Internet providers in Canada, what’s the difference?
As an Internet provider, we often get asked: Whose lines are you using? So, naturally, we say: Our own! And they say: Lies!
It’s a common misconception, but contrary to popular belief, big telcos aren’t the only Internet providers in Canada who own their Internet network and “everyone else is leasing their lines.”
So while we are happy to be an ally and lend our voice to Third-Party Internet Access (TPIA) providers – we think their fight for fair access to the Internet is important, and so we often share news in support of them (the enemy of the enemy is my friend?) – as a service, it’s not what we do and we think making that distinction is important.
So bear with us while we explain how it works, and what sets Rally apart…
Rally is a Facilities-Based Internet Provider.
Facilities-Based: These types of telecommunications entities do own or operate transmission facilities. (That’s us!)
Non-Facilities-Based: These are telecommunications entities that do not own or operate transmission facilities. (Such as resellers.)
tl;dr Rally is not a reseller.
We don’t pay wholesale fees to big telco.
The wholesale rates are paid by competitors to access large companies’ high-speed access networks in order to provide various services to their own customers, such as Internet, television or telephone services. This helps smaller providers who do not own high-speed access networks to provide services to Canadians.
So basically: Fees + Operating Costs + Profit = Price
The fees alone for top speeds are higher than our retail price. Rally invests our own money to build & install our own last-mile, and by doing that, we can set our own prices. We are not affected by the wholesale mandates or decisions. Our 1Gbps for $49.95/mo across the Greater Toronto Area is not a promo price, and it’s not going to slowly climb up to cover any fees – that is our retail rate, with no term or contract.
We can actually force the big guys to lower their prices.
Say you live in a condo building that only has two big providers, they will set the price standard. You will also have access to TPIA options because they are leasing those same lines in bulk and can offer you that discounted price – go for it, you’ll save money and be treated better, even if they have to send a portion of it back to the big guys.
Then Rally enters the building as a third, alternative Internet Provider, bringing our retail price of $49.95/mo as an option. Curious residents (we hope!) will switch and cancel their services with the big guys. When that happens, big telco will react and lower their price to match ours – even undercut it for a time, like 12 or 24 months – to retain their customers, and then slowly start lifting it up again, where ours will stay the same… frustratingly forcing you to have to call them annually to renegotiate your price.
(Usually, what they actually do is apply a credit amount off the top, but their base rate is always “subject to increase at any time”…sneaky.)
We call shenanigans when we see them.
We’ve been in the Internet business nearly 20 years and have been around the block a few times so we know the rules and all the tricks of the trade. When the Internet was new it was expensive, but technology has evolved and it’s really much more affordable to deliver now, trouble is, with their big marketing budgets and owning both the medium and the message, they’ve convinced some consumers that they still need to pay exorbitant prices in order to get fast, reliable service.
We strive to be transparent and explain that we are not a cheap Internet provider, we are FAIR, we can still make a profit and run a successful business without gouging people.
We read all the terms and don’t do all that sneaky fine print. There’s stuff we have to say, legally, but we don’t hide our real price or look for ways we can get out of giving you what we advertise. Our price is based on our cost to deliver service, so if you live in a Rally building in the GTA and we have fibre, it’s $49.95/mo with no extra fees. We do still have a small number of legacy DSL buildings, and in those locations, the retail price is $39.95/mo. And if you live in Edmonton, it costs us a bit more, so the retail price is $59.95/mo. That’s it, that’s the price.
We typically only run promotions when someone first signs up, but everyone gets the same deal – like your first month is always free – so you can try us risk-free and we can earn your trust. You also don’t have to keep checking our website for better offers because we won’t treat new customers better. In every case, everything is included in the price.
(A little humblebrag, but earlier this year as we were all coming out of the pandemic, we were able to lower our retail price, and applied the new price to anyone who had signed up at a higher rate! If you ever DO happen to see a promotion you did not get, just let us know and we’ll make sure you get it too!)
We offer Gigabit (up to 1000Mbps) Symmetrical FTTH Service.
This is not a pitch, but it’s an important distinction because true end-to-end Fibre-To-The-Home is not available for resale. Only DSL (phone) and Coaxial (cable) to the home is mandated, neither offers symmetrical speeds. Fighter or Flanker brands (smaller entities that are owned by big telco that operate under another banner in order to combat true competitors) once only used for mobile, ventured into becoming Internet providers as well, and are now starting to offer lower fibre speeds, but it’s all the same as big telco.
TPIA might have something called “Hybrid-Fibre” or refer to FTTN, or FTTB meaning it’s fibre to the neighbourhood, node, or to the building, then the last-mile is shared copper or cable.
Rally offers gigabit Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) using dedicated fibre lines we installed ourselves directly into a customers suite. We own our last-mile, and since this is not a service big telco is mandated to provide to others, they don’t.
(It’s currently up for discussion, but not as yet mandated so the incumbents do not offer it for resale to third-parties. If it does become available in the future, it’s up to the CRTC but you can bet big telco will fight it tooth and nail.)
We have limited availability.
Unfortunately, you can’t just sign up with us unless you live in a “Rally Building” because deploying fibre involves getting access agreements, construction permits, contracts, inspections, working under streets and paying for links, we take all this cost on ourselves so one house line = one customer, whereas with condos, one line = hundreds of customers, maximizing our reach.
We have to turn people away because they live out of our network and can only service those condominium buildings where we have access agreements with the Condo Board and have installed our own infrastructure, whereas a TPIA can sign you up as a customer just about anywhere big telco is because they are using the existing infrastructure, including condominiums and houses.
We have our own technicians and 24/7 support.
Rally has our own data centre, team of network operators, field technicians and 24/7/365 technical support that monitors and maintains our own network internally.
Canadians have been treated poorly by telecoms for so long, they’ll call in after readying themselves for a fight – but it won’t happen. Treating you with kindness and respect is at the core of our business. Our super friendly team is made up of highly trained technical experts so the person who answers the phone, email or chat can check your service and provide technical support – even in the middle of the night.
You’ll probably get better customer service from a TPIA compared to big telco, because they actually care about your business, and there is a lot they can do to help, but there could be limited hours or longer wait times as they may have to escalate issues to big telco for resolution.
(It can take a while to hear back as their issues are not prioritized over their own direct customers.)
Competitors keep big telco in check.
“Independent” has become a bit of a misnomer. For ISPs, it generally means anyone who is not owned by THEM.
Because the current system in Canada favours the oligopoly, it’s almost impossible for any Internet Provider to never have to deal with the big guys. We do have working relationships with them out of necessity, but we have a bit more flexibility to limit our actual dependence.
The Internet is a big network of networks, and when the Internet as we know it came to be, big telco were the biggest TV and Phone operators of the time, so they had the means and resources to build out the infrastructure under streets. This was partially funded by tax payers, but they got a sweet deal in being able to maintain control over it for a long time… that is, until the government told them they had to open it up to everyone, in the spirit of “competition” and because we all helped pay for it, they couldn’t own it outright.
The main infrastructure under the streets is mandated to be used by everyone, big or small. Though they do still maintain control over the majority of it, big telco is required to give everyone access, even competitors, whether they like it or not (and they do not)… if you really start to be a thorn in their side, they have other ways to deal with that.
Because of this nuance, during the Rogers Outage, a small number of our customers were impacted. They were back online by the end of the same day, whereas some TPIA customers may have gone for days because big telco prioritized their direct customers first.
Typically, when we have had a network issue it has been due to outside forces, like a line being damaged accidentally by another provider, or a main line being cut during construction in the area. When that happens, everyone involved has to work together to fix it and whoever caused it has to pay for the damages, which is then used to credit affected customers.
Canadians have a right to fast, reliable and affordable Internet
Rally is a Canadian-owned and operated independent Internet Service Provider. We aren’t trying to hide or be sneaky about anything we do, or gloss over the details to create confusion. We aren’t big telco in disguise (if you’re old enough to remember the Cola Wars, we like to think of ourselves as the UnCola) and we aren’t TPIA either, but we are still working within the system we’ve got which while severely broken, we’re always trying to bring change from within. If we make a mistake, we own it and do whatever we can to make it right
A telecom with a conscience? Yes, really.
Our tag line is Take Back The Internet, we think there is room for everyone in the industry to ensure Canadians are able to have ISP CHOICE. The Internet is an essential service, and it’s yours, so we believe you are entitled to fair and affordable access to it.
To request our services be added to your building, get in touch with your Property Manager and Condo Board, we’ll need their permission to do a technical assessment of your building to see if it’s a good fit for fibre, you can also let us know who to talk to by registering as a Rally Champ!
As always, if you have any questions about our services, or how we operate, or want to learn how to get Rally fibre added as an alternative Internet Provider in your building, we’re always here and happy to answer your questions!
Let’s Rally together for a FAIR alternative.
Rally is a facilities-based Internet Service Provider based in Toronto, Canada with more than 20 years experience serving Canadians with leading-edge broadband solutions on our own our own independent fibre network. Rally is a proud member of CNOC, Competitive Network Operators of Canada.
More answers to your questions can be found in our FAQ.