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.