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Rogers has reached a new low

If we exclude resellers, there aren’t too many Internet Service Providers (ISP) available to residential customers in Canada. It is in fact my understanding that the market of ISP who own their own infrastructure in Toronto is limited to a duopoly between Rogers and Bell.

I’ve been with Rogers for the past two and a half years and I must say their service has always been quite satisfactory in terms of speed and reliability. At $54.95 per month they are not exactly cheap, and they place a cap on the amount of monthly traffic, but otherwise they offer up pretty decent service.

Rogers gained a bad rep though, because they do traffic shaping. This means you can forget about making Skype calls in peace, legally using non-throttled P2P systems or legitimately download, using BitTorrent at a decent speed (saving encryption workarounds). More recently, they also came under fire for proposing the second most expensive iPhone plans in the world.

More importantly though, a while ago they started rewriting the pages that their customers visited, in order to warn them of their high internet usage.

Now however, they’ve reached a new low. They figured out that hijacking their customers’ user experience can be a very lucrative thing. Today I discovered that if you type a non-existing URL, Rogers will automatically redirect you to a page chock-full of ads, and a few possible matches (in reality they are mostly unrelated results).

Rogers' new low

They’re like the evil twin of OpenDNS, making money off of less Internet-savvy users who may not be aware that they can disable this “feature”. Clicking on “Learn more about this page” at the bottom of the page we’re brought to a “Click here if you would no longer like to receive the Rogers Supported Search Results service.” link, where any Internet-savvy user will opt out.

This being an oligopoly, there aren’t many choices available, but I’m a big believer in “voting with your money”, so not only will I switch to a different ISP, but I’ll also let them know why. At this stage the most likely candidate is Tech Savvy, but they’re slower than Rogers and throttled by Bell anyway. Other ISP suggestions are definitely welcome.

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16 Responses to “Rogers has reached a new low”

  1. h3 says:

    I’ve been with Tech Savvy for a while and I have many friends who prefer them to stinky companies like bell even though we live in Quebec.. I have nothing to say about their service except that it’s cheap and reliable, go for it you won’t regret it.

    Canadian telecom is a big f*cking joke.

  2. Guillaume says:

    Switched to acanac recently. Altough its a bit sketchy as an enterprise, the people are kind and helpful.

    http://www.acanac.com

    There’s a workaround for the Bell throttle :
    http://community.acanac.com/acanac/viewtopic.php?t=5903

    I live in Quebec city btw

  3. Nink says:

    It’s worse than that if you use non public DNS like VPN services your connection no longer works.

  4. 300baud says:

    TekSavvy are one of the biggest agitators against this sort of bullshit right now. I switched ISPs from another throttled independent ISP about a week after the choke was applied, because I could not get an answer about how they planned to fight it.

  5. Greg Donald says:

    Charter Cable has been doing this for at least 6 months already. God I hate fucking companies.

    As a web developer how the hell am I even supposed to be able to debug my Apache 404 setup anymore?

  6. Andrew says:

    If you’re in southern ontario, give Sentex a shot. Great customer service, no bandwidth caps, unlimited except for bell throttling, and it’s reliable.

    http://www.sentex.net

  7. Liam Kaufman says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on this. I’ve been a long time Rogers customer but this coupled with all the other crap is making me have a serious rethink about staying with them.

  8. Trent Wolodko says:

    They give you a means to opt out, they own the DNS servers too, so what’s the big whoop? I hate Rogers more than anyone, but I fail to see why this is such a terrible thing for an ISP to do.

  9. slim says:

    Sorry dude, we are all in the same boat. My only advice would be to pay the small difference and getting a business line. I have Cogeco and Bell (plus some resellers) and I can say that after trying all of them, it was worth the $5 difference in price from top level residential line to the first level business line. Not only did it triple my bandwidth basically but I also got instant tech support, no waiting and all orts open so I could runs servers (mail, web, gaming). Torrent throttling still happened but Skype, certian other encrypted traffic (ie newsgroups, some VPN services, encrypted video applications like Mivo and Joost) and all other important services remained fast.

    You will have to check availability but Cogeco allows the first 2 business packages in residential areas, after that you need to be in a commercial/industrial zone in which case I would recommend FibreWired (like FiOS in the states but no TV, just net access).

    slim

  10. RicoSauve says:

    Want really sucky? Try having to pay for a 2nd phone line AND a dial up account, totaling the same or very close to the same as what you’re paying now for your dsl/cable.

    The option ISN’T there for some of us. And even asking for a ‘business’ plan to have Framerelay, or a dedicate fibre hookup is so cost prohibitive because of how they have the charges set up.

    I would have had my cell phone canceled were it not for the highly suspect “early cancellation fee” that they wanted to charge me. I would cancel my dial up account as well, but when you’re unemployed, you need something to help in the job hunt.

    As far as the DNS results page, well, I don’t think that’s necessarily evil. It can actually be good in a way, at least it provides a search portal.

    I realize you probably use firefox, and have never seen IE since FF came out, but IE does this all the time, no matter what ISP you’re on. If you mistype a url, it will automaticly take you to MSN Search.

  11. ArthurM says:

    @RicoSauve

    For me, Firefox 3.0 occasionally does the same thing, except with google, but i’m willing to bet you can turn that feature off… and at least in the case of the built in “feature” in IE and FF, they redirect you to a portal where your results are half-way decent, whereas with rogers the results are mostly garbage…

    In addition to this, the way to turn off that rogers “feature” is cookie based, so if you have your browser set to delete cookies after each session (or do it yourself), you have to go through the same process again to stop rogers redirecting you to their crappy portal

  12. Paul Lambert says:

    “I hear out West they got internet” – South Park.
    I’m in Vancouver and I recently switched from Shaw to Novus. As far as i can tell Novus owns their own lines and are independently operated. My bandwidth tripled (HUGE speed increases) and I pay less than before. Unfortunately they’re fairly new and are only in Vancouver but have big plans to be Canada-wide. With any luck they’ll pull a Westjet and show the fat old guys how it’s done.

  13. rob says:

    Yeah I was with rogers too for awhile. I switched to Aliant (I’m in New Brunswick) I’m pretty sure they’re just Bell under another name but I don’t care, I’m just glad I’m done with rogers.

    You think you have it bad, I got blasted with a 1200$ Cell phone bill for using the internet on the phone. I was using Opera that I downloaded on my cell and wasnt’ aware of the ridiculous rate at which they charge. I think the rate is 5c a Kilobyte. So for a single picture that’s say, 1mb you’re gonna get charged about 50,00$ (my math isn’t the best but apparently neither is rogers)

    It’s complete robery, oh and that bill was based off 4 day’s of internet activity. I phoned them to make arrangements for payment and to add an internet package but my problems just started there, even with their most expensive internet package I kept receiving cell phone bills of 700-800$ for 2 more months before I told them I couldn’t afford it. I had been trying to monitor my usage but they offer no tools or way to do this and offer only a maximum 4mb’s of download, which they then charge the 5c a kilobyte.

    I paid them thousands of dollars over the span of a few months and when I requested they cancel my account because their fees were too ridiculous they also charged me a cancelation fee of 700$ on top of what I owed them.

    All in all I could have bought a used car, a decent one, for a cell phone and possibly 1 week of total internet usage.

  14. ronin says:

    This is very typical of rogers, what happened to consent?? who the hell said they can just hijack my browser like that?? i hate it how corporations like rogers love controlling its customers. i wonder if they know about every website we log on too…probably… i wouldn’t be surprised.. this is fucking illegal!!!!!

  15. IT Outfitters says:

    Not only does Rogers re-direct invalid or unknown DNS requests, but it also redirects valid URL’s if they do not contain www, so, if you were to try to go to: mail.mydomain.com the request would fail at the DNS level. This is bad enough in the browser, however, if you have other services that depend on that name, they may fail DNS resolution, and do so silently, so the service will fail, and the user will not get an obvious message indicating failure.

    It is my view that this is inappropriate for an ISP, particularly since they are such a large base supplier of internet connectivity. Their changes have cost many of my clients money to discover and work around the issue, and in light of the fact that this is clearly not implemented to enhance legitimate use of the end users of Rogers connections, Rogers should be held accountable for the inconvenience, and perhaps even the charges incurred by business and home users to work around or fix the issue… I think this could be a fertile field for consideration of class action…

    Keith Waldron
    IT Outfitters

  16. Dave says:

    Yep, as a torontonian, our only options are:
    1. rogers and their muckity-muck.
    2. bell and their throttles.
    3. bell leased lines resellers with the same throttles.

    After reading about this Novus company out west, I pray they open up shop in Ontario.. there are hundreds of thousands of tech-savvy people just waiting for a nEXT option of “free tubes” … Once upon a time Canada was a world leader in bandwidth availability.. Now it’s becoming another tiered luxury good duopoly to make the rich richer. =/ boo urns.

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