Start Communications – A viable alternative to the Large ISP Oligopoly in Ontario

Wow!  It’s been a good 6 months since I have had the time to sit down and write a blog post. Between  2 babies under the age of two at home and work,  my personal blog got no love. Last September right before this blog went silent,  I e-interviewed Peter Rocca the President & CEO of Start Communications and I am quite embarrassed it has taken me so long to publish!

Even though I  have worked at two large telcos that provide Internet, I passionately support small business whenever possible. I prefer to support alternative internet and mobile phone providers due to the unfair consumer practices of the big Telcos.  The large ISP oligopoly has been hampering fair access to high speed internet for Canadians and a Macleans writer went as far as to say that the current competitive landscape means that Canadians have the equivalent of “third world Internet Access”.

I bought my wife a cell phone from Wind and I signed up for Start Communications cable internet since I am a big fan of small companies that offer competitive products at fair prices. For Internet, Start offered the best combination of price and speed that I could find in Oakville.   For $49.95 a month they provide 30 Mbps internet down and 2 Mbps upload with 200 GB of bandwidth   Even as a moderately heavy and tech savvy user using Bit-torrent and Netflix I usually only download 30 GB a month and the most I have ever used is 110 GB so the Start limit is more than enough for me.

Their customer support is local to Ontario and the staff has proven to be much more knowledgeable than the outsourced staff I dealt with when subscribed to a small DSL ISP and much better than the unqualified support at the large incumbent ISPs that read off scripts.

Start Communications great service at an unbeatable price led me to convince my in-laws to switch from their Big ISP to Start since they had been regularly overcharged and subject to some unfair billing practices.  The great price and after sales service led me to become an advocate for Start.

Below you’ll find my interview with Start Communications President Peter Rocca who is leading the battle to provide Canadians with affordable and fast internet:

Q1) Why should customers choose Start  Communications over a Rogers, Bell or Cogeco for Internet Service?

A1)      We find customers choose us over the big incumbent players for a number of reasons. Some come to us because of our reputation for exceptional support, some come for the lower pricing and others because we offer a competitive alternative with higher usage limits than the media companies provide – allowing ample use of Netflix or Youtube. While we offer a higher-value product at a better cost, it’s really the support that differentiates ourselves and keeps customers with us for the long-haul.

Q2.)   I hadn’t heard of Start until a few weeks before I signed up for service in the summer of 2012. How long have you been around and who can get your service?

A2)      We’ve been offering internet services since the mid-90’s and provide services to the majority of Ontarians.

Q3.)  I noticed that some zipcodes have 18 Mbps service and others have 28 Mbps for the same 49.99 price. Why is that the case?

A3)      There are a number of different vendors we contract with to access to the coaxial cable or telephone lines that run into customer homes. The speed of the packages can differ due to technical or costing differences between the suppliers we work with and generally will match the speeds offered by the cable/telephone company that are available in the same area.

Q4.) How does your team use social media?

A4.)      As an online pioneer, social media has been a very important part of our evolution. We use it every day to stay engaged with our customers in online communities — answering questions about our services, providing technical support and account assistance, as well as keeping customers updated with new developments as they become available.

Q5.) Do you think we’ll see independent IPTV  from companies such as yours in Canada?

A5)      Independent servers providers such as ourselves have often been catalysts in the advancement of new products and services such as VoIP and IPTV. There are some current regulatory challenges we’re working through with the CRTC, but we’re an adaptive industry and consumers will continue to see alternative options for services such as television and phone.

Q6.) What has been your companies biggest challenge or hurdle? Does the CRTC help the big guys or the little guys? 

A6)      One of the biggest challenges has been operating in an industry where your largest suppliers are also your direct competitors. In the past couple of years many independent providers have come together to form an organization known as the Canadian Network Operators Consortium or CNOC. We’re proud to be a part of this important organization and have worked heavily with the CRTC to promote an understanding of our industry. In a relatively short period of time we’ve seen some positive decisions from the Commission benefiting Canadians and I am optimistic that they will continue to serve consumers by creating a sustainable framework for competitive services in Canada.

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One response to “Start Communications – A viable alternative to the Large ISP Oligopoly in Ontario

  1. 30 gigs is a medium light user, not moderately heavy.

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