A Change in ISP’s

After years of supporting Carrytel as my home Internet Service Provider, the new year has brought a new provider into my home due mainly to the proprietary approach Bell Canada (Virgin Plus) has taken to surpassing the traditional limits of VDSL2+ technology on copper lines. Unfortunately I am not one of the lucky Canadians that has the benefit of fibre optic lines directly into their home, so I was quite interested to learn about “pair bonding” technology, and with the help of a seasonal promotion, I decided to make the switch.

I’m generally averse to using any company which delivers their network access over coaxial cable lines (Rogers, Cogeco, and any other number of independent resellers). The reasons being that their lines pool bandwidth on the copper lines with your neighbours (my understanding is that the actual copper lines act much like an Ethernet hub would). So this view eliminated most of the competition that could deliver speeds faster than 50Mbps down / 10Mbps up.

With the twisted-pair telephone lines, so long as the other end of your phone line out on the street has fibre into the utility cabinet, you have a dedicated slice of bandwidth for your specific connection. Practically speaking, this means that your total available bandwidth is far more consistent than a service that might see degradation of speed or network quality during peak hours. However, this has traditionally placed a limit on the speed of your connection (depending on your home’s distance to the fibre node on the street, and the VDSL technology itself), and is normally only provisioned as a high as 50Mbps down, 10Mbps up. Bell/Virgin’s pair-bonded service (using two separate twisted pair lines / remember homes that used to have more than one telephone line?) achieves a download speed of 100Mbps down, 10Mbps up. In speaking with the installing technician, he pointed out that the line quality was high enough to technically achieve a speed of close to 160Mbps, and 40Mbps down.

For those that are as interested as I was, feel free to jump down the rabbit hole of learning just how the variety of DSL technologies actually work (Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Wikipedia). It’s a fascinating read, and one which I actually establishes an impressive amount of continuity from the early days of high speed internet access.

Surely this service will soon become a relic as more and more homes are outfitted with fibre service directly into the premises. In the mean time, however, I’ll enjoy the faster speed, and marvel at just how much information can be squeezed through (two) tiny pairs of copper wire.

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