Archive for Internet

Is It Time To Make The Internet An Essential Service And Hold Canadian Telcos Accountable For Providing That Service?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 18, 2022 by itnerd

Back in 2016, the CRTC said that high speed Internet was “essential”. This is what they meant by that at the time:

As part of declaring broadband a “basic” or essential service, the CRTC has also set new goals for download and upload speeds. For fixed broadband services, all citizens should have the option of unlimited data with speeds of at least 50 megabits per second for downloads and 10 megabits per second for uploads — a tenfold increase of previous targets set in 2011. The goals for mobile coverage are less ambitious, and simply call for “access to the latest mobile wireless technology” in cities and major transport corridors.

The CRTC estimates that some two million Canadian households, or 18 percent of the population, do not currently have access to their desired speeds. The $750 million government fund will help to pay for infrastructure to remedy this. The money will be distributed over five years, with the CRTC expecting 90 percent of Canadians to access the new speeds by 2021. 

The new digital plan also touches on accessibility problems, with CRTC mandating that wireless service providers will have to offer platforms that address the needs of people with hearing or speech disabilities within six months. Blais said this timeline was necessary, as the country “can’t depend on market forces to address these issues.”

Fast forward to 2022 and this really doesn’t go far enough to address what I think “essential” means to Canadians. Given that a lot of us still work from home, and the Internet is the difference between earning a paycheque and not earning one, or learning and not learning, I think that this needs to change. Now Public Safety Canada has a list of what it defines as “Essential Services” which it defines as this:

Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. 

And while this list does list “Information and Communication Technologies” as part of this, I think it needs to go further to include not only the Internet specifically, but it should also include telcos like Rogers, Bell, and Telus so that they are responsible for maintaining and resolving issues to a high standard. As in resolving issues within hours and not days. And having a minimum uptime guarantee that said telcos are held accountable to. Now I know that Rogers, Bell, Telus and others would say that this isn’t required and they go above and beyond for their customers. But while I agree that these telcos do the best that they can to resolve customer issues in what they consider to be a timely manner, I don’t think that’s good enough. When the Internet goes out for a single home or a group of homes, even for a few hours, there are people who aren’t learning or making a living. That affects the economy. That alone makes it worthwhile to explore this idea and to take action to make it reality. And perhaps if something like this came into effect, telcos would spend a lot more time and effort to ensure that their networks were resilient enough so that outages became corner cases. That would be good for all Canadians.

What do you think? Should Canada do more to make the Internet an “essential service” as I’ve described above? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

“Declaration For The Future Of The Internet” Signed By 56 Nations

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

Canada and the U.S. have joined about 56 nations in signing a commitment called the ‘Declaration for the Future of the Internet,’ to set new global rules for the internet that are underpinned by democratic values. The roughly 2,000-word document reflected a year or so of consultation by Biden administration officials with other governments, as well as with private-sector, academia, and civil-society representatives. 

In addition to its calls to refrain from “government-imposed internet shutdowns or degrading domestic internet access,” and “blocking or degrading access to lawful content, services, and applications on the internet,” the declaration backs measures to promote “affordable, inclusive, and reliable access to the internet,” plus a variety of privacy, security, and human-rights goals.

David Masson, Director of Enterprise Security at AI cyber security company, Darktrace had this comment:  

“People have been warning about the ‘Balkanisation’ of the internet for some time, splitting what should be a universal communication system into various blocs and areas of influence. At last, a group of democratic countries is taking steps to reverse some of the uglier aspects of the internet and insert some order and rules to support and promote positivity on the web.

The group of 56 countries will have to expand for this initiative to be successful. It will also take more effort to counter the opposing forces out there who see the protection of human rights, the promotion of the free flow of information, increased privacy, and any regulations for a growing global digital economy as threats to their order systems.”

This is going to be interesting to watch as I fully expect nations like China and Russia to push back on this, and seeing how they respond to this will be something to see. In the meantime, this in my opinion is a very positive move as long as the nations who sign on abide by this.

Supreme Court Of Canada Tells Google To Filter Search Results…. That’s A Bit Of A Problem

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 30, 2017 by itnerd

Earlier this week The Supreme Court Of Canada dropped this ruling on the universe:

Canadian courts can force Google to remove results worldwide, the country’s top court has ruled, in decision criticised by civil liberties groups that argue such a move sets a precedent for censorship on the internet.

In its 7-2 decision, Canada’s supreme court found that a court in the country can grant an injunction preventing conduct anywhere in the world when it is necessary to ensure the injunction’s effectiveness.

“The internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global,” the supreme court wrote in its judgment. “The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.“

Let me explain why this is problematic by going back to what sparked this case:

The case stems from claims by Equustek Solutions Inc, a small technology company in British Columbia that manufactures network devices, that a distributor, Datalink Technologies Gateways, relabeled one of its products and sold it as its own online and acquired trade secrets to design and manufacture a competing product.

In 2012, Equustek asked Google to remove Datalink search results until the case against the company was resolved. While Google removed over 300 specific web pages associated with Datalink, it did so only on the Canadian version of its search engine.

The supreme court of British Columbia subsequently ordered Google to stop displaying search results in any country for any part of Datalink’s websites.

So Google appealed that decision to the Supreme Court Of Canada and lost. And here we are. What the court did is it told Google it cannot include a company in its search results because the company might be stealing. There has been no trial (largely because the people behind Datalink cannot be found) and there has been no finding of guilt or innocence. What happens do Datalink if it’s the latter? Well, what happens is the company has taken a significant hit to it’s bottom line and its reputation. Not that that’s the case here as it appears that Datalink is in the wrong here. But it is worth considering. Plus, until this is actually dealt with in a court, Google is the gatekeeper to keep Datalink at bay. Why isn’t any other search engine mentioned in this decision? It seems really odd to single out Google. And since when are they the police for the entire Internet?

The broader issue is this in my mind: Canadian law is not the law of planet Earth. But in this case, The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that it is the law of planet Earth. This is a dangerous precedent as it basically says that a Canadian court has say over the entire Internet. That seems to be insanely broad to me. It also seems like a slippery slope. What happens when some nation decides that its view of the internet is the legally correct one for example? It makes me wonder what the future of the Internet will be based on what happened this week.



#Fail: Putin Gives The FSB Two Weeks To Come Up With “Encryption Keys” To The Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 8, 2016 by itnerd

I have to admit that I was stunned when I first read this report by Gawker where Russian Head Honcho Vladimir Putin has given the FSB, who used to be known as the KGB by the way, two weeks to  produce “encryption keys” to decrypt all data on the internet. That way he can look at whatever he wants.

Good luck with that.

Assuming that this was even possible as you’d need a ton of computing power and storage to even try something like this, something that I am not sure that Russia currently has, the question is, why? Well, I can only think of a few reasons:

  1. This report by Gawker is completely wrong and inaccurate. This is entirely possible as Gawker is in deep trouble at the moment.
  2. Putin is doing this for political cover for something else that he has planned. This too is entirely possible as the politics of distraction is a great way to give one political cover for something that you don’t want people to notice that you’re doing. Another view of this is that he knows that something bad may be coming down the pipe and when it hits, he can use this to get even more power.
  3. Putin has created a legal excuse to punish people who are otherwise political enemies. This is also possible as that is how things are often done in that part of the world.
  4. Putin has lost his marbles.

Stay tuned. This may or may not be interesting to watch.


CRTC Asks Canadians To Help Measure The Performance Of Internet Service In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 22, 2015 by itnerd

Now I have to admit that this is an interesting project. The CRTC yesterday put this press release out asking for Canadians to help it measure how their Internet service at home performs:

The CRTC is recruiting up to 6,200 Canadians to help measure the Internet services provided by the participating ISPs. Volunteers will receive a device, called a “Whitebox”, that they will connect to their modem or router. The Whitebox will periodically measure broadband performance, testing a number of parameters associated with the broadband Internet connection, including download and upload speeds. The measurement tests will run when users are not actively using their Internet connection. The privacy of Canadians will also be assured. No information concerning online activities will be collected.

The results of this project will enable Canadians to gain additional insight into network performance, including actual connection speeds, and provide them with a better undestanding of whether certain Internet services from participating ISPs are delivering speeds as advertised. These results will also provide data that will enable the CRTC to improve its broadband policy-making.

Using these results as a baseline, the CRTC intends to publish a comprehensive report highlighting the findings of this project. While the initial project is set to last for one year, the CRTC intends to continue gathering data beyond the initial year. The data will ultimately form part of the CRTC’s data collection and monitoring activities.

If you want to participate, you should sign up here. But I suggest that you hurry as I suspect that this will be popular.

One thing that I did find interesting is that Rogers put out a press release of its own very quickly. It had a very interesting stance:

Rogers Communications announced today it is pleased the CRTC is launching Measuring Broadband Canada, a new independent testing program that gives Canadians real information on the performance of their Internet provider.  The announcement follows the move by Rogers in 2012 to begin independent testing using global expert SamKnows, the same broadband testing firm announced by the CRTC today.

“This is great news for consumers,” said Robert Goodman, Senior Director of Internet, Rogers Communications.  “We urged our competitors to join us when we began independent testing three years ago so we’re thrilled the CRTC is taking this step forward today.  Canadians deserve the Internet speeds they pay for and more transparency means they can make more informed choices.” 

For the record, I checked the press releases archives for Bell, Teksavvy and Telus for anything similar and I could not find anything.

I find it interesting because I will admit that Rogers has put a lot of time, money and effort into making sure that customers get the speeds that they pay for. And they’re not only not shy about telling the world about it, but they use third parties like SamKnows (Warning: PDF) to back up their claims. Thus they likely see something like this as an opportunity to get another third party to validate how good their Internet service is compared to their competitors. But since it would come from the CRTC, a body that Rogers hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with, it would add extra weight to Rogers claims. And for bonus points, by calling out their competitors for not doing the same, they look like the good guy. This is smart marketing, assuming of course everything goes to plan.

So, will you be participating? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

How To Use Traceroute As A Troubleshooting Tool

Posted in Tips with tags on October 9, 2014 by itnerd

After I posted this story on Rogers apparently having issues with lag spikes while playing online games, I got a couple of e-mails asking for a tutorial on how Traceroutes work and how to use them as a tool to troubleshoot issues with your Internet connection.

On a PC, Traceroute can be executed from a Windows “command window” (aka a DOS box) with this command: tracert destination

On a Mac, Traceroute can be executed from the terminal window. If you need help getting to the terminal window, this YouTube video will assist you. Once inside the shell, you use this command: traceroute destination

In both cases, destination is the web server, game server or other Internet destination that you’re troubleshooting.

For this example I will be using as the destination:

tracing route to []
over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 2 ms 3 ms 1 ms [216.191.
 2 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms []
 3 4 ms 2 ms 2 ms
 4 2 ms 3 ms 2 ms
 5 3 ms 2 ms 2 ms
 6 79 ms 8 ms 2 ms []
Trace complete.

What you’re looking at looks complicated, but it can be broken down like this:

  • On the left is the hop number in order from your computer to the destination.
  • The next three numbers are the round trip time (RTT) or the time it takes for a packet to get to a hop and back, displayed in milliseconds (ms). By default, traceroute sends three packets to each hop, so the output lists three roundtrip times per hop. RTT is sometimes also referred to as latency. An important factor that may impact RTT is the physical distance between hops.
  • On the right is the IP address and system name for that router or system

So in this example there were six hops to get to (or in this case, the computer in Toronto that is pretending to be as the company balances the load of requests based on geography). Now in this example, there’s no problems getting to But how would you know if there were problems? I’ll cover some common examples.

Let’s take hops 5 and 6 and make them look like this:

 5 345 ms 223 ms 231 ms
 6 793 ms 885 ms 454 ms []

Having two or more hops in a row with high millisecond times is an indication of a problem. You can’t tell what the problem is from the traceroute, but you can clearly tell that something is up and it would give a network engineer a place to start looking. In principle, RTT values of less than 150 ms from your computer to the final destination shouldn’t be an issue. Many applications work just fine with latencies even higher than that, but for sites that are North America based, they should fall below 150 ms and usually are < 100 ms.

Now let’s say you see this on hop 5:

5 reports: Destination net unreachable.

The device on has determined that there is not a valid path. That implies a router problem or the network does not exist. Again, this does not tell you what the issue is, but it would give a network engineer a place to start looking.

You may also see this from time to time:

  2     *        *        *     Request timed out.

There are several reasons why a “Request timed out” message may appear at the end of a traceroute:

  • The destination’s firewall or other security device is blocking the request. Even if a firewall is preventing the final hops at the destination from showing up in traceroute output, the destination is likely still reachable. In other words, this may be normal.
  • There could be a problem on the return path from the target system. Remember the round trip time measures the time it takes for a packet to travel from your system to a destination system and back. The forward route and the return route often follow different paths. If there is a problem on the return route, it may not be evident in the command output.
  • There may be a connection problem at that particular system or the next system.

In short, there may or may not be a problem here. Further investigation by a network engineer may be required.

So, how would I use it to troubleshoot a game that has lag spikes? I would set the destination as the game server that I am connecting to and run several traceroutes at different times and compare the results. That should give you an indication as to if there is a problem or not. I would then present the evidence to the ISP so that they can troubleshoot the issue with some guidance as to where to look.

If you have questions on this, leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.

Why I Now Use Level 3’s DNS Service

Posted in Tips with tags on July 2, 2014 by itnerd

I as a rule have never used an ISP’s DNS servers. Regardless of whom the ISP is, they can be slow. Or worse they could do some sort of redirection so that if you mis-type a URL, you get redirected to a page that looks like Google’s search results page with suggested sites that it thinks you wanted to go to along with a healthy dose of ads that no doubt make the ISP money. Now in the past, I’ve recommended OpenDNS. But now I’ve backed away from that recommendation for the simple reason that they do a version of the same thing for the same reason. Google has its own DNS service as well. But I am becoming less of a fan of handing over my Internet experience to a company that claims to “do no evil” but has been caught doing the exact opposite.

Thus I decided switch to the Level 3 public DNS servers. Level3 Communications is the company that provides most of the ISPs in the US their access to the Internet backbone. So, by using their public DNS servers, you will automatically route to the nearest DNS server operated by them and your access will be very fast.

Here are the address that you’ll need to enter into your router or onto your computer:

Primary DNS:

Secondary DNS:

Now if you need help changing the settings on your router or computer, try this link or drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do to help.

The Internet Access Gap In Education

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 3, 2013 by itnerd



Original Source:

Peeking Through The Great Firewall of China

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 18, 2013 by itnerd




Original Source:

Bill C-30: Is It Dead?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on May 15, 2012 by itnerd

John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail posted a very interesting article about Bill C-30 which was the bill that would have given the government the right to pretty much spy on Internet users in Canada without a warrant. It also started a crapstorm that created some embarrassment for Public Security Minister Vic Towes when details of his divorce was leaked by opponents of the bill. Ibbitson argues that this lead the Canadian Government to quietly kill the bill:

Normally, after a bill receives first reading, debate begins on second reading, which is approval in principle. Once the bill passes second reading, it goes to a committee, where only minor amendments are permitted before the bill returns for third and final reading.

Instead of this usual route, House Leader Peter Van Loan decided to send C-30 to the public safety committee first, where it is supposed to be extensively revised, before returning to the House for second and third reading.

But before any of that can happen, the rules state that the House must debate the motion to send the bill to committee. That debate must last at least five hours – in effect, one sitting day.

But that debate hasn’t happened. And sources report that it won’t happen before the House rises for summer recess. That makes C-30 dead in the water.

Of course, the Conservatives could decide to send C-30 it to the public safety committee in the autumn. But it would take months to rewrite the bill, and then weeks to get it through second and third reading, before the bill went to the Senate for further study.

Long before then, Stephen Harper is expected to prorogue Parliament in preparation for a new Throne Speech. With that prorogation, Bill C-30 will quietly expire.

So. The Canadian Government gets to press the reset button and doesn’t have to say sorry. Nice.

My advice? Canadians shouldn’t forget what this government tried to do and be vigilant as to what could come next. This bill could resurface in another form and bring the same negative intentions to the table. That would be bad. Thus make sure that your local MP knows that this bill should stay dead and buried.