Comparing Internet Providers – Bell Sympatico

Interested in seeing how your existing Internet provider compares to your other alternatives? One good information source is Broadband Reports. The site includes tools to measure your current bandwidth, but more importantly, it also provides statistics on what other users have been getting from both your ISP and its competitors.

I recently compared Rogers against Bell Sympatico.

Rogers had a lower overall satisfaction rating (66%) as compared to Sympatico (78%) but in the previous 7 days had been tested by hundreds of users to provide average download speeds of 3.132 megabits as compared to Sympatico’s 1.878 megabits. That’s an interesting statistic because Bell’s normal High Speed service is advertised as a 3 megabit per second service. Although it is possible that these results are due to Bell having a higher proportion of “lite” customers on restricted bandwidths than Rogers, I doubt it.

This statistic helped me confirm what I’ve suspected all along, and what I also recently heard from a Sympatico tech – that Sympatico’s advertised speeds are for Bell customers closest to a Bell switching center. The further out you live, the lower speeds you should expect to see. So while Bell’s advertised maximum speed for its High Speed Service is 3 megabits per second, many of their customers do not actually see that speed. Personally, I’ve never been able to clock a speed higher than 1.7-1.8 megabits per second and have been told at various times that my DSL modem has been set to less than the maximum theoretical speed.

I wonder if there are subscribers out there who have subscribed to Bell’s High Speed Ultra service but are not really getting the promised advertised speeds. Just for fun, I called Bell and asked them if my line could support their High Speed Ultra service. The answer from the sales department, even after putting me on hold to check, was “yes”. So I challenged them as to why I was only getting 1.7-1.8 megs right now. At that point, they connected me to technical support who promptly backtracked. They also confirmed that my “profile” has a 1.7 megabit per second limit on it because a higher speed creates stability risks for me. So, if you’re paying for Ultra, run a speed test and make sure you are actually getting what you are paying for. Also, if you get frequent disconnects, consider asking Sympatico to dial down your speed.