Review: Bell Fibe 1.5 Gbps FTTH Internet

Since I made the switch to Bell Internet, I’ve received a number of requests to review it. And also to review it against Rogers Ignite. Thus I will be doing so today. But I have to put a caveat out there first: This isn’t an Apple’s to Apple’s comparison. Let me explain:

  • In the Toronto area, the majority of Rogers customers are on what Rogers calls “Hybrid Fibre” which is their term for a fibre optic backbone, but the last mile delivered by copper wire. Contrast that with Bell where the majority of their customers get FTTH or fiber to the home. Meaning it is fibre from end to end. Why does that matter? The latter is way faster than the former as I will illustrate shortly.
  • I also mention the Toronto area because the tech that telcos have available to customers can vary greatly depending on your location. Copy and paste that for the price and the speeds that are on offer as well. For example in some places, like New Brunswick for example, Rogers does actually offer FTTH. And they are rolling it out in some other places as well. Though I have yet to come across it in my travels. And in parts of Quebec, FTTH rollouts from some telcos don’t reach the speeds that Bell or Rogers is doing in Toronto.

All of that means is that I can only compare the Bell and Rogers products that are on offer in the area of Toronto that I live in. Your experience wherever you are reading this from will vary.

So with that out of the way, here’s what I will be comparing today. The Bell Fibe 1.5 Gbps down / 940 Mbps up Internet offering will go up against Rogers Ignite 1 Gbps down / 30 Mbps up Internet offering. Now some of you are going to say that this isn’t a fair fight as Bell Fibe is going to utterly destroy Rogers Ignite. And you’re right. Bell Fibe does utterly destroy Rogers Ignite because Bell’s upload speeds make this an unfair fight as Rogers Ignite isn’t capable of doing anywhere near those sorts of speeds. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s start with a speed test from Rogers Ignite via my Asus ZenWiFi XT8 mesh router which was connected to Rogers Ignite modem (click to enlarge):

Ignore the raw speeds, which by Rogers standards are impressive as I’m getting 1.2 Gbps down which is above what Rogers promises. I want you to focus on the ping times and jitter. The ping time is sub 10ms which is good for consumer Internet. But the jitter which is a measurement of the variation or inconsistency of your ping speed, or put another way how consistent your ping speed is. The lower the jitter is, the better your connection is and the better your gaming or video call experience will be. But for a point of reference, anything below 30ms is considered to be acceptable in the gaming world. Though pro gamers want jitter to be in the low single digits. In this case it seems to be pretty decent. Thus other than the laughable 29.87 Mbps upstream speed, this connection isn’t that bad.

Now let’s look at Bell. Starting with the view from the Bell HH4000 modem which you get if you sign up with Bell Fibe:

So from the modem, I am getting more than I am paying for. And their “latency” of 1ms is likely the ping time. Which is great. However due to some issue with my ASUS mesh router that I am trying to figure out with the help of ASUS, I’m not getting all that speed on the upstream side of the connection of the router.

Even with this result, I want you to focus on the ping and jitter numbers again. The ping time is almost a fifth of what I was getting with Rogers. And the jitter is almost non-existent. The net result of that you can pwn n00bz in Call Of Duty Warzone with ease, or have a nice and fluid video call on Zoom or Teams. That’s the power of having an end to end fibre connection as it gives you a stable and low latency connection that was once only the domain of companies that could afford to get fiber run to their premises. I did additional testing on a few neighbours in my condo, all of whom have Bell Fibe Internet, and all of whom have different tiers of Bell’s Internet offering (more on those tiers in a moment), and the ping and jitter results were similar to mine. Thus I can conclude that regardless of what tier you choose, you’ll get high quality Internet.

One other thing that I will touch on before I get to what those tiers are is reliability. The same neighbours that I spoke to and tested their connections are in two camps. One camp are recent converts to Bell Fibe Internet because of the Rogers nationwide outage in July. And the other camp have had the service for a while. Some of them have had it from the day it was available in our condo development. None of them claim to have had any issues with the service. Many can’t remember an outage with Bell. While I will point out that past performance is not an indicator of future performance, hearing all of those comments suggests to me that Bell Fibe is reliable. Though time will tell on that front.

Now there is one thing that Rogers is better than be Bell at, and that is the deployment of IPv6 on their network. Or put another way, Rogers has IPv6 on their Ignite Internet offering and Bell doesn’t have it on their Fibe Internet offering. And Rogers has had it for years, effectively future proofing their network in the process. Given that we live in an age of smart phones, smart TV’s, the Internet of things, etc., the growing number of internet connected devices means that IPv4 is pretty much maxed out and telcos need to move to IPv6 as soon as possible. In fact, telcos should be on the IPv6 bandwagon by now. Which means that as it’s 2022, Bell should have had IPv6 on their network long before now. I say that because most consumers may not care about IPv6 today. But in a year or two they will when their latest cool gadget doesn’t work properly because of the lack of IPv6 support on Bell Fibe. Which means that Bell really should get about fixing that. Like now.

So over to pricing. Bell has a number of tiers for their Internet offering:

  • 3Gbps up and down: $139.95 a month
  • 1.5Gbps down / 940 up: $124.95 a month
  • 1 Gbps down / 750 up: $114.95 a month
  • 500 Mbps up and down: $104.95 a month
  • 150 Mbps up and down: $94.95 a month
  • 50 Mbps down / 10 Mbps up: $59.95 a month
  • 10 Mbps down / 0.93 Mbps up: $49.95

Fun Fact: There’s a 8 Gbps up and down service coming in September in Toronto and elsewhere soon after that.

Now those are the list prices on Bell’s website for the area that I live in. Like I mentioned earlier, prices can vary depending on where you are and so can the speeds that are on offer. And on top of that, Bell’s incredibly aggressive customer service staff are all too willing to make you a deal if you get your Internet with more than one service. In my case, I was originally going to get home phone and 1Gbps Internet and the price was going to be about $50 cheaper than Rogers at $167 a month. But I got a deal that cut that to $114 or so a month via a variety of discounts that are time limited. Though they snuck in the Fibe TV app into the deal to do that. You can get the full details on my experience here. But let me get to the point. Bell’s customer service reps are insanely aggressive and walk up to the line of what I believe to be ethical behaviour in order to get you to subscribe to more services with Bell. This behaviour by these customer service reps, whom I am pretty sure are working for outsourced overseas call centres, is sure to turn some people off. For example, when my wife and I tried to switch to Bell a year ago, their behaviour was so bad that it sent us running back to Rogers. Though that was only for one more year and ended when Rogers recent troubles started. And when we did switch a couple of weeks ago, we were forced to run the gauntlet of Bell’s customer service reps upselling us to death. None of this helps Bell’s public image in any way as a lot of people have said to me that Bell’s tech is great, but Bell’s customer service sucks. If I were Mirko Bibic the CEO of Bell, I’d be figuring out how to fix that as their Internet offering is enough to win customers over by itself without having to resort to the borderline used car salesman tactics that are used by their customer service reps. And while I am at it, I’d also suggest that you avoid ordering via the website as according to a pair of Bell reps that I talked to, about 50% of the time the order doesn’t go through and customers never get their orders fulfilled leaving them angry. Which is mind blowing as that would be a great way to not have to talk to their reps and still get service from Bell. Though the cynic in me says that it’s a strategy by Bell to get you to call in and talk to their reps. Either way, this too needs to be fixed. You might want to get on that as well Mr. Bibic.

The bottom line is this, and some of this will sound familiar if you have read this article that I wrote several years ago. Bell has a top shelf Internet offering. It’s fast with low latency, and they keep pushing the pace in terms of speed and availability. If they clean up the way they sell their Internet offering, and implement IPv6, they will have an Internet offering that nobody (ahem Rogers) can stop.

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