TekSavvy and SpeakOut: My Alternatives to Rogers and Bell

September 9, 2008 Comments

I'm always looking for a better deal when it comes to my utility bills. In Ontario, it seems like there aren't many choices when it comes to telephone, television, wireless, and internet service. Either you sign up with Bell or you sign up with Rogers. At least that's what their advertising campaigns would like you to think.

There are, however, good alternatives that will save you a few dollars per month. Here are the companies I'm using instead of the "Big Two".

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

I'm using an ISP based in Chatham, Ontario called TekSavvy Solutions. TekSavvy rents DSL lines from Bell to provide internet service to its customers. I have a Dry Loop DSL line with TekSavvy, which means the phone line coming into my house is only used for DSL service. There is no phone number associated with the line.

TekSavvy takes care of all the billing. I only pay a bill to TekSavvy and they pay Bell for the DSL line. The connection to the internet is completely independent from Bell's connection. TechSavvy maintains their own backbone connection via Cogent and Peer1. The total cost for TekSavvy internet is $38/month.

Wireless Cell Phone Service

Just this month I switched my wireless phone service from Fido to SpeakOut. SpeakOut is a prepaid GSM provider that is offered by 7-Eleven. I like SpeakOut because there aren't any hidden daily charges or System Access Fees - just a flat 20¢/minute. The minutes don't expire for an entire year - and you don't lose them as long as you purchase more minutes before they expire.

Virgin Mobile is another good alternative for wireless phone service, but they're not GSM based - meaning you can't just switch SIM cards and have your phone work on a network in another country.

Television Service

I'm not a fan of being forced to watch advertisements when I'm paying for a service. I feel that I shouldn't be subjected to advertising interruptions if I'm spending money to watch something. That said, paying for cable television service is a non-starter for me.

I still feel it is important to pay for professional entertainment - the actors/producers/writers/etc deserve to be paid for a job well done - especially if that means they'll keep producing the shows that I like. So, instead of paying for television service, I choose to pay for my shows À la carte by using services like Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Video on Demand. I feel this is a good alternative because I'm still contributing to the shows I like, but I'm not forced to watch advertisements and all the other junk on cable.

Telephone Service

I always enjoy when the big "land-line" phone companies call me up and try to sell me their phone service. They usually spend about five minutes rambling on about how good their prices are, without even taking a breath so I can stop them and save their time. After the five minute spiel they always ask the same question, "May I ask how much you are currently paying for telephone service?" To which I answer "$15/month, including 500 minutes of long distance, voice mail and call display." Which usually gets the response "Uhhhh. Oh. Thanks, have a nice day (click)" from the sales person. They just can't compete with Vonage. I've been a very happy Vonage customer since 2002. I have the occasional dropouts due to my sometimes flaky internet access (I can use my cell phone in those cases), but when my ISP is reliable the service has been exceptional.

Do you have any other alternatives to Rogers and Bell? Please tell me about them in the comments.