Archive for Bell

Bell Awarded Canada’s Fastest Mobile Network By PCMag For Third Consecutive Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 20, 2022 by itnerd

Bell today announced its wireless network has been awarded fastest in Canada for the third year in a row in PCMag’s 2022 Fastest Mobile Networks Canada report, the annual study of mobile network performance across the country. The report also ranks Bell’s 5G network as fastest in the country, scoring fastest in 22 of the 31 cities and rural areas tested.

In its 10th annual Fastest Mobile Networks Canada test, PCMag’s wireless technology experts drove across Canada, covering 31 cities and rural areas to test the network speed and coverage of Canada’s major wireless brands. PCMag’s exhaustive analysis took place in August and September and ranked providers based on a weighted average of download speeds, upload speeds and latency.

Expanding 5G+ and 5G networks 
Earlier this summer, Bell announced the availability of 5G+ service in southern Ontario. Today, Bell is expanding its service to more communities across the province. Available today in Hamilton, Markham, Middlesex Centre, North Dumfries, Puslinch and Thames Centre, Bell 5G+ is expected to be faster and more responsive, allowing for a superior mobile experience. Bell will continue to expand 5G+ across the country and is on track to offer coverage to approximately 40% of the Canadian population by the end of 2022.

Bell also continues to expand its 5G service, with availability in all 10 Canadian provinces. Today, Bell is expanding to 84 more communities in Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Québec.

For more details about 5G+ and 5G, including coverage, pricing, availability and compatible devices, please visit Bell.ca/network.

The Honeymoon Is Over With Bell

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 3, 2022 by itnerd

Now when I punted Rogers to get Bell’s Internet offering, I was under no illusions that they were the best telco. Sure they have a great Internet offering that destroys what Rogers offers by a lot. And their fibre footprint is massive compared to Rogers as well. But the one thing that Bell hasn’t got its head around is customer service. It’s pretty bad and likely isn’t helped by the fact that they outsource and offshore their customer service. And having a quality customer service organization might have helped in the situation that I found myself in this past Thursday.

On Thursday I went down to the car to get something that I had left in it. On my way back I encounter a Bell tech who was going into the building’s telco room. Now this really didn’t get my attention at the time because Bell since the Rogers outage on July 8th has been in this building a lot flipping people over from Rogers to Bell. But once I got upstairs and had my Internet and home phone go down within a minute of my arrival, the encounter with the Bell tech sprung to mind. Clearly he did something to take me offline. Instead of running downstairs, I phoned Bell. And that’s where the adventure, if you want to call it that starts.

The first person I got after waiting for seven minutes hung up on me when I started to explain my issue. That was rude. But I had heard that their call centre agents are known to do that when you phone in for technical support. So I called back and got another agent after waiting for another seven minutes. And I explained to him that I was seeing these error codes on the modem, along with the fact that a Bell tech was in the telco room of the building moments before this happened:

Now error 1201 is something that requires a Bell tech to fix. It’s the fiber signal failing somewhere along the chain, and not necessarily at the physical connection point to the modem. Error 2000 is the modem being unable to connect to the network.

In short, I needed a tech to come out and fix this. Or the dimwit from Bell who was downstairs to undo whatever he did. But the call centre rep didn’t see it that way. After accusing me of not knowing what I was talking about, which was very insulting, and trying to “boost” the signal according to him from his end, he gave up and booked me for an appointment for “maybe” Friday between 5 and 9 PM.

So let’s think about this. A Bell tech enters a building, and within minutes I lose Internet and home phone, and instead of going down the path of figuring out who was in the building so that they could fix the problem quickly, they’re going to leave a customer without Internet access for a day or more. Maybe. I guess that makes sense to Bell, but it sure didn’t make sense to me. So I escalated the issue and got a woman who tried to hold the party line. But when I pointed out that I have been a Bell customer for just over one billing cycle, and I came over from Rogers, and right at that moment they aren’t looking any better than Rogers, she changed her tune. It did take her 20 minutes, but she got me an appointment for 5 PM on Thursday which I took.

Let’s fast forward to 5PM. Or more specifically 5:10 PM when I got a call from the Bell tech to let me know that he was en route. After I hung up with him I realized that without a home phone, there was no way for me to let him into the building. So I went downstairs to meet him. When he arrived I identified myself and explained why I was down there. That’s when he told me that since the Rogers outage, he’s been in the building so often doing installs that the property manager gave him and three other techs proximity keys to the building.

Rogers should be freaking if that’s the case.

I escorted him into my unit where he ran some tests on the modem, and the fibre cables in my unit. All of them were fine. He then went down to the telco room and came back 10 minutes later. He said that “a cable was disconnected and I all did was plug it back in.” I told him about my encounter with the Bell tech earlier in the day, and how my Internet went out minutes later and his response was a nervous laugh and he didn’t comment further. Now while I don’t want to climb inside anyone’s head, I am going to guess that he wasn’t surprised by this and he knew who it was that did this.

A few minutes later, I was back on the Internet. But unfortunately the modem had reset itself to factory defaults. That wasn’t a big deal as after thanking the tech and sending him on his way, I set it up in this manner again which only took a few minutes.

So, I will give the tech who fixed my issue top marks for both actually fixing the problem, but being professional which is a backhanded way of saying that he didn’t throw his coworker under the bus. In fact, any Bell tech I have ever dealt with either personally or on behalf of a client of mine has been great to work with. But their call centre reps on the other hand get a failing grade from me. One hung up on me, one really didn’t listen to what I was saying and kind of insulted me, and the last one is the only one who came close to understanding my issue and getting the resolution that I wanted.

Frankly, Bell has to do way better on that front if they truly want to take out Rogers.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If I were Mirko Bibic the CEO of Bell, I’d be doing everything possible to improve the customer experience as my experience with their call centre reps was not that good. And improving the customer experience should include ending their practice of outsourcing and offshoring their customer service staff. I say that because Rogers doesn’t have outsourced and offshore staff, and their customer experience is far better than Bell’s. And that was enough for my wife and I to hang in with them despite the fact that their Internet offering was substandard in comparison to what Bell offers. That is until their outage issues forced us to Bell. But to be clear, if Rogers somehow is able to get their act together and comes up with an Internet offering that is actually competitive with Bell and actually reliable, and Rogers customer service continues to better than Bell, then they may have the means to lure us back. Because having great customer service is what matters. And right now, Bell doesn’t have that. At least not at the call centre level.

Bell Expands Its Fibre Network In Ontario And Manitoba…. And Trolls Rogers In The Process

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 31, 2022 by itnerd

Bell’s trolling skills are top shelf. But before I get to that, let me get to the part about them expanding their fibre network. According to this, 10000 homes in Owen Sound will get fibre by 2023. And according to this, 6500 homes in rural Manitoba will get fibre too. Though I didn’t see a date for completion.

Now on to the trolling part. In the Owen Sound announcement, Bell said this:

Fully funded by Bell, this broadband expansion program will provide fast and high-capacity 100% fibre connections with Internet download speeds of up to 3 Gbps and access to leading Bell services such as Fibe TV. By the end of this year, Bell will have invested approximately $14 billion in capital expenditures since 2020, including planned capital expenditures of approximately $5 billion in 2022, to accelerate the rollout of its broadband fibre, 5G and rural networks.

And in the Manitoba announcement, Bell said this:

Fully funded by Bell, this broadband network expansion will provide fast and high-capacity 100% fibre connections with Internet download speeds of up to 1.5 Gbps and access to leading Bell services such as Gigabit Fibe Internet, Whole Home Wi-Fi and Fibe TV. By the end of this year, Bell will have invested approximately $14 billion in capital expenditures since 2020, including planned capital expenditures of approximately $5 billion in 2022, to accelerate the rollout of its broadband fibre, 5G and Wireless Home Internet networks.

You’ll note the words “Fully funded by Bell”. That I believe is a direct shot at Rogers who is known to be borrowing cash to buy Shaw Communications, never mind how they will fund the $10 billion which became $20 billion in network upgrades as part of Rogers being “committed to Canadians.” If that’s the case, well played Bell.

But the core issue for Rogers is not being trolled by Bell. The core issue is that Bell continues to expand its fibre footprint, which is only going to increase the advantage that they have over Rogers as I explain here. I say that because Rogers fibre footprint is tiny next to Bell. And they won’t be closing that gap anytime soon despite announcements like this.

Good times… Unless you’re Rogers.

A Report Detailing Long Standing Claims Of Racism, Sexual Harassment And Bullying At Bell Media Surfaces…. And It Gets Even Worse For Bell Media On Top Of That

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 29, 2022 by itnerd

When it comes to Bell Media and the fallout from the Lisa LaFlamme firing, things have gone from worse to even more worse. The Globe And Mail has come out with a bombshell report (unfortunately it’s behind their paywall) by Robin Doolittle who was one of the reporters who broke the Rob Ford Crack Video story. I read it on Apple News for free. So if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, there’s that option to read it. But I did snag this thread of Tweets from Doolittle that will give you a really good idea of what is in the story:

I encourage you to read the entire thread as it paints a picture that Bell Media has been an incredibly toxic workplace for a very long time. Or put another way, Lisa LaFlamme’s firing is just symptomatic of larger issues with Bell Media.

On top of that, there’s now this petition calling for the firing of Michael Melling is making the rounds. At the moment there’s 70 signatures. But as this petition gets more visibility, I would expect that number go up.

Bell Media had a PR crisis on its hands last week when they fired LaFlamme. But with this report and the continued blowback, we’ve gone far beyond that now. I’m not sure what Bell Media’s strategy to deal with this is, or if they even have one. But I would say that they need one ASAP or this will get out of control and end very, very badly for them.

Bell’s CEO Explains LaFlamme’s Firing On LinkedIn…. And It Went About As Well As You Expect It Would, Meaning It Went Badly… And It Gets Worse

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 28, 2022 by itnerd

The heat must really be on Bell over Lisa LaFlamme’s firing. Because the CEO of Bell Mirko Bibic has taken to of all places, LinkedIn to explain the firing late on Friday. Which to be frank is very odd to do to begin with. I encourage you to read the full statement. But there’s two things that jumped out at me. First was this:

Since Bell Media’s decision to end her contract, there has been heavy criticism. The narrative has been that Lisa’s age, gender or grey hair played into the decision. I am satisfied that this is not the case and wanted to make sure you heard it from me. While I would like to say more on the Bell Media decision, we are bound by a mutual separation agreement negotiated with Lisa, which we will continue to honour.

Honestly, that sounds like he’s trying to hide behind whatever separation agreement is in place to avoid answering any questions about this. Which is as good as not answering any questions and it makes it look like he has something to hide or that LaFlamme’s “age, gender or grey hair played into the decision.” As for the part of him being “satisfied that this is not the case”, we’ll come back to that in a moment.

The second thing that jumps out at me is this:

I also want to address the situation of our Vice President of National News, Michael Melling, who has been the subject of various allegations. Michael is on leave effective immediately, pending the outcome of the workplace review that is proceeding.

So wait. Yesterday I posted this story where this was the reason why he left:

CityNews has obtained a copy of the email sent to staff, informing them that Michael Melling, the vice-president of news for Bell Media, is stepping away from his role “to spend time with his family.”

“His decision reflects our shared desire to support the newsroom and do what’s best to help the team move past the current circumstances to focus on delivering the stories that matter to Canadians,” the memo reads.

Spending time with his family is way different than being “on leave effective immediately, pending the outcome of the workplace review that is proceeding.” And the only reason you put someone, specifically the guy who made the decision to fire LaFlamme “on leave effective immediately, pending the outcome of the workplace review that is proceeding” is that someone at Bell, probably Bibic, believes that Melling has done something wrong. Which means that Bibic’s statement that he is “satisfied that this is not the case” is kind of bogus.

The net result is that this statement has pretty much done nothing to put this public relations disaster to bed. In fact, it’s likely made it worse based on the comments that I am seeing in this LinkedIn post. Here’s a few examples:

Bibic might have been better off saying nothing. But I am guessing that some PR person at Bell thought by dropping a LinkedIn post late on a Friday would be a great way to put this to bed. But unsurprisingly whoever thought that this was a good idea was dead wrong. And now Bell has more blowback to deal with as a result. It truly can’t get worse for Bell?

Actually it can. From a reader of this blog who tipped me off to this. Here’s worse.

If you look at the names on this open letter, there are some prominent Canadian names there. That’s a major problem for Bell as the pressure level has just increased on them in a significant way. As a result, Bell really needs to up their game in terms of how they respond to this PR disaster. Because what they’re doing is clearly not working.

CTV News Exec Takes Leave Of Absence After Epic Blowback From Lisa LaFlamme Firing

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 27, 2022 by itnerd

To be frank, I’m kind of surprised that this happened. But late on Friday night, which I am guessing was chosen by Bell Media so that it was less likely to be noticed, news surfaced that Michael Melling, the vice-president of news for Bell Media was taking a leave of absence:

CityNews has obtained a copy of the email sent to staff, informing them that Michael Melling, the vice-president of news for Bell Media, is stepping away from his role “to spend time with his family.”

“His decision reflects our shared desire to support the newsroom and do what’s best to help the team move past the current circumstances to focus on delivering the stories that matter to Canadians,” the memo reads.

The memo says Richard Gray, who is currently regional general manager of eastern region, will step in to assume Melling’s role.

If you want a quick bio on who this guy is, you can read this which was supplied by a reader and covers who he is and why Bell Media brought him in. Now his name surfaced when LaFlamme was fired. Specifically for this reason:

After Michael Melling took over as chief of CTV News, he reportedly wondered who approved the decision to “let Lisa’s hair go grey,” a senior CTV official told The Globe and Mail on Aug. 18. Melling reportedly brought up LaFlamme’s hair color when he saw it took on a purple because of studio lighting. Melling declined to comment on the report and LaFlamme directed the Globe to her Aug. 15 Twitter video.

I am guessing that the backlash was too much for him and he’s decided to run for cover. Or perhaps CTV is trying to figure out how to quietly get this guy out the door without attracting too much attention. Either is plausible. But I can say this for sure. This story has legs, and is not going away anytime soon.

Bell Media Have Some Explaining To Do About How They Treat Women

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 22, 2022 by itnerd

Last week, CTV news anchor Lisa LaFlamme posted this to her Twitter feed:

The backlash to her firing was instant. In short, many thought her firing from CTV News was unwarranted and was a sure sign of sexism and ageism. And what didn’t help was a report that her age and letting her hair go grey were factors in her firing.

Clearly this blowback was so epic that Bell Media, the owners of CTV had to come out and say something:

While this statement says the right things, nobody really bought into it. And it also doesn’t help that Bell Media has a history of mass firings. Take this from last year as an example. Thus anything that they say will be taken as suspect by many.

But I suspect things are about to get worse for Bell Media based on this:

Danielle Graham is, or was best known for her work on CTV’s etalk talk show. But if you read her statement, and compare it to LaFlamme’s video, there’s a lot of similarities. Enough similarities that it makes me say that there needs to be questions to be asked about how Bell Media treats women. And that should be done by an external party. Personally, what I would like to see Bell Media hauled in front of a Parliamentary committee to answer some questions. But I don’t see that happening. However the bad press that this is generating is going to put Bell Media in a position where they are very uncomfortable and will have to have to address how they treat women in general, and women of a certain age in public. And on top of that, I would not at all be surprised if more women come forward with accusations of mistreatment by Bell Media, or being let go by Bell Media because of a “business decision”. On top of that, Bell Media is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. How must the people at HQ feel about this? And will they take action to address this if Bell Media doesn’t? That’s a good question.

In any case, Bell Media has some questions to answer about how they treat women. And they need to answer those questions immediately.

#Fail: House Of The Dragon Causes Crave To Crash And Burn…. Angering Viewers In The Process

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 22, 2022 by itnerd

Last night was the highly anticipated premiere of the Game of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon. And the only way to see it was to have Crave which is Bell’s streaming service. Too bad the number of people who wanted to watch it caused them to go down. One error message that users saw was this:

“We’re sorry. We have detected an error. Please sign in again to start watching or access your account” 

Or users were booted out of their Crave accounts and couldn’t get back in again. Which meant that yours truly along with a lot of other Canadians didn’t get to see the opening episode. In my case, I got fed up and went to bed.

Cue the outrage:

The thing is that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. Bell Fibe TV took a dive right before the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championships a few years ago. Which is ironic as Bell is part owner of the Raptors. And it seems clear that Bell hasn’t learned from that experience to bolster their streaming infrastructure. At least on the Crave side of the fence. Though to be fair to Crave and to Bell, HBO had issues last night as well. But since Canadians only deal with Crave for HBO shows, that’s who I’m going to criticize.

Revisiting How To Bypass Bell’s HH400 Hardware With Your Own Router… Along With Some Commentary About ASUS And Bell

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 16, 2022 by itnerd

When I first got my Bell Fibe Internet install, I set it up to use my own router to get to the Internet because I never, ever use my telco’s suppled gear for these reasons. Originally, I was using the PPPoE bypass method as described in this article to make this happen, which worked fine except for this:

Now I’m paying for 1.5 Gbps down / 940 Mbps up from Bell. And I am not getting those speeds using PPPoE bypass. And I know that the router is the cause because this is the speed that I get directly from the HH4000:

From the Bell hardware I was getting more than I was paying for.

So I put in a support ticket with ASUS who makes my ZenWiFi AX XT8 mesh router, but I have to say that their tech support was absolutely abysmal in terms of helping me to troubleshoot this issue. More on that in a bit. That negative support experience with ASUS made me go down the rabbit hole of tying to figure out how to maximize the speed of my connection using my XT8. And I hit on a method that so far seems to be stable. Though I will provide the following caveat: Your mileage may vary in terms of using this method depending on what router you are using. And it is a bit on the challenging side to set up. So if you’re not comfortable with the steps below, I would suggest not doing it at all.

In short, what I did is use DHCP and then use Bell’s “Advanced DMZ” feature to give the XT8 an external IP address which avoids the dreaded double NAT. The first time I tried it, this was my experience:

 I did some more experimentation with the “Advanced DMZ” functionality built into the HH4000. My conclusion is that it isn’t very stable based on the fact that it broke HomeKit support and VPN connections from my network to another network would not work at all or very well. Thus I would avoid this option entirely.

It now turns out that I should have done a bit more experimentation. Which I got a chance to do a few nights ago when my wife was not at home. With her not being at home, it gave me the freedom to tinker with the home network without getting yelled at.

We will start with the HH4000. You should connect a CAT 5e or CAT 6 cable from HH4000 10Gbps Port which is the silver one on the right hand side on the back of the HH4000 to the WAN Port on the router. One thing that I should mention is that you need your router to have a 2.5 Gbps port or faster for best results. If you have a 1 Gbps port on your router, you will never ever achieve a speed faster than 1 Gbps up and down. In my case, I have a 2.5 Gbps port on my router, so I will get speeds up to 2.5 Gbps up and down.

Once you do that, here’s what you should do next:

  • Go to 192.168.2.1 using a browser and be prepared to type in your HH4000 password
  • Click on “Advanced Tools and Settings”
  • Click on “DMZ”

This is where things start to get tricky. That’s why I have this screenshot:

I’ve redacted anything that I think is sensitive from this screen shot. But here’s what you need to do next:

  • Turn on “DMZ”
  • Put a checkmark next to “Advanced DMZ”
  • Under the word “Device”, find the MAC (Media Access Control) address for your router. That address is usually looks something like this: 2C:54:91:88:C9:E3. And it is likely located on the back or bottom of your router. Once you find it, click the “>” so that there is not only a checkmark next to it (as is the case with the first item in the screen shot), but it also gets copied to the right as pictured in the screen shot under the words “Active Device”.
  • Click save.

For bonus points make sure that under “Advanced tools and settings” it looks like this screen shot:

Specifically, turn off UPnP, DLNA, and SIP ALG as pictured above.

You should also deal with the WiFi on the HH4000 as well to cut down on potential WiFi interference:

  • Go to ‘Manage my Wi-Fi’ and do the following: 
    • Change “Whole Home Wi-Fi” to OFF. 
    • Under “Primary Wi-Fi network” click on “Advanced settings”.
    • Uncheck “Keep a common network name (SSID) and password for both 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands.”
    • Turn OFF the 2.4GHz network but leave the 5.0GHz on so that you can get back into the HH4000 if you need to. Or you can turn it all off as rebooting the HH4000 will turn the WiFi back on again.
    • Turn off Guest Network 
    • Click “Save”

Pro Tip: In my case, I just turn the WiFi off entirely and I have an Ethernet cable plugged into one of the gigabit ports of the HH4000. That way I can plug in a laptop via Ethernet and log into the HH4000 if I need to.

Next you have to go to your router and set the WAN port to use DHCP. How you do that depends on the brand of router you have. So you should check your router’s instructions to get instructions on how to do this.

Now here’s the important part. Power off (pulling the power plug is your best option) both your router and the HH4000. Go find something to do for a couple of minutes. Then power both devices back up. First the router and then the HH4000 once the router is live. If all goes well, you should have a connection to the Internet.

After I confirmed that I was back online, I was able to get this result via the XT8’s built in speed test:

Time to declare victory and have a beer as now I am getting the speed that I am paying Bell for via the XT8.

A couple of notes. I found that two things affected what speed that I could get. The first was QoS or Quality Of Service. Having it on slowed my speed significantly. Having it off increased it significantly. So I’m keeping that feature off. The second thing that affected my speed was a feature called AI Protection which ASUS says “not only protects your connected devices from compromise, but also your family from inappropriate content and unhealthy internet usage when using their smart devices.” Because it scans all the packets coming and going to and from the router for threats it will slow your connection. But based on my testing, it only slowed things by a tiny degree that is only noticeable on a speed test. So I’m going to leave this on because of the security that it provides. If you have similar settings on whatever router you are using, you should check those to maximize your speed.

This configuration has been stable for the last few days, but I will continue to monitor it and I am prepared to revert back to PPPoE bypass if stability becomes an issue. And trade speed for stability as a result.

Now this is the part of the article where I get to rant for a bit. Let’s start with Bell.

Consumers should not have to go through this much effort by using either the above method, or the previous method that I was using, to use their own hardware. And what is driving this level of effort is that Bell for whatever reason insists on using PPPoE on their Fiber connections in Ontario and Quebec (as far as I know, if other places in Canada use PPPoE on Bell’s Fiber connections, please let me know in the comments below). PPPoE was designed for DSL (digital subscriber line) connections and not for high speed fibre connections. Which without going deep into the weeds, this means that this protocol isn’t designed for this volume and speed of traffic. The fact that Bell continues to use PPPoE in 2022 is mind blowing. Much like the lack of IPv6 on their network, Bell really needs to do something about that. While they are at it, they could copy Rogers and just have a proper bridge mode on their modems. While I am sure that Rogers does not want their customers using bridge mode, and people like me are edge cases to them, Rogers at least gives their the customers the option of bridge mode and they even document how to enable it which is a good tech support call deflection strategy. Meanwhile, Bell has no such ability on their modems or documentation even if they did, which is a #Fail. The fact is that having a proper bridge mode would make life a lot easier for consumers as they would not have to go through these sorts of gymnastics just to use their own hardware.

The other part of my slow upstream speed issue was the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 router and how it handles PPPoE traffic. Now to be fair to ASUS, most consumer routers do a craptastic job of handling high speed PPPoE traffic. And because of that, if you want to do PPPoE bypass on your Bell connection because you may not be able to use the method above, you need a really fast router to keep up with the high speeds of a fibre connection that uses PPPoE. If you’re on team ASUS, the only routers that I am aware of that can keep up with a 1.5 Gbps connection that uses PPPoE are the RT-X89X or the GT-AXE16000. But I would not be surprised that if you go to Bell’s 3 Gbps service or higher using either of those routers, that you’d run into a version of the issue that I had with the XT8 as either of those routers are only somewhat faster than my XT8 mesh router. I should also point out that either router is super expensive and complete overkill for most people as they’re aimed at the competitive gaming market. Alternately if you are not on Team ASUS, you can opt to get enterprise class hardware from a company like Netgate or Mikrotik which are not only complete overkill for most people, but they come with a level of complexity in terms of setting them up and operating them that most consumers aren’t used to. But this sort of gear will give you the performance that you need for this use case because it’s enterprise class gear designed for high performance. Either way, if you choose not to use Bell’s hardware for your network, and you want or need to use the PPPoE bypass method, you will need to spend significant amounts of cash to get the speed that you are looking for, and potentially deal with a more complex solution. Which goes back to Bell’s use of PPPoE and why they need to get rid of it sooner rather than later as consumers shouldn’t have to spend large amounts of money and deal with higher level of complexity just to use their own gear instead of Bell’s.

Now I would like to comment on the tech support that ASUS provides. It’s horrifically bad. I spent over two weeks with them running around in circles trying to help them understand what my problem was, which was that this router performs poorly via a PPPoE bypass setup, but performs just fine in the setup that I describe above. Then I ended up sending them endless sets of logs and exchanging endless emails with them to see if they could debug what was going on. The case ended up going to the “next level of support” (their words not mine) at ASUS. And the best that they could come up with is that I had a bad cable between the HH4000 and the XT8. Which is illogical as the PPPoE bypass setup created the slow upstream issue, and a DHCP setup like the one that I had outlined above does not create this issue. Which following that logic chain eliminates the cable as a possibility for the slow upstream issue, and points to a problem with the XT8 router. An organization the size of ASUS should have tech support people who can follow that logic and come to that conclusion. But clearly they don’t and out of frustration, I asked them to close the case.

What is worse is that all this troubleshooting was done via email which is the absolute worst way to provide tech support. Especially with complex issues like this. Getting onto a Zoom session or a phone call would have likely resulted in some sort of positive progress, and maybe even a solution. But they didn’t go that route and the net result of this rather negative experience is that it drove me to look at other options that avoided the use of PPPoE to get better performance from the XT8. It also made me decide that I won’t be recommending ASUS gear to my home and prosumer clients anymore. And chances are, my next router at home won’t be an ASUS product. While ASUS has great hardware, their support doesn’t meet the mark. Having competent tech support adds to the value of the gear that a vendor like ASUS makes. Or in this case, not having competent support detracts from the value of the gear that ASUS makes. So if the people at ASUS are reading this, they might want to look at this negative situation and make changes internally to make sure that they’re not on the wrong side of a public post like this as this sort of #Fail reflects poorly on ASUS as a brand. And will likely affect their future sales.

Rant over.

If you have any questions about setting up your Bell Fibe connection to use your home router via either of the methods that I have described, please leave a comment below or drop me an email and I will do my best to assist. Oh, and if you’re ASUS or Bell and you want to speak to me about what I said above, I’m a very easy person to find and I’d be more than willing to chat with you. All you have to do is take a look at my About page for contact details and we can go from there.

Here’s The Reasons Why You Don’t Need 8Gbps Fiber Internet In Your Home

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2022 by itnerd

Bell is in the midst of launching 8Gbps up/down Internet service which is starting in Toronto and then branching out from there. While this sounds cool, you don’t really need Internet service that is this fast. In fact, you don’t need anything faster than 500 Mbps Internet service in your home. That’s because of the following reasons:

  • Your computer likely can’t leverage this speed – Part 1: Most computers have an Ethernet port that does a maximum 1Gbps. Some have a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port. Very, very few have a 10 Gbps Ethernet port. What does that mean for you? Well chances are you’re in one of the first two camps. Which means that you won’t get anywhere near maxing out this 8 Gbps connection on a single computer because you simply can’t utilize all of that speed.
  • Your computer likely can’t leverage this speed – Part 2: If you have the fastest WiFi standard on your computer and router which is WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E, the fastest speed you’re likely to see in the real world is just around a gigabit a second if you’re sitting right next to your router. Chances are you’re going to be six to twelve feet away from it which means that you’ll see half that speed. Maybe. So just like the previous point, you still won’t get anywhere near maxing out this 8 Gbps connection on a single computer.
  • Fun Fact – Not many services can leverage a connection above 1 Gbps: Services like Dropbox, iCloud, YouTube or anything of that sort really can’t fully leverage a 1 Gbps connection. Never mind an 8 Gbps connection. Don’t believe me. I encourage you to find someone who has a 1 Gbps or second connection and upload something that is 100 MB or more to a Dropbox account and see how fast it takes. Then find someone who has a 500 Mbps connection to the Internet and do the same thing with the same size file and time that. You’re not going to find much, if any difference between the two.
  • If you’re trying to pwn n00bs online, speed doesn’t help you: Beating people in Call Of Duty Warzone isn’t about speed, it’s about your ping times and jitter where lower is better as that will allow you to react faster to someone lurking in the shadows attempting to blow you to bits. And as I noted when I reviewed Bell’s 1.5 Gbps tier, those times were insanely low and didn’t change all that much regardless of what speed tier of Bell’s Fibe service I tested. Meaning that you will be able to pwn n00bz just as well at 100 Mbps as you would at 8 Gbps.

So who exactly is this service for? Good question. Here’s a scenario that I came up with that could leverage this speed.

If you’re say a content creator and you’re working with video that’s encoded in ProRes format which is known to make huge file sizes in the order of hundreds of gigabytes, and you had to move the video from your Mac Studio with a 10 Gbps Ethernet port connected to a Bell Fibe modem like the HH4000 which has a 10 Gbps Ethernet port, and the modem has Bell’s 8 Gbps service switched on, and this video is going to a remote server that also has 8 Gbps Internet service (or faster) and also has a 10 Gbps Ethernet card in it and is plugged into a 10 Gbps backbone, it would literally fly across the Internet very, very quickly. As in within a few minutes.

Now let’s unpack what I just said above. For this all to work, you need:

  • Bell’s 8 Gbps service
  • Bell’s HH4000 with a 10 Gbps Ethernet port
  • 10 Gbps Ethernet cards at both ends of the connection
  • A backbone at the remote end that supports 10 Gbps
  • An Internet connection at the remote end that has 8 Gbps service (or faster)

In other words, a lot of stars have to align to make this work at 8 Gbps. But in the here and now 10 Gbps cards for PC’s and Macs are not cheap to say the least and are not standard equipment on either platform. And most business backbones are still on Gigabit. And business Internet connections are rarely as fast as 8 Gbps. Bottom line: 8 Gbps service in your home might be useful someday. But today’s not that day. And it won’t be for a while.

Now if you’re asking me what my thoughts are about what Internet speed you should get. This is how I see it:

  • The average household really doesn’t need anything more than Bell’s 500 Mbps down and up Internet service. I’m basing that on a couple of things. Netflix does just fine in 4K with a 15 Mbps connection according to this. And video calls from Teams and Zoom aren’t all that much different. And playing video games like Call Of Duty Warzone aren’t much different than Teams or Zoom. So even with multiple people online streaming, gaming and video calling, it is highly unlikely that you will max out this connection.
  • 1 Gbps down / 750 Mbps service from Bell is overkill based on the above.
  • 1.5 Gbps down / 940 Mbps service from Bell which is what I have, is beyond overkill based on the above. So why do I have an Internet connection that is beyond overkill? Because Bell offered me an offer that made it cheaper to get than the 1 Gbps Internet service that I actually wanted. Thus who am I to refuse? And to some degree I fell into Bell’s trap which I will explain what I mean by that in a moment.
  • 3 Gbps up and down is just insane levels of overkill.
  • 8 Gbps up and down is just ludicrous levels of overkill.

So given all of that, why does Bell offer such a connection? My best guess is that they want to be known as offering the fastest Internet connections around just for the marketing win against Telus and Rogers. The latter more than the former in my opinion. So in other words, to use a phrase that millennial use these days, it’s a flex for Bell. But there’s another reason. Profit. Bell pays next to nothing for bandwidth. And they know that 98% of customers will never max out their Internet connections. So if they push customers to faster tiers via their aggressive pricing which has a $10 to $20 jump between tiers to make it attractive to go faster than what you need, and Bell’s insanely aggressive customer service reps push you even further to get more services, Bell wins because they extract more money from your pocket while their cost of goods (bandwidth) doesn’t really change all that much, if at all. So in my case, I got encouraged to move to a higher tier because they could give me a greater discount on home phone, the Fibe TV app, and Internet. And I went for it and fell into this trap. Though I will note that it’s still significantly cheaper than what I was paying with Rogers.

My advice is that you should stick to Bell’s 500 Mbps tier, or less, as you’re never going to max out that connection, and save some money in the process. Now I’m willing to hear alternative opinions on this. Thus feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts.