I Am Accusing SaskTel Management of Corruption

I talked with some neighbours tonight about our internet disaster after their son (hi, Zack!) brought some of my blog posts to their attention. After some emails with the attorney essentially representing me at the recent CRTC hearings and conversations with neigbours who have been here longer than I am, I am ready to flat out accuse SaskTel management of corruption and of accepting kickbacks/bribes or other illicit financial incentives from at least two sources. What makes their behaviour particularly contemptible is that they are a crown corporation. Therefore, I am also accusing both the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments as well as the CRTC of colluding in that corruption.

Accusation number one is related to the land on which sits the infamous Scout Lake Tower that serves no one but a couple of very isolated farmsteads.

One of SaskTel’s arguments for not provided the Sylvan Valley with service is that we’re not enough people. We are several hundred people. Why are the handful of homes up there more important than the hamlet of St. Victor and the surrounding farmsteads?

SaskTel also says that that the Scout Lake tower is serving the number two highway between Rockglen and Assiniboia. The highway was already serviced by the Rockglen and Assiniboia towers.

An independent company I contacted to get information about what it would cost to get a repeater installed in the valley used GIS systems to overlay existing service, population, and topography and could not find a logical reason why the Scout Lake tower was put where it is.

The only thing that SaskTel have not commented on is what sort of deal was made with the person who owns the land on which the Scout Lake tower versus what discussions were had with landowners down here in the valley.

In short, every single one of SaskTel’s reasons for placing the Scout Lake tower where they did is unfounded and it is not unreasonable to assume that the reason was for their benefit, not that of the population they are supposed to serve.

Accusation number two is tied to the local satellite service provider, Xplornet. SaskTel is inexplicably pushing Sylvan Valley residents to adopt Xplornet satellite internet.

First of all, it is inconceivable to me that a modern internet service provider claims that satellite is a reasonable way to provide internet access anywhere but an ice floe or that it is truly “broadband” internet. Satellite has latency, meaning you cannot use it for Skype, Netflix, and other similar services. It looks good on paper in terms of speeds and bandwidth allowances, but there are bandwidth restrictions at peak hours.

And that’s if the service works at all. My aforementioned neighbours will be the first to testify that Xplornet is a scam. The service does not work and customer service is non-existent (canceling the service proved to be nightmare for my neighbours).

That SaskTel is pushing this service means that, at best, they are completely out of touch with internet needs in the 21st century and, at worst, that they have some sort of financial arrangement with Xplornet.

Moreover, the entire Sylvan Valley has landline telephone service. It stands to reason that those wires need servicing. I frequently see SaskTel trucks down here in the valley working on the telephone lines. How is it that no one has thought that when they do that, they should upgrade service with the goal being to connect us to DSL?  The last DSL connection is only 16KM away on both the east and west roads out of the hamlet.

When I suggested upgraded phone lines, which would provide us with hard wired internet, something that would be preferable to cellular, I was mocked by SaskTel for having no understanding of how this sort of infrastructure development happens and is budgeted for. Yet, this is the solution that everyone from that independent company looking at our cellular issues to other ISPs and local residents has come up with as being the most sensible. Rather than do something like that, SaskTel prefers to do minimal work on our telephone lines and push satellite service on us. Something doesn’t add up.

The CRTC hearings proved to be a joke. Recommendations were made, but nothing changed and the government continues to give our ISPs full rights to deny service if they don’t want to provide it, no matter the reason. In SaskTel’s case, that reason obviously goes deeper than them not wanting to spend some money. Obviously, whatever kickbacks they are getting by denying us service are worth more to them than all the potential future revenue they would get from hundreds of customers down here in the Sylvan Valley.

As for the Canadian government colluding with them, their idea of what sort of service Canadians should have is so far behind the rest of the world that it must be considering as hilarious as it is sad.

I am leaving Canada because of internet access issues. But I will continue to fight the fight from abroad in the hope that one day I can come home to the place I decided I wanted to put down roots and actually be able to earn a living without wasting all this time arguing for a service that is a given in the rest of the developed world and in much of the developing world.

19 thoughts on “I Am Accusing SaskTel Management of Corruption

  1. The Internet situation in both rural Canada and rural USA is a joke. Our phone co. is the same example of poor customer service. Years ago they flat out said we didn’t need Internet with a local dial-up number. When a small co. wanted to bring it in, Frontier fought it tooth and nail, right down to going to court. We finally got that. THEN Frontier brings in their own service & drove the other co. out of business. Eventually they brought in broadband, if you can call 1.5Mbps broadband, and the service is so poor everyone is complaining. About 3 yrs ago I contacted a wireless co. about expanding here since they were already going into nearby communities & they came here. There are times when I and the others who switched to Telebeep are the only ones who have Internet. Sure, it’s still not the fastest, a little under 5Mbps mostly, but much more reliable than the phone co.’s non-service. I’d like to know where’s Obama’s 25Mbps minimum speed for everyone?

    • Linda, I feel your pain, but, again, at least ISPs who want to provide you with service are not blocked by the federal government from doing so (as evidenced by the fact that Telebeep was allowed to come in) and your ISPs are allowed to compete with each other. And a 25Mbps target is five times as fast as Canada’s target.

      5Mbps for me is roaring fast… 🙂

      • No, our government doesn’t stop the competition, but they sure don’t encourage it either. If Frontier could have stopped Telebeep they would have. Telebeep bypasses them by hopping the signal from antenna to antenna and doesn’t have to deal with renting line from Frontier at exorbitant rates. Did I mention that Telebeep’s rates are also cheaper than Frontier’s?

        • See, I had an ISP back in Quebec try to do something very similar what Telebeep is doing and they got shut down with no recourse. There’s the difference between our two countries. There was no point for that little ISP to fight because they could not win. In your case, they could, and they did.

  2. We got Xplornet shortly after the beginning of May, so it’s been pretty much a month now and so far we have been very happy with it. Our daughter is here visiting and has Netflix account and we have used it without any issue and we are also in a valley but we are the only ones in this particular area. There has only been the odd time that we have had “slow” service. If we want to download something we do it at night when we are sleeping. When we use Netflix we do notice if the other computer is being used it isn’t as fast. For us Xplornet is working out great, and is much cheaper than the cellular that we have had to use the past 3 summers and we get 100G a month.

    I do admit that Canada, is way behind on the whole internet scene. When we were in South Korea you could get either free WiFi in most cities and towns and out in the country even on a remote mountain top you could get access to cellular and it was FAST, for a reasonable price.

    http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

    • Yours is the only positive report I’ve heard of Xplornet.

      The big question is, how much time do you actually spend online? This neighbour and I are online 12 to 16 hours a day, every day downloading, researching, streaming, etc. I have yet to meet someone who is online that much who can tell me that Xplornet works okay. Downloading at night isn’t always an option for me with the way my clients assign work.

      The other thing that terrifies me about satellite is that it’s not really a fix it yourself situation if something goes wrong. At least with cellular and a booster, I can troubleshoot my own issues.

      • I personally don’t spend that much time on the internet but Kevin probably comes close to it. He is always researching stuff and finding great deals and of course doing the blog. As I have said we have only had it a month but so far we are totally happy with it. Guess we will find out as the months move along.

        • I have yet to have anyone who uses internet to the level I do be happy with satellite, regardless of where they are. One of my long-term clients was stuck on satellite in Michigan until very recently and rued it constantly.

          Another thing to remember is that my livelihood depends on my internet connection not dropping out and being quick enough to allow me to respond to emails and such. Bad as my cellular connection is, I know I could never trust satellite because of its latency issues.

          • Ruth mentioned you were discussing Xplornet, so I thought I would chime in.

            We’ve had it exactly one month tomorrow, and to answer your question about usage, we have burned through 56 GB in that one month.

            Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. The typical download speed is about 5 Mbps, which is not great but certainly usable. Xplornet says that 10 Mbps is the maximum, however that is supposed to increase to 25 Mbps when they get two new satellites operational next year.

            Netflix has work with no problem. Skype is not perfect, but it’s usable.

            I think that those two paragraphs you’ve got written above regarding Xplornet are totally wrong, especially since you’ve got no experience yourself in using it.

            I think that Satellite internet would work fine for you and your business. Shame that you’re not willing to at least give it a chance to solve your problems.

            • Every single one of my neighbours down here in the valley who has Xplornet has found it unusable and unreliable. Xplornet customer service has been lacking and people have had outages for weeks because of a needed repair.

              Just because I have not used a service does not mean that what I say about it is wrong. My statements were based on testimonials from other people I trust.

              Also, I had satellite service in the past, just not here.

              Finally, I am not going to pay to have a service put in that is antiquated and cannot fully and totally meet my needs. This is classic Canadian reasoning that I should just settle for what’s available instead of fighting for what is needed. I am not going to be sucked that into that level of thinking anymore. I refuse to settle for anything less than the rest of the developed (and much of the developing world) has, and that is fast, reliable, and inexpensive internet.

  3. Also, read my next post about why a system that would not provide me with reliable Skype or force me to download overnight is not suitable to me.

  4. Xplornet has a 30 day money back guarantee. It would seem unreasonable (perhaps even a little pigheaded) to me that you wouldn’t even give it a chance under those circumstances. Especially when I am here telling you that in my experience, it works just fine. But I guess you don’t trust me.

    • The overwhelmingly negative experience over many years of six neighbours in the hamlet and scattered throughout the valley trumps your one month of experience in a completely different service area. I would be an idiot based on those testimonials to drink the Xplornet Kool-Aid that SaskTel is pushing down here.

        • I give up too if your ego can’t accept that six testimonials over several years trumps a single testimonial over one month.

          And by service area, I mean the technician who does the installation and repairs. He’s apparently useless. Weeks to get anything done.

  5. Agree with your Xplornet opinions. Took over Xplornet service when we moved ten years ago. Had to survive two long years of service as we took over the Contract. The only option to disconnect was to pay out the contract, full monthly payment for remaining months, we are talking plenty of money! Have tried all other options including Xplornet again. Call me stupid, Xplornet lasted two weeks, adios! Now use a local wireless supplier, Great service from ABC Communications. Big city folks do
    not understand limited download useage and speeds, sigh!

    • I’m really amused by Kevin’s Xplornet enthusiasm after a month with them when you look at the hundreds of horror stories across the country over more than a decade. Add in six families I personally know who have been suffering under Xplornet. Yeah, like I’m going to give them a chance to screw me over too!

      I just did some digging and guess which satellite provider I was with very temporarily in Quebec? Yup. They had a money back guarantee back then too and I took them up on it. Even going from 26Kbps and not yet needing to download or stream much as we were in the infancy of broadband, satellite absolutely sucked.

    • Yup, seen that one while I was doing my research. One of the MANY nationwide condemnations of Xplornet, on top of my six neighbours.

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