In the latest internet access stoush before the CRTC, Rogers has fired back against independent internet service provider customers looking to get at its faster speeds. The small companies recently registered a complaint with the regulator, saying the cable provider has introduced new, faster speeds for its own customers at no extra cost. According to wholesale speed-matching rules, they say Rogers is thus required to do the same for the indie ISPs who use parts of its network to provide their own services.
As I wrote last week, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium – a group of small ISPs – say that Rogers’ new speed boosts are not really new, they’re just the same products with faster speeds. The cable company’s short-answer reply via the CRTC is: just because they have the same names as the old products doesn’t mean they aren’t new.
The longer answer has to do with mind-numbing details as to whether the services are counted as aggregated or disaggregated, which are different ways of setting up network infrastructures and counting traffic. Small ISPs say it’s considerably more expensive to use the aggregated approach and as such are also fighting the pricing model before the CRTC.
In a simpler nutshell, Rogers says its new 35, 45 and 150 megabit-per-second services are “undeniably new” because its network has been configured differently and customers need new equipment to access them.
“These services require DOCSIS 3.0 modems and provide very consistent throughput as DOCSIS 3.0 technology combines multiple channels making available the combined bandwidth of the channels,” the company said in its filing with the CRTC (links to PDF).
Only a third of Rogers’ customers have these modems and they will be upgraded to the new speeds over the next five weeks. The remaining two-thirds are on older DOCSIS 2.0 modems and, in order to get faster speeds, they will have to consciously switch.
Delving a little deeper, Rogers says the CRTC only requires it to provide disaggregated access to the small ISPs for another year, which is why it isn’t offering the higher speeds through that particular set-up.
“One year of the transition period has now ended. Rogers submits that it would make no sense to vary the regulatory policy … and force carriers to take the steps necessary to implement additional speeds on a disaggregated basis,” its letter says.
Additionally, rather than slowly transitioning toward the new aggregated set-up, which will be the only model available to smaller ISPs a year from now, “the number of end-users on Rogers’ disaggregated… service has increased every month.” In other words, indie service providers who use its network are making no effort to move onto the new system.
CNOC is allowed to counter this response by the end of this week. With the fate of faster-speed services from smaller ISPs at stake, it’s something worth staying tuned to.