ISP Choice and Speed

Trying to figure out my typical throughput to determine what I need out of my new ISP as I move to Montreal. One issue is that I don’t know how long I’ll spend in Montreal. So I really need a monthly plan (not a contract).

Currently, in Austin, I’m mostly on a WiFi (802.11g) connection to an AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Pro DSL line.The plan is advertised as 3 Mbps downstream and 512 kbps upstream. It’s been fairly consistent over the past few months. There’s currently a desktop connected directly to the router but its network activity is minimal.
Here’s what the connection speeds look like, at this point:
So… About 1.6 Mbps down, 400 kbps up. For my typical use (including Skype, large number of podcast downloads, etc.), I’ve been finding it sufficiently fast.
So, how can I get something similar in Montreal?
Well, a similar 3Mbps/512kbps plan doesn’t seem to exist. Typical DSL plans in Montreal seem to be either faster (5-7 Mbps up, 800 kbps down) or much slower (288-500 kbps both dl/ul).
I really don’t need more speed than I currently have here and the faster plans are (unsurprisingly) more expensive than what I’m getting here. The lower-speed plans are somewhat less expensive than what I get here but they really seem quite slow. I mean, my upload speed is decent at 400 kbps but with all the overhead, I’m guessing a service advertised at 500 kbps must be rather slow. And I have a hard time figuring what that might feel like as a download speed.
The other issue is which specific ISP to choose. There’s choice. In fact, there’s a large number of individual providers. But it’s still limited in terms of actual plans.
I’ve had Bell Sympatico in the past and actually had good service from them. But they’re the most expensive DSL provider. The 7Mbps plan is over 42$ (w/o a contract) and it has a relatively low cap of 30GB/mo. Their 500kbps is quite expensive at 30$/mo. (w/o a contract), has an incredibly low cap (2GB/mo.), and very high price for extra bandwidth (7.50$/GB).
There are several unlimited or high cap (100GB) plans from “independent” providers like Vif and RadioActif. The normal price for a 5Mbps/800kbps (dl/ul) seems to be around 30$/mo. (w/o contract). Unlike Bell, these plans don’t include a modem. I’m not sure my current ADSL modem (Motorola 2210) can be used with any of these ISPs. I’ve sent emails to several of them to inquire about this. Modem rental is 10$/mo., making these independent ISPs almost as expensive as Bell. The modems they sell are around 90$, which is almost twice as expensive as the retail price of the Motorola 2210. (Actually, the modem was free after a cashback.) I already have WiFi routers, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
I guess the main issue at this point is the modem, then. There really should be a site where we can see which modem is supported by which ISP. My searches with the modem’s model number aren’t returning the kind of results I want. The user manual doesn’t seem to contain any information which could help me find this out. Maybe this modem is only supported on AT&T, in which case I might have to buy a new DSL modem. 
Ah, well…

Author: enkerli

French-speaking ethnographer, homeroaster, anthropologist, musician, coffee enthusiast.

5 thoughts on “ISP Choice and Speed”

  1. @Salivate Thanks for the advice. Had seen their name, along with Montreal-DSL and a few others. Apparently, some other ISPs are in fact going through Teksavvy.
    Are you using Teksavvy yourself and/or do you work for them?
    I also need to know if my modem works with their service but I’m assuming they’re all pretty much the same. If I can get access to an ADSL modem through RS, I should be fine.


  2. @RS Thanks for your comments. I understand these issues but I still think I’ll be going to Radioactif or Vif. And, to be honest, if the rates were lower, I might even go back to Sympatico. I value my friendships but I don’t see boycotting as a very efficient strategy.
    Plus, it’s just for a short period of time and I don’t really have any money to spend. I just need frequent access to the ‘Net for a little while.
    I’ll answer more in private. Even if you hadn’t put your initials, I’m pretty sure I would have guessed who you are… 😉

  3. A few things…first, we’re all currently at war with bell because of their anti-competitive practices with regards to sharing the network that the taxpayers built. So, please don’t go with Bell Sympatico. Second, DSL was incredibly hard to get setup and depending on the apartment and neighborhood, is incredibly unreliable. Bell’s taken terrible care of their network…as soon as the snow melt starts, I have regular DSL outages as the line or the local connections flood (outages on my local line and unable to be fixed by my third-party ISP). As a consequence, I’d definitely not recommend DSL to anyone moving to Montreal (although of course, you’re not new to the hood)…the infrastructure is terrible in many neighborhoods. That leaves cable…I’m no fan of Videotron’s corporate practices either, but they have been very reliable. Fortunately, there are now 3rd party cable providers…once my Videotron contract is up this summer I’ll switch to Electronic Box’s cable service. They are, however, alot more expensive than Vif’s $30 plan. So, cable aside, If you need a DSL modem that works, I have a spare…

    You can find a lot more info about 3rd party ISPs here.

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