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Vidéotron Launches 4G LTE Network in Quebec With Speeds Up to 40Mbps

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Vidéotron, Quebec’s largest cable operator, has switched on its upgraded 4G LTE wireless network for the benefit of its mobile customers, offering real world wireless speeds up to 40Mbps.

LTE-capable devices will automatically connect to the new wireless network immediately, boosting speeds and network performance. Customers with older devices that are LTE-compatible may need a new LTE SIM card, available at any of the company’s stores at no charge.

“At Videotron, innovation is rooted in 50 years of history,” commented Manon Brouillette, president and CEO of Vidéotron. “Today, we have reached another watershed in our progress by bringing consumers this state-of-the-art mobile network.”

Vidéotron is a smaller player in a wireless market dominated by Bell (33% market share), Rogers (29%), and Telus (28%) but has grown significantly since the 2008 spectrum auction that allowed the cable operator to build out the wireless network in launched in 2010. Today the company has more than 550,000 customers and between 10-13 percent of the market, mostly in Quebec where Vidéotron’s network reaches 90 percent of the province.

Ottawa is watching the cable company’s performance closely, perhaps believing Vidéotron is Canada’s best hope to be the fourth largest carrier in the country. But most of the company’s wireless facilities are in Quebec and it is unknown if Vidéotron can or will be able to build a nationwide network of its own.

HissyFitWatch: Canadian Telecom Companies Annoyed Consumers Getting The Upper Hand

Canadians are demanding a better deal from their cable and phone companies and they are forced to respond.

Canadians are demanding a better deal from their cable and phone companies and they are forced to respond.

As the United States battles back against the introduction of usage caps and rising prices for broadband service, increased competition and regulated open wholesale access to some of Canada’s largest broadband providers have given Canadians an advantage in forcing providers to cut prices and improve service.

Canadians can now easily get unlimited broadband access from one of several independent ISPs that piggyback service on cable and phone networks. Some large ISPs have even introduced all-you-can eat broadband options for customers long-capped by the handful of big players. As customers consider switching providers, cable and phone companies have been forced to cut prices, especially for their best customers. Even cell service is now up for negotiation.

The more services a customer bundles with their provider, the bigger the discount they can negotiate, say analysts who track customer retention. Bell, Rogers, Telus, and others have a major interest keeping your business, even if it means reducing your price.

“It’s far more lucrative for the telecom company to keep you there for the third or fourth service,” telecom analyst Troy Crandall told AP. It cuts down on marketing, service and installation calls, he added.

Getting the best deal often depends on your services, payment history, and how long you have been a customer. Cellphone discounts are the hardest to win, but customers are getting them if they have been loyal, carry a large balance and almost never pay late.

telus shawBigger discounts can be had for television and Internet service — cable television remains immensely profitable in Canada and broadband is cheap to offer, especially in cities. Americans often pay $80 or more for digital cable television packages, Canadians pay an average of $60.

Internet service in Canada now averages $45 a month, but many plans include usage caps. It costs more to take to the cap off.

Because of Canada’s past usage cap pervasiveness, online video is not as plentiful in Canada as it is in the United States. There has been considerably less cord-cutting in the north. Despite that, Canadians are ravenous online viewers of what they can find to watch (either legally or otherwise). As usage allowances disappear or become more generous, online video and the Internet will continue to grow in importance for service providers.

Customers should negotiate with their provider for a better deal, particularly if Bell’s Fibe TV is in town. Bell has been among the most aggressive in price cutting its fiber to the neighborhood television service for new customers ready to say goodbye to Rogers or Vidéotron.

Shaw and Telus battle for market share in the west and also have room to cut customer bills and still make a handsome profit.

Montreal Prepares to Say Goodbye to Analog Cable

Phillip Dampier August 22, 2012 Canada, Competition, Consumer News, Vidéotron Comments Off

Analog cable service is on the way out in Montreal.

Vidéotron Ltd. has stopped accepting orders for analog cable service from new customers as it prepares to make the transition to all-digital operation sometime in 2013.

The cable operator, dominant in Quebec, wants to dump analog service to make room for additional HD channels and faster broadband service, and although the company has retained a few dozen analog channels in some areas for the benefit of hotel operators and budget-minded seniors, the time has come to turn the lights out on the 60 year old technology.

Vidéotron is transitioning its customers hanging on to analog service in chunks, according to a report in the Gazette.  The vast majority of those customers are seniors, but hotel rooms also comprise a substantial percentage of the 412,000 holdouts.

Vidéotron experimented with a partial transition to digital in the Gatineau region, cutting analog service to just 30 channels. To entice customers to switch to digital, Vidéotron offered free digital set-top boxes to existing analog customers and special promotional packages that gave them digital service at the analog price. Company officials say it is unlikely customers across the Island of Montreal would get similar deals, but some price concessions on equipment are likely.

Vidéotron hopes the transition will make room for up to 100 new HD channels on a system that currently has just 71. The cable operator is facing increasing competition from Bell’s Fibe TV and satellite service, which provides a larger selection of HD channels, particularly for Anglophones in the province.

New Cell Tower Nightmare: Industry Canada Math Intrudes on Reality

Phillip Dampier June 13, 2012 Canada, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Vidéotron, Wireless Broadband Comments Off

Canadians: Get ready for more cell towers in your neighborhood.

Industry Canada’s fuzzy math threatens to allow cell phone companies to erect new cell towers in some of the country’s most scenic areas, which often coincidentally offer the best reception.

Residents in Pontiac, Quebec are learning that first-hand, as Industry Canada approves a controversial proposal from Vidéotron to install an 82-meter cell tower in the middle of a vista that tourist officials use in brochures to promote travel in the Ottawa River region.

It turns out the regulator now only considers an antenna’s base as a factor in determining whether to approve a new cell tower. That base amounts to just one square meter, “too small” by Industry Canada’s standards to conduct an environmental assessment. No matter that the antenna will tower nearly 270 feet into the skyline. Industry Canada is only interested in measuring the three legs of the tower (each leg is evaluated individually, not collectively), and at just one tiny meter, it isn’t worth their time.

That means local residents will have to contend with a new tower 25-stories high. As the Ottawa Citizen puts it, Vidéotron’s tower is smaller in the government’s eye than any pre-fabricated garden shed from Home Depot, which often requires a permit to install.

The new tower will be installed on Hurdman Heights, much to the consternation of area residents and naturalists opposed to its presence, ruining what many call the most scenic place in the region.

The local government of Pontiac has opposed the new Vidéotron tower since it was first announced, but the cable/wireless company pulled an end run around the municipality claiming there was a negotiating impasse and local officials would not meet to work it out, a good enough reason for the regulator to approve the new tower. Pontiac Mayor Eddie McCann says there was no impasse and the local council has been trying hard to reach a deal with the telecommunications company and never cut off talks:

“I myself had two or three meetings on sites with the representatives of Vidéotron,” he said. “As far as saying we were not responsive or willing to discuss — it’s pretty near stupid. We even offered our own municipal land as an option but they said it was too far between their existing towers.” He was exploring other possible sites as well.

“In fact it was Industry Canada that were non-responsive to us,” he said. “They accepted the proposal of Vidéotron without consulting us at all.”

And he believes Industry Canada could impose the same authority in any municipality.

“Certainly for anybody from Industry Canada to say that the municipality wasn’t interested in working out an arrangement was just ridiculous.”

Resident James Riordan wrote to Minister Christian Paradis last month objecting that the “impasse” was a misunderstanding somewhere, and had in fact never occurred.

A letter from the minister’s office tells him to take his objection to Vidéotron, and adds “the Department considers the matter closed.”

Vidéotron Announces 200Mbps Service for Quebec City, Beating Bell’s 175Mbps

Phillip Dampier June 4, 2012 Bell (Canada), Broadband Speed, Canada, Competition, Consumer News, Vidéotron Comments Off

Quebec City residents are enjoying the benefits of an Internet speed race between incumbent cable operator Vidéotron Ltée and telephone company Bell, with both bringing some of Canada’s fastest Internet speeds to the provincial capital.

Vidéotron Ltée announced it will introduce 200Mbps service in the city after completing a network upgrade. The company was undoubtedly responding to increasing competition from Bell, which is installing fiber optic upgrades in the city and selling speeds up to 175Mbps to area consumers and businesses.

The cable company has faced Bell’s Fibe TV service and has lost customers as a result. Now, Vidéotron is trying to regain its footing with upgrades of its own, including the introduction of Illico, which expands on-demand options and provides flexible access to recorded shows on computers, phones, and tablet devices.

Bell’s personal video recorder (PVR) set top box lets customers watch recorded programs on any television in the home, and can also record multiple concurrent shows. Vidéotron hopes Illico will help expand viewing options further for their customers.

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