaytel service to return the units for no or minimal cost.  It is best to check with agent where you purchased the unit.  As of this date, Roger data hubs can still connect to Tbaytel cell sites as well as the parent Rogers sites. 
There appears to be an associated issue with the data hub in the North Sault and East Algoma areas due to the proximity of US carriers. The current model of data hubs used by Rogers and Tbaytel can operate in the 2G GSM mode as well as the 3G HSPA. This means they connect to a 2G cell site either directly or as a fall-back if the 3G HSPA site fails.  There are reports that under some limited circumstances in the immediate border areas the hubs are locking on to AT&T 2G sites from the Michigan Upper Peninsula. This has been reported from the south-west  part of St. Joseph Island and the west shore of the Goulais Peninsula  Not only does this drastically reduce the data speed but there is a chance that the user may incur  huge roaming charges. 
The NetComm 3G10WVR2 (Black) has a separate indicator light for 3G and 2G.  The  NetComm  3G10WR (White) and the Ericsson W35 have a single light that changes its display to indicate either 3G or 2G connectivity.  Users in the identified areas may want to monitor the indicators to see what mode they are using. If the 2G indicator activates than they should check the units status on the software interface to see what network they are connected  to and if it is a the US AT&T network than they should disconnect.  I have heard reports that there were  similar situations along the border in the Fort Frances area.
The Bell NetGear and Ericsson data hub specifications do not identify the capability to operate in the 2G mode and I have not heard of any problems with their hubs in this regard. That does not mean there may not be a problem, just that I have not heard reports. Some users reported problems when the new site at Echo Bay came on line as the antenna on the Laird site needed to be adjusted.  This was partially due to the potential of interference from the US sites.  I believe most of these issues have now been resolved. In an associated issue, Bell is adding 1900MHz capability to existing 800MHZ capability on the HSPA only Desbarats site this week.  This should provide some relief to the congestion problem at this site.
As noted in this blog entry, Tbaytel introduced a 4th tier of Flex Data Plan pricing. Rogers has now added a tier but they have also increased their rates to match Bell’s equivalent rates.  As of today’s date, there is no indication of a 4th tier on the Bell site nor have I heard anything from other sources . Here a summary of prices as of 13  Oct 11
Data Cap Bell  Rogers Tbaytel
Flex Rate Per GB Flex Rate Per GB Flex Rate  Per GB 
3 GB
5 GB
$ 55.00
10 GB 
15 GB


20 GB 


See this link  for additional information on a price cap for Rogers service.   


  1. Proof is in the pudding, tbaytel's Data Hub rates are less than the big boys.

    Cheers to a local company not only competiting with, but winning against their larger competitors.

  2. Tbaytel is to be congratulated for introducing a data flex rate plan that is competitive within its limited service area.

    It is also worthy of note that through a RFP process the two regional economic development agencies - FedNor and NOHFC – made major financial contributions towards Tbaytel’s capital costs associated with putting a large portion of the backbone infrastructure in place and thereby helping to reduce the overall network operating costs.

    [For financial amount details see ]

  3. I thought Tbaytel was a partner of Rogers?
    "Cheers to a local company not only competiting with, but winning against their larger competitors".

    If they compete why does Tbaytel sell Rogers Rocket Hubs?

  4. I have a Tbaytel Rocket Hub. The speeds have fallen off badly the past few weeks. What's up?

  5. A Tbaytel media release refers to the connection as a “strategic business relationship”. Some more information about how this relationship works can be found in a media release posted on the Tbaytel website at News Release - Sept 1.pdf .

    The media release goes on to say “The co-branding will strategically position the two companies to offer their customers access to TBayTel’s [sic] unparalleled regional network, Rogers’ reliable Canada-wide network, world-wide roaming and the latest in mobile content and handsets.”

    While the wording of the release would infer an equality of customer access to the two networks, it seems that while Rogers customers and hardware have unfettered access to the Tbaytel network, while Tbaytel customers and hardware do not have the reciprocal relationship with the Rogers network.

    While this elephant to mouse relationship is understandable, it may be problematic for users located in the transitional area between the two networks. This is especially applicable to those that work in one area, and live in another or have a seasonal home in a different area. A solution that allowed unrestricted access in the local calling area associated with the transition zone would provide the flexibility users are seeking.

  6. Tbaytel Customer Support has admitted to some customers that the Tbaytel 3G/4G HSPA network is suffering server congestion at different times and locations.

    Like a lot of broadband networks, the 3G/4G capacity is a shared amongst the users attempting to access the network at any given time. This usually means that access speeds tend to slow down in the evenings and weekends when more users are on the network but it can also occur at other times of intense activity.

    There are also technical design issues with the 3G/4G HSPA networks that can affect the speed.
    In addition, as noted in the main post, Tbaytel has been tweaking the network in other areas that may have an impact on speed.
    Tbaytel stated they are aware of the problem and are working diligently to correct them.

    Nevertheless, I recommend keeping the pressure on by contacting Tbaytel to report the congestion whenever it occurs. The customer care number is 807-623-4400 or 1-800-264-9501.

  7. I don't know if this is still relevant to this thread, but the speed via a Rogers hub on the Soo North towers also went downhill in the last few weeks (for me). I went from a "reasonable" (slow but steady and usable) signal throughout September to pretty much nothing in October (occasionally I can connect, when I can it's dog slow and drops). The purchase of the hub (based on the initial successes over a few weeks) is now a big disappointment. Can I assume that a TBaytel congestion issues reported here are also a Rogers issue (they're on the same infrastructure, are they not...?). Sorry if I'm not understanding the technical details.

  8. Yes in the North Sault area, both Rogers and Tbaytel use the same infrastructure so one can expect both networks would show the signs of congestion.

    Some of the indications you mention are typical of congestion. However, some can be indicative of poor connectivity. If you do not already have one, an external antenna may help out.

    It my own case, I connect through the Goulais site and the speeds have been within the 2.5 Mbps (evenings) to 4.5 Mbps (daytime) for most of this week. This is within the range that I was getting before the onset of congestion. I don’t know if I have been lucky or the situation has improved.

    In the meanwhile I would definitely report your concerns to Rogers. See this link

    You can contact me at if you want to discuss the issue on one-on-one basis.

  9. What has happened to the Rocket Hub HSPA internet service in Sault North? It was very fast until Sept 30 and then the speeds went downhill-256K down/up with 300ms ping times. Often the internet signal goes off completely. When is the service going to improve?

  10. Agree with Marko - I had a usable service without any external antenna (not great but not bad and very consistent for about 4 week trial). I hit one speed test sans yagi at over 2.3 mb/s and consistently tested in the 1mb+ range (not bad for fringe and internal antenna). Signed up and now it's unusable even with foliage down and an outside yagi. Something's pooched. Cancelling Rogers this month. No sense paying $45 for nothing.

  11. I suggest you let Rogers know in writing the details as to why you are unhappy and cancelling the service. Rogers contacts are available here

  12. I also live in the goulais river area and was told that the towers are becoming too conjested and that their is simply not enough bandwith to satisfy everyone, every person is only allowed so much bandwidth on days that the service is clear you will get your full bandwidth if the service ever clears haha. now people close to the towers get what they call the umbrella and get fast speed all the time and they pay like 60$ for unlimited. My buddy knows the guy that actually works on the towers for tbay tel and said all that has to be done is to open up the bandwidth more, he said its like a gate, the more they open the more you get problem is it cost them alot to open it more. but apparently thats all it would take to fix the problem is for them to man up.Hopefully bell will come out with service soon

  13. Thank you for your comment. As I drafted the reply I came to the conclusion that the response was worthy of its own blog entry.