Xplornet asked me not to write this - Macleans.ca

Xplornet asked me not to write this

File this one under “Streisand Effect”


Photo by wheresmysocks/Flickr

File this one under “Streisand Effect.” It’s a story I wouldn’t be writing if I hadn’t been warned not to.

Let’s start with some background: in Canada, we supposedly have Net Neutrality. That means your Internet service provider can’t mess around with the speeds of your connection based on which sites or apps you use. Yet ISPs in Canada still mess with the speed of our connections based on which sites or apps we use. How is this possible? Two reasons:

  1. Because there are exceptions to the CRTC’s Net Neutrality regulations (if ISPs say they have to slow you down in order to manage “network congestion,” they can).
  2. Net Neutrality rules are only enforced after they are broken, only if consumers complain, and only if the CRTC bothers to investigate and act.

Recently, Internet law prof Michael Geist obtained public CRTC documents revealing that, though dozens have complained about cases of speed “throttling,”  the CRTC has only enforced Net Neutrality once, on a company called Barret Xplornet—a government-subsidized provider servicing rural areas with satellite service.

The CRTC investigated complaints against Xplornet and found that in degrading the speed of an Internet phone service (or VOIP), they were violating a Net Neutrality rule against slowing “time sensitive” applications. (Incidentally, Xplornet does not degrade the speed of its own Internet phone service.) The CRTC was also on Xplornet’s case for not properly disclosing its “traffic management” practices to customers. Both problems have since been addressed.

When I first read Geist’s blog post on this regulatory failure, I didn’t give Xplornet a second thought. The big Internet providers (such as Rogers, which owns Maclean’s) seemed like bigger stories, since they received the brunt of consumer’s complaints, and they are the ones the CRTC has neglected to act on. Xplornet was the exception to the rule—the one instance where Net Neutrality was enforced. Ten minutes after reading Geist’s post, I probably couldn’t have told you Xplornet’s name.

But I certainly know it now.

Xplornet got my attention when they issued a press release—a “warning to editors” not to pick up the story from Michael Geist. They accused him of omitting information, drawing incorrect conclusions, making allegations, and misleading readers. Of course, several news outlets had already picked up the story, so the warning came a little late. By then, most policy-minded tech reporters in Canada had already turned their attention to the CRTC’s hearings on UBB. Still, there it was, a public caution that picking up the story would “represent the publication of materially misleading statements regarding our company.”

It sounded to me like libel chill—a warning to go no further or face legal consequences.

Curiously, Xplornet’s press release failed to specifically identify any of Geist’s transgressions. Geist’s post didn’t make any allegations or draw any conclusions, false or otherwise. The stuff about Xplornet struck me as a straightforward summary of two public letters Geist had obtained from the CRTC. I got curious and rang Jeff Hecker, Xplornet’s in-house PR guy, whose contact info was included on the press release.

Jeff quickly passed me along to one Morten Paulsen, an external PR pro hired by Xplornet. He wasn’t too eager to chat with me. He didn’t like my tweets about the press release, and asked me whether I was actually a journalist for Macleans, or “a blogger who gets picked up from time to time” (I’m both!). For a big-gun PR professional, Morten has an odd way of endearing himself to the press. He called my editors at Maclean’s and demanded written confirmation that any piece I write would be edited for accuracy and fairness.

The interview went ahead with my assurance that Xplornet would have an honest chance to substantiate their allegations. Morten brought Xplornet’s head of legal affairs on to the call. Her name is C.J. Prudham. Anti-DRM geeks may remember as Sony’s legal counsel during the rootkit scandal in 2005.

I asked Prudham and Paulsen about their claim that Geist had left out important information. What had he omitted?

Prudham said Geist “omitted all of the conversations and correspondence between the CRTC and Xplornet. In fairness, he may not have had this correspondence. He certainly wasn’t on the telephone calls… I suppose it’s difficult to omit what you don’t have.”

I went on to ask how Geist had “misled” readers. Prudham cited Geist’s claim that it took Xplornet “months to respond to CRTC requests to improve its disclosure practices.” Yet it did take Xplornet 16 months to comply with the CRTC’s requests and to disclose to customers the ways in which their web traffic was being manipulated. Prudham said “we were in regular correspondence with the CRTC during that period.” I was confused for a moment as to why that would be relevant.  Then I realized that she was arguing about the meaning of the word “respond.”

What about Geist’s “incorrect conclusions”? Prudham cited his claim that Xplornet fixed the disclosure problem “only after the Commission threatened to launch a public proceeding.”

“But that’s true,” I pointed out. “You did this after the CRTC threatened you.”

“But Geist’s implicaton,” Paulsen said, “is that we did it because of the CRTC.”

Fair enough. In the interests of fair and balanced journalism, here is what you should know about Xplornet and what they want you to know. I’ll even put their stuff in bold:

  1. It took 16 months for Xplornet to conform to the CRTC’s disclosure demands. But they weren’t ignoring the CRTC—they were in constant communication during that time.
  2. When they did finally tell customers what they were doing, it was after the CRTC threatened to haul them into a public proceeding—but that’s not why they did it.
  3. They degraded the speed of a competitor’s Internet phone service (VOIP) to the point where it was unusable—but they did so by accident. It was a technical problem with a codec.

Perhaps Xplornet is satisfied that this matter is now cleared up. Or perhaps they regret accidentally turning a spotlight on themselves while fumbling to shut off the power.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown.


Xplornet asked me not to write this

  1. That’s some pretty sophisticated PR you got there, Xplornet…


    Gee, I wonder if Xplornet is reconsidering their public relations strategy?

  3. Great post, Jesse. I’ve been following Geist’s posts on this. It’s amazing to watch a company systematically shoot itself in the foot by alienating the press, their users, well-minded and curious citizens, and bloggers who get picked up by the press once in a while (as if that’s a distinction with meaning these days!!).

    Keep up the good work.

    Oh, and I tweeted this article and ‘recommended’ it on FB. Should I get a lawyer?

  4. Hacks. This is why we need policies promoting competition, and conspicuously not protecting the incumbents from challenge – whether giants like Rogers or tinpot libel trolls like these, they all fundamentally loathe and want to exploit consumers. At least when small ISPs can get in the game, they can pitch “We don’t treat you as much of a nuisance as the other guys do.”

  5. Good on you for taking this on Jesse, despite (or, because of) the intimidation from the hired goons. How do you feel about Nowak joining the tech ranks here @Maclean’s? To think that about a year ago I was bitching about Macleans ignoring the politics of tech, and now two of my fav’s are in the fold. Now if only they would take on Geist too….

  6. That’s hella stupid of them.

  7. Man I wish we had reporters like you in the states.

  8. Bad business strategy.  One generally needs to be as big as Rogers before it can get away with this level of arrogance and flouting of the law.

  9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jesse – you’re one of the best and most courageous journalists we have in this country. Keep it up.

  10. This article should serve as an example of real reporting.

    Thank you for writing this article, Mr. Brown: I’m not Canadian, but I am interested in the politics of high technology – especially communications technology – wherever it rears its ugly head.

    Your method of exposure is sophisticated here, and you have the courage to report on this type of issue despite warnings to, basically, stay out of it.

    You make me want to take up Reporting…
    …+1 for Jessie Brown and civilians.

  11. Actually this seems more like a diversion from the true reality, expected from a magazine that is owned by rogers. this is to take you’re attention away from the more important point that is that Rogers, Bell and other telco’s are price fixing, lobbying government and bribing organizations like the CRTC. The true criminals are the big co’s, while the small one might struggle and have no choice when backed in corners to act incorrectly(witch large co’s do constantly but have the power to cover it) they are the ones who brings cheaper and innovative services unlike the bigs who would rather stagnation to cram as many people on there already over exploited infrastructure. Usage-based billing should be illegal as you cannot resell already purchased data, you can only sell the access.

    • you say this, but yet explornet charges approx 60$ a month for 3mb speed and 40 gig’s of data a month… when I lived in a city and had cogeco cable high speed for 45$ a month i got 16mb’s speed and 125 gig’s of data a month…. I would rather go for the bigger co’s then some small time company that charges an arm and a leg for inferior service

      • bigger co(mpanies) THAN some small time …

      • Amen! Only you will NEVER see 3mb on xplornet… not even the temporary burst rate which is what the 3mb claim is.

      • Remember, these are Apples and Oranges, two different markets, they City gets better options for a number of reasons, Country folks get what is available and usually the network builds are more expensive so the costs are higher…

    • …take YOUR attention …

    • You didn’t even spell which correctly, makes you hard to take seiously

  12. I will say from experience. Definitely avoid Xplornet.  In a nutshell I suffered through 10 months of shoddy, slow, or intermittent connectivity before switching to Andrews. Also high cel phone bills because my internet phone was maddenly riddled with dead air blips. Xplornet’s equipment was outdated… since the switch, no problems.

    • I sure wish I had an option to Xplornet, at the present time, where i live I don’t. I can assure you when i do they will be GONE!
       This is my second go around with them and although i believe their tech services is somewhat better9at least friendlier) than a few years ago, i can assure you their products are overpriced and leave a bad taste in my mouth.

      • I share your pain.

  13. I know this won’t be a popular point of view, but ISP (including Xplornet) should be able to manage their networks and control the traffic how they see fit.  I know there is this thought by the average consumer that ”I should get what I’m paying for”, but frankly – you are not paying for what you think you are paying for. :)

    Again, I know this won’t be popular, but the fact is that bandwidth and capacity simply are NOT an infinite resource.  The total capacity of a data line (or a Satellite in this case) has a certain ”X / MegaBits or GigaBits per second”, and that capacity has to somehow be shared among the users.  I know every 13 year old out there figures his Daddy’s $50 / month entitles him to unlimited streaming, VOIP, NetFlix, YouTube, Torrenting and Porn streaming he wants – but the fact is, there is a finite amount of total capacity, and there needs to be some mechanism for controlling and sharing that capacity among the users.

    So, if you have a fixed/finite amount of capacity, then you have to either a) limit people by the number of hours per day/month they can use their connection, or b) limit people by the total data transferred in a hour/day/month, or c) limit people by what type of data hungry applications they run, or d) slow people down who are doing too much data streaming in a short time period, or e) charge people extra for extra use, or f) somehow else manage and share the capacity.
    Again – I know ”limit my internet use” is an evil thing to even think – but if this was a water main that was capable of 1000 gallons per minute, and it needed to be shared among a community, you’d couldn’t just let everyone fill up their swimming pool at the same time, as many times as they like.  You’d have to have some method of controlling or limiting or scheduling or charging people so that the overall water capacity was shared fairly.

    I know…. not a very popular point of view. :)

    • So my pool fills a bit slower. I don’t care.. Let the technology deal with the data sharing. They don’t need to stall certain protocols for the sake of others. Xplornet does this with ulterior motives,, If all protocols get equal cycles then they cannot be accused of being unfair. I’ve been in IT since 1968. I understand their thought processes also. They are trying to make everyone happy whilst at the same time pissing us all off!

    • They should expand their network infrastructure if they are to bite off more than they can chew. If too many people buy the same movie ticket and the theatre’s full, you don’t limit people’s viewing time.

    • What about the fact that Xplornet both advertises and sells packages claiming certain capabilities and then fails to provide even 15% of the advertised throughput during after school/evening hours. Our service has also been outright down for months at a time (while we still pay full price plus have to pay for dial-up with another company since Xplornet is so incredibly unreliable) and they constantly keep charging us customers $125-$400 to “repair” their poorly installed equipment.
      Currently our 5 Mbps package is giving us 0.3 Mbps again “due to weak reception”. This is at least the 10th time this has happened in the past 5 years and there are no other options for Internet available to us. We’ve been waiting more than 3 weeks for the “realign” again and are finally expecting them to be here later this week. To top it off I have personally spent at least 50 hours “on hold” as it can often take as long as 5 hours on hold to escalate calls to appropriate level tech support and it takes multiple calls to get anything fixed. To make matters worse when a call gets dropped (they regularly “drop” your call while being transferred or put on hold) you have to start back at square one in the queue.
      They are also playing games with our contract by initially guaranteeing they would lock us in at Storm Internet prices (Xplornet bought Storm) but since then they have almost doubled our monthly premium plus started charging rental on equipment (with Storm we paid $1500 to BUY our equipment so there was no rental and Xplornet promised they would abide by Storm’s agreements; Storm also provided free dial-up backup for when their high-speed was down but Xplornet dropped this immediately after purchasing Storm).
      Their most recent “game” is to insist our “old” technology service needs to be replaced with their new “4G” service and when “we” request this change this will be considered a new contract complete with monthly download limits, a doubling of monthly service fees, a $12 rental fee and a number of additional restrictions (such as only the first minute or so of any download will be a full speed and the remainder will be throttled to something like 0.1 Mbps). To push us out of the old service they are also dropping our speed from 5 Mbps to 3 Mbps (claiming that due to congestion and our location they can no longer support 5 Mbps on the “old” hardware).
      Xplornet has been the single worst company I have ever dealt with and that is impressive considering we also deal with Rogers (cell phones) and Bell (satellite TV, phone and 56 kbps dial up backup).

    • I should also have mentioned that the only time we ever see the advertised 5 Mbps is between roughly 2 AM and 6 AM and even then it is hit or miss. During daylight hours the best we ever see is about 2.5 Mbps and this would be on an “ideal” day (with very short bursts – every now and then – that are as high as 3.5 Mbps). Most of the time 0.5 Mbps to 1 Mbps would be more typical with short bursts into the 1.5+ Mbps range now and then.
      During my call with tech support (Xplornet) yesterday I asked what the history of bandwidth saturation for our tower’s transceiver was. He told me the node we are on has been bandwidth limited 24/7 according to the past 2 month history or in other words demand has exceeded the transceiver’s total bandwidth capacity 100% of the time for the past 2 months. I asked what the total bandwidth the transceiver on the tower can handle. To my amazement he said 7 Mbps. I then asked how many customers were on it and was told there is approximately 150 customers using that transceiver and most were on either the 3 Mbps or 5 Mbps package.
      At that point I asked how Xplornet could possibly expect paying customers to get their 3 or 5 Mbps when the feed transceiver only supports a grand total of 7 Mbps. His answer was that per the terms in the contract, 5 Mbps (in our case) is only the best case performance and should never be expected during typical Internet browsing times and that I needed to switch to their new 4G system where there is support for either 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps per node if I wanted better performance. He said they are expecting to “only” have approximately 300 customers with an advertised rate of 7 Mbps on the local 4G node (or a larger number of customers at slightly slower speeds). He told me they are moving many customers from their oldest systems to the new system as systems older than our current system are being shut down totally in the near future.
      If you do the math the total demand potential right now is approximately 150xAvg (3,5 Mbps) = 150 x 4 Mbps = 600 Mbps but the actual capacity is only 7 Mbps. The transceiver is only able to support 1.16% of the potential demand. No wonder performance is so poor!
      With their new 4G system there is a potential bandwidth demand of 300 x 7 Mbps = 2100 Mbps and the new transceivers can handle either 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps. This sounds better but is still less than 2.5% of the potential demand for the 50 Mbps transceiver or 5% for the 100 Mbps. At best this is only 5x better than the system we are currently using, but as far as I’m concerned it is still false advertising to over sell capacity by more than 20x to 40x (or almost 100x with the current system). Another way to look at this is to say for the current node we are on they have sold almost 100x more potential bandwidth than they actually have available and with the new “4G” system this will improve to them “planning” to oversell bandwidth by “only” 20x to 40x.
      When I pointed this out to the 2nd tier tech support “manager” he said the situation is actually “much better than that because at the moment the 4G 50Mbps system on the local tower has only 100 users so there is lots of bandwidth available”. He also said “looking at the logs the node is typically only saturated during the afternoon and evening”. Their idea of “lots of bandwidth” is already overloaded during common browsing times.

    • simple solution for them. Quit overloading their system for more profit. We should be able to use Skype and the video camera. If not , why is Skype surviving? Other ISP s must create a positive atmosphere .

    • I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. I’m paying $150/mon, not $50 as you suggest, and am supposed to be getting upward of 3Mbps. I’m getting a rocking 80kbps.That’s about 3% of what was promised.

  14. Hi My name is Mike Rix from Elnora Canada, I had a bad experience with xplore net also.
    the only reason we picked them for our service where we live is they were the only high speed internet provider. We paid 700 + just to get hooked up, then it was like we had real slow internet service, they sent out a rep approximately 5 times costing us $125.00 each time when we finally cancelled they took 406.54 out of my account 2 months later saying it was early cancellation charges. I don’t know what a person can do about these fraudulant scammy companies?

    • get a better computer LOL

  15. Thanks for the article, I am currently living 10 km out of Guelph Ontario and do not have access to cable, adsl, cell phone coverage. Its a joke. Family who live BC, live 100+km away from small towns and have cable access! I can’t believe that this is the population hub of Canada (southern Ontario) and yet all we have on offer is dial up internet (what i’m using right now). Unbelievable! We need a lot more competition here.

    Lately we read that the provincial government and our local council have forked out mucho dosh to put “broadband” internet access in the area. When I find out who is the provider – being Xplornet – I did a little research and have found nothing but bad news about them on the web. I thought it would be cable, but find out that its fixed wireless.

    Another thing I find here is that everyone wants to get you on a multi year plan – any provider that can only offer you a service on a multi year plan is to be avoided if possible. You know their business plan is to get you signed up, then screw you. What do they have to hide by providing you the same service on a monthly plan? Common Canada – get angry on these issues!

    • I too live just between Guelph and Milton. I have no other choice but Xplornet. What a rip off! I have complained to my MPP, and puslinch council. This company is feeding off tax payer funding and way under-delivering. Xplornet should be tried for corruption and extortion.

  16. I really do not think that xplornet gives a hoot about CRTC or any customers.The only time you have enough speed to do anything in northern NB, is between midnight and 8 am. Any other time, internet is more of a generator of frustration than a useful tool. Any time you call, there is always an excuse… too cloudy;too sunny too windy too many people on the service and on and on. When it is time to collect the fee, they are very very seldom late.

    • I agree !  We are in Northern NS & get the same excuses – there’s always bad weather in TO – I don’t care about TO – I can’t use what I’m paying for!!  Forget distance employment  !!  or even being able to connect to my banking most of the time….believe me , if we had ever been offered a 30-day trial (which I guess we should have been) this stuff would have been gone by day 10 or sooner!  It is nothing like what was promised to us!!!

      • Xplornet would have provided you with the highest speeds during the 30-day trail period just to get you hooked. After the 30 days, forget it — continuous interruptions, web acceleration issues, etc. I live in rural central NB and have had nothing but issues.  We are only 1200 meters away from Bell telephone DSL. Bell continually tells us that it is not in their plans to add our road for high speed internet, so Xplornet is what we are stuck with.

        • Stuck here too in eastern Ontario.. It’s quite infuriating!!!!

  17. @ Bert… feel fortunate… I live in SW rural SK… there is ABSOLUTELY NO ‘FAST TIME’ xplornet hi-speed. Be it 7am, 2pm & certainly not between midnight and 8am. I have often stayed up past 1am expecting to be able to download business forms and ended up with xplornet techies trying to endlessly explain why it is slow. Hours of this. And NO they respond (admit) There is No Time where I can Legitimately Expect to receive the 1.5Mbps speed I pay for. Just the .22 to .48Mbps I receive I guess. And yes after complaining…. it miraculously CAN speed up. Xplornet Sucks, its oversold and expensive bottom line.!@947b3fe83684b40c721f5cc013da6091:disqus  

  18. Awesome post Mr. Brown! I, very unhappily, have been an xplornet customer for a few years now and I have wasted much time on the phone with customer support or searching the internet myself trying to figure out their Fair Access Policies, to no avail. Recently, I had to call in about another matter and thought while I have them, I’ll ask again about the FAP….seriously expecting the standard response; “Oh we don’t know how much you’re allowed to download before throttling kicks in as it’s a complicated algorithm we have no control of”. Instead, much to my surprise, the rep I was talking with explained it fully to me! Wow! Oh…and turns out it’s worse than I realized. Apparently on my KaBang plan ($150 x month) I can only download 88Mb’s an hour before being “FAP’d”! Anyhow, before I go off on a rant here, my main point is that I thought xplornet was coming around and trying to be a decent company and that’s why they finally were divulging this information. Then I found your article and this explains everything. I should have known. I suppose I’ll continue to begrudgingly pay them while hoping and praying that someday, somehow, I’ll finally be able to get DSL or cable.

    I really enjoyed your article however and I have no doubt whatsoever about the accuracy of everything you’ve stated. This sounds exactly like the company I’ve been a long-time customer of and I have a few experiences I could add that fit right in.

    • We can commiserate..
      Great post! I am an Xplornet victim.. Well, I have a lot to report… first, I find their 20GB/month cap disgraceful. How does anyone get by on so little bandwidth. We have all kinds of streaming sites, not to mention VOIP and Skype-like systems, Yahoo and such filled with video content…. Their overage charges are outright piracy.. $3.50/GB over the 20GB/m limit. For a heavy user that can really hurt. They limit ftp/newsgroups/torrents to 35KB/s during prime hours (07.00-23.59) even though one gets 3-5Mbs during the wee hours. I find the whole thing leaving a terrible taste in my mouth, especially when Teksavvy allow 200GB/m and Rogers about 60GB. I’m under contract for 2 yrs.. I don’t know if I’ll survive till then without pulling my hair out. My advice? Stay away from Xplornet. Use them only as a last resort(after dial-up!)

    • I am in NW SK & I am getting rid of Xplornet tomorrow BEFORE my contract is up in June, paying the damn penalty of 6 mos just so I can use my computer on weekends & evenings again. I hope!! I have experienced almost 3 years of hell with these guys, once telling me it was MY computer at fault. I took it in to a shop to have someone look at it just to have them tell me there was nothing wrong with it. My brother-in-law has already left them & a neighbour is going to also. So goodbye Xplornet, I will NOT miss you.

  19. I am an xplornet customer, for another couple of days while I wait for my new service provider to come hook us up.  I have fought with Xplornet on my down load speeds being no where near the 1.5Mbps that I was paying for.  You can hardly use the internet with less then 1Mbps anymore.  It got to the point where I filed a claim to the Better Business Bureau to try and get out of my contract with them since I was not getting the service that I had signed up for.  While dealing with that claim, my speed magically became 1.5Mbps or faster all of a sudden.  Now, a few months after that claim is closed….I am back to a sub-par standard of internet again. 

  20. We need the Jesse Browns!!!!

  21. The biggest issue with Xplornet is that they are receiving huge sums of taxpayer’s money from Industry Canada as part of the Broadband for rural areas initiative. They take the money, slap a throttle on your speed, pretend that they care about you and laugh all the way to the bank knowing full well that you  probably don’t have an alternative to their service.

  22. I don’t work for xplornet but another rural internet provider, and most people don’t realize that internet access is a luxury. People seem to think that what ever is available in a major city is available everywhere, but it’s not. By moving to the country side you moved away from it all … and that’s exactly what you did. Now some of xplornets practices are questionable for sure, however people seem to think that bittorrenting and downloading of movies is an acceptable use of bandwidth…. well for rural providers that can consume a massive amount of the limited bandwidth available. If they slowed your speeds or traffic shaped your connection because you were torrenting during peak times… too bad. Just be happy you have access to the internet at all.

    • If I was paying for the base package, I might tend to agree, but since I’ve upgraded twice and am now paying 3x the base package, and since this is for a business and not just casual home surfing, I expect to be more than just “happy to have access to the internet”. If you pay serious money for a serious connection, that’s what you should get regardless of location.

      Furthermore, you make the same silly assumption based on out-dated ideas that Xplornet makes. I’m currently trying to take some online courses (not many other options in a rural area) and the lectures are downloadable from iTunes. But Xplornet assumes iTunes is only used for file-sharing fluff, so the connection gets severely throttled. One lecture, which takes minutes to download over cable internet, takes over 7 hours on Xplornet and often half way through, the connection drops out altogether and I have to start over. So some of us are trying to do more than trivial bittorrenting and downloading of movies but still get treated as if that’s all we’re up to. iTunes, YouTube, and even bittorrent, for that matter, are being increasingly used for more than just trivial applications.

    • Are you kidding?

      So if I sell you a car and you expect it to have 4 tires and it only comes with one, and maybe once in a while I put the spare on for you so you get 1 1/2 tires… that’s ok with you ??

      Nothing we PAY for is a luxury, it is a legal requirement to provide the goods the user is paying for. Xplornet is NOT doing this.

      As soon as xplornet sells a rural customer a service that service better DAMN WELL be available or it is FRAUD.

      • I am an Xplornet customer and I have read the online user agreement and they do not see speeds or guarantee them… check it out. So what you are getting is access the internet at an “up to” package speed barring technical or heavy traffic on a shared network. They are being public about all of this as well, so your expectations are off.

  23. while xplornet is mulling over meanings of words like responding and transparency, I’m looking up “breach of contract” and “reasonable duty of care”, this is the B.S. run around I got when I complained about their throttling techniques, which hampered not only my ability to do typical College homework, but even just staying connected to the internat @ all was a pain in the ass.
    I’m going to be looking at the rulings very carefully to see if ANY of the wording will qualify a breach of contract, thus nullifying my contract without penalty, and end the frustration of not receiving a reasonable quality internet service from xplornet.

  24. Too bad.  Also too bad that articles like this one won’t exist in the future.  The internet is about to be hauled off by falsehood regulators like SOPA, geared by elite to limit the information people can access all in the name of Corporate greed and false flags of terrorism or whatever else they can conjure as an excuse.  Do not be fooled, we will lose the internet whether you like it or not.

  25. I am experiencing similar stuff here.  

    • Would I be incorrect in stating something about contract law, wherein there are two parties involved, both are responsible in holding up their end of the the agreement (contract). You the payee, pay money for the service, Explornet the provider, renders the service for your money. Now if one of the parties fails to provide their end of the agreement, the contract is void. It could be the payee or it could be the provider. I would consider it unjust if a payee failed to pay for a perfectly good service, but on the other hand, if the provider fails to provide the proper or ‘agreed to’ service, then they are basically breaching their end of the contract and it can be considered void. Why are you paying the penalty to end your contracts? Cancel the payee (if on credit card) and send back the equipment, or dump it.

  26. Explore net offers 1-1.5 and 2Mb packages they
    will only sell the 1 Mb package to home owners.They also sell Hughes net high
    speed 1-1.5 and 2Mb packages But will only sell the 1 Mb package now will not
    sell 1.5 or the 2Mb package to anyone.I hope Hughes net opens a Canadian company
    and gives Explore net some compaction.They real need to b e shown you can only
    screw the customer so long before you lose your monopoly

  27. This is the only company I have ever dealt with that makes Cell phone companies look good by comparison. One of the worst customer service department and policies in the communications field. Maybe it is no wonder given this example of their senior management team.

  28. To ToddC: Maybe they should have though about the customer potential and planned networks appropriately to accommodate the demand. As if they had no idea that people might want something that seemed a little faster than dial-up (which in our case, paying for the largest package Xplornet had to offer got us just that most of the time – dial up speeds.. and that’s download.. nevermind upload). Kind of like an urban community letting development run rampant regardless the capacity of existing infrastructure, nor intending to improve/expand the capacity of it. Tsk tsk. What a shame. If we are not paying for what we think we are paying for, then what, pray tell, are we paying for?? Twice for that matter. In usage/contract billing and taxes?
    Please enlighten..

  29. Just signed up with Xplornet in Alberta. They offered me a promotion of 100GB of downloads per month, free set up, and 30 Money back. 10 days into having the service they throttled my speeds to oblivion. It takes 10 minutes for facebook to load.
    We I called and asked what was up, they told me I’ve used 5GB and they are slowing my speeds down regardless of the 100GB per month they offered.
    Told them to cancel my service and they said there would be $400 cancelation fee and that i would need to pay for set up.
    I did it anyways.
    Contacted eFirehose and their service is way better.

    • anyway, not anyways. Anyways [sic] is not a word.

  30. I had xplornet for 3 years and finally had it with their slowly degrading download speed. It got slower and slower even after my service up-grade. I was paying 114 bucks a month along with purchased equipment to get speed just above dial up modem speed. Thank you Mr. Brown for this honest article.

  31. You might be interested to know that once you give them your credit card – they use it however they want. We were told no installation fees – period to sign up. So you can imagine our outrage when they billed us $500. after we used our credit card for 50$ deposit. Then they refused to give it back. So essentially we prepaid for a full year of service in advance. Then they continued to bill us monthly for the next two months. It took 5 phone calls and I’m still pretty sure they owe us another 60 credit, but I don’t have the time to chase them.

  32. I had VOIP from ITALKBB for four years or more and up until a month ago it worked well. A month ago ITALKBB starting to cut off all transmission from my phone so I could hear but the other party could not. I replaced everything on my network and it stayed the same. Then I found out Skype and other PC based VOIP do the same thing. XPLORNET is the only common thing in this setup and they say my service is fine. I read how it might be a problem with their change to 4G somehow defeating VOIOP service. I also hounded them to get a static IP to avoid a double NAT situation and that does not work either. I live in rural NB, this is not my first experience with XPLORNET troubles. Summer of 2011 my regularly fast 3 mbit service became slower and we were advised we had to be downgraded to 1.5 mbit as we were getting a degraded signal (the only reason they could come up with.) My antenna height and the distance from the base hasn’t changed and I had already cut the trees down as I was instructed by the poor young guy whose one year experience was not a plus.

    I have worked with MW radio since the analog days and their theory does not work with me. However 1.5 m is better than nothing and nothing is my only other choice. Now this pops up to haunt me but nobody will say why it is happening because my service has been checked and no logic will sway them from declaring it someone else’s problem. Has anyone else had this VOIP problem? I would like to know so we can gang up and get answers.

  33. 2 Years later, and nothing has changed. Try Vonage with Xplornet… it’s useless. 1.4 second ping times.. constant outages.. and when you call to complain, they explain that the service package says UP TO 3mbps… and 100kps is included in that ‘UP TO’ 3mbps, so I’m actually getting what I’m paying for.

  34. we have also had a terrible time with xplornet, calling them every second day when our signal goes down and we lose connection. I have emailed the president also with our complaints and so far no answer, every tech support person I speak to gives me a different reason for loss of signal. We are only with xplornet because we are in the country and have not many options, is there another satellite provider out there with better service?

  35. I am with the “X”. I was with another provider who sold out to X. I was very disappointed when that happened as I had never met a customer of X that was happy.

    They forced all of their customers to upgrade to 4G and unless you agreed to a new 3 year contract you had to pay the cost of the upgrade. I thought that was ridiculous but I had no choice. I am a consultant and I need my Internet connection at home.

    There is no DSL or cable here. Wireless is the only option.

  36. Xplornet service is horrid. Unusable for maybe, just maybe 50% of today’s common net usage, (Like limited browsing and email… heck even their own email client is a joke). Cannot stream, cannot even watch a simple youtube clip without a decade of buffering. Their speed is bullcrap since their stated speeds are only burst speeds and sustained speeds often barely rival 36K baud modems.

    They keep raising fees under the guise of ‘improving the service for new clients’. No offense xplornet but I don’t give a sh*t about your new clients, the addition to your network of which will only see my speeds drop even further.

    Oh, and if you are unlucky enough to be in an under-serviced area and suggest to them that you would love to move to a competitor, they will unabashedly inform you that they know they have no competitors in your area so tough sh*t.

  37. xplornet is garbage we had it the internet was always going out on us after months of service calls and the run around we told them to stick it where the sun dont shine,dont get this crap you all been WARNED

  38. Xplornet is a predatory company, they come close to lying and misrepresentation, they benefit from the CRTC rules preventing other cable companies and communication companies from taking the population hub of Canada (Southern Ontario) out of the dark ages.

  39. …and this is why you write for MacLean’s. Next dead horse please.

  40. Double NAT should be illegal in Canada. Xplornet prevents their customers from having a real internet address so you are extremely limited in how you can use the public taxpayer subsidized service that they provide. Sadly the alternative option is to pay Rogers or Bell $750 per month for comparable service. Industry Canada and CRTC you are operating with our tax dollars you are not protecting consumers.

  41. Years later, nothing has changed.

  42. what a SCAM. we were charged a 500 installation a second time for something that was ALREADY on our roof. later threatening us by saying “you will be billed the price of all equipment if you do not pay us”

  43. When will the regulator get around to regulating for the consumer instead of for the industry? CRTC supposedly protects us. Instead, it protects its turf, which is the industry it’s supposed to watchdog. Don’t expect better under the current government.

  44. The alternative we found to Xplornet and its ripoff ways is a 4G hotspot. Works in the country if your cellphone works there. And soon even faster versions are coming. We’ve published a community newspaper from our cottage using a hotspot. Big file uploads, but all went well. No need for satellite Internet.

    • Frank, what does your plan include? We use (being conservative) 80-100gb per month. No cellular service gives more than 10gb, and they charge over $100 for that 10gb. If there was another option, I’d take it!

  45. We recently moved to a rural community where Xplornet was our only viable option as far as internet was concerned.
    Right from the get go they mislead us as to what services we were buying. The download speeds, how much data we were getting. When we did finally sort it out, and we were installed and ready to go, I very quickly learned that they almost essentially block downloads from third party aps. Itunes, utorrent, you name it. the download speeds are horrendous. 20kbps. And thats on a good day. I called customer service to find out why my speed was so low, and they finally after spending an hour on the phone with a technician told me that they cap bandwith speeds during peak hours. but hey from 2am-6am those caps are eased up a bit. 200kbps hurrah!
    Meanwhile i’m paying for 3mbps.

    • Same here in Southern Ontario. Speed has declined gradually over a period of time until its hard to even get connected. When i phoned to complain about the speed i was told it should be good as long as i use it between the hours of 2am and 10am. the rest of the time there would be to much traffic and i would encounter speed interference

  46. okay cool, generation x reporter confronts shady legal team of an innovative approach to providing a service to rural canadians. sorry but this article tells me ziltch about xplornet, net neutrality and crtc, all i got from it was a sassy mclean’s writer, not some savy financial column writer, one who could tell me fairly and accurately what canadian businesses to invest in. i personally don’t like xplornet but its what we got right? if they’re continually a government-subsidized provider of the net via satelitte then why bash them? if anything bash the us congress, energy east, child exploitation via canada’s early colonial period, alberta’s tar sands, whatever but please….if you’re going to take up my time to read your killer looking article, at least do so in a minimum 5000 words composition. the time it took to read this one the page’s ad’s already garnished 4 to 6 mb of data from my explornet account.

  47. This is an old article but things haven’t improved much in the past 5 years. In fact I would have to say they are likely worse. My service is supposed to be (up to) 5 Mbps but the speed I’m experiencing is down under 0.5 Mbps (500 kbps).
    How do I know? I know in three ways.
    1) large webpages take long to load – I can feel the delay
    2) download software reports the speed when you look at the web browse download page
    3) http://testmy.net confirms the above poor preformance
    4) Shaw on demand won’t even try to play a video because the network speed is less then the required minimum.

    I’ve been an Xplornet customer since 2007 and would switch to a difference ISP if one was available at my location. Unfortunately I’m stuck with what Xplornet provides.

    Very frustrating to say the least.

    Reports say Xplornet has 250,000 subscribes, maybe WE should get together and do something about the poor service we’re getting?