Thursday 10 September 2015

Cellphones suck.

Yesterday was the Apple keynote at WWDC, and as usual they announced a number of new phones and devices. And  while there was nothing unexpected when they started talking about the pricing on the phones I just had to shake my head, not just for the fact that Apple is expecting people to pay 900$ (CAD) for the iPhone 6s for the base model, but for the fact that all the folks making smart phones are expecting people to be paying that much for a phone.

Now this is for a unlocked phone, and a lot of people will say that the phone is not that expensive because they will just get the provider to subsidize it when they renew their contract. Funny thing - the cell providers don't actually do you any favors with that subsidy. Take for example Fido, and the cheapest plan that you can get from them on the current iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 (Upfront Cost) - 349.00$
Monthly service cost - 80.00$/month
Service Cost (24 month) - 1920.00$
Total Paid (24 month) - 2269.00$

Now with Fido you can get the same plan, if you bring your own phone, for 40$ per month. So if I go out and buy a unlocked iPhone from Apple directly here's what I wind up paying:

iPhone 6 (Unlocked from Apple) - 769.00$
Monthly service cost - 40.00$/month
Service Cost (24 month) - 960.00$
Total Paid (24 month) - 1729.00$

Difference - 540.00$

So basically you wind up paying a extra 540$ for the privilege of getting a locked phone from your provider and getting stuck with their service for at least 2 years. And the kciker is that even if you wanted to pay the provider for the phone and get the cheaper plan they still want to charge you 839.00$ for the privilege of getting the phone from them. An extra 70$ out of your pocket just because they hand you the phone rather than getting from Apple directly.

This is a nice enough scam that Apple is getting into the financing game for the phones now. Right now it's only in the US but I can see it showing up here in Canada soon enough. Looking at the numbers they are only charging you 124$ US over buying it outright, and you wind up with the AppleCare warranty on the thing as well. Honestly if I was one of the existing carriers I don't know if I would be pissed off because Apple was taking a chunk of my cheddar by cutting into what I can make selling the phones, or happy because I don't have to carry the subsidy over the life of the customers contract.

And this cost is all for a 16gb base model phone. Yea, great value for the money there.

Friday 4 September 2015

Swithcing internet providers.

For several years I had been using broadband internet, TV, and phone service from one of my local providers, one that uses silly looking robots to advertise the services they sell. While things where good for the past few years over the last while the value of the services that I was getting, and how well they where working started to get to be less and less effective.

Then they sent a note over on my bill saying that they where going to push the price up 10$ per month on my internet service to pay for "network upgrades".

No sir, that dog won't hunt.

So I called up to complain, and explained that while the services where working I wasn't that pleased with the price I was paying for what I was getting and I was going to be looking at alternatives if they elected to continue with pushing through a price increase. After going back and forth I wound up getting a bunch of loyalty discounts, a upgrade to my internet speed, and a free whole home PVR rental for a year at no charge.

All was OK once things where installed, personally I didn't like the new PVR but since I don't really watch much (ok well any) TV it was not a huge issue for me, but then the internet upgrade fell back to what I was running previously, and I got notice of  *ANOTHER* price increase that would have taken affect this August.

No sir, I don't like it, don't like it one bit.

This time however when I called to complain about the price increase I was basically told to go screw myself. Not in that many words, but in essence the provider was unwilling to do anything to try to retain me as a customer. And with all the promotions ending I was looking at seeing the price that I was paying for the services jumping but about 50$ a month.

At this point I started looking into options.

Now in my neck of the woods we have baiscally two choices, the company I was with and one that features animals prominently in it's advertisment. Now the whole reason that I was with my current provier was due to some rather serious issues that i had with the other provider - bad enough that I refused to do any business with them for over five years. I infact actively moved services wherever I could over to other services even though they arguably had the better offerings in some cases.

Since it had been more than 5 years I decided that perhaps I would give them another look. In the past few years I had been introduced to some people that worked at the provider on the network side, and after talking to them I had a feeling that the service would have evolved enough over the past few years that I would no longer be having the type of problems that I was having the last time around. And when I talked to the sales people they where great about getting the services lined up and ready for us.

Aside from a small hiccup where I could not get the full speed that I was looking for (I was hoping for 50mb, but had to take 25 for the time being) the install was pretty smooth and the services are working much better than I had expected to have them work out of the box.

The entire situaiton however highlights how limited our options are for telecommunication services in Canada, we only really have three cellular providers who have networks that work across the country - Teuls, Rogers, and Bell. All the other providers are either owned by one of the larger providers (Koodo, Fido, Solo) or just rent network access from the big three providers (Presidents Choice, 711 Sepeak Out, Virgin). There are two that where looking like they might have been a bit disruptive but from what I have heard from others there's some pretty big issues with them.

Even when it looked like a larger player from the US was going to come into the market the big three basically freaked out and started a huge campaign basically saying that this big bad US company was going to come into the market and bankrupt the existing providers.  And while I can respect that the incumbent folks have a huge investment in the infrastructure they have put in place I would love to see someone get into this market and star disrupting things in favor of the customer for once.