I’m feeling pretty good about how I stay in touch with people these days. I switched from Bell to Cogeco for Internet last year, and that has been great. With Bell, I was getting crappy customer service and a DSL line that was dropping out about once per day. My download speeds started out at about 3Mbps when I signed up, but dropped to 1.5Mbps by the time I quit. In the numerous times I called Bell, they didn’t seem that interested in helping me resolve the problems. Eventually I got fed up. The Cogeco service cost the same, and was advertised at 5Mbps, so I switched. From day one I was getting that speed, and more importantly, it’s been much more reliable than Bell.

Today Cogeco announced upgrades on their Internet services. Instead of a 15GB per month transfer limit, they’ve boosted it to 60GB per month. They’ve also increased the download speeds to 7Mbps, although for the last two weeks I’ve been getting closer to 9 or 10Mbps. And you know how much more they’re charging for this? Nothing!

I know the broadband market is an extremely competitive one, and margins are very slim. I like Cogeco’s strategy of showing its customers a little respect and fairness to keep us on board. Cogeco is now providing standard Internet service at a higher level of performance than Bell’s much more expensive premium product, which tops out at a maximum of 6Mbps. This reminds me of Canon’s strategy of constantly pushing the limits of digital SLRs both in features and in pricing so that competitors simply can’t keep up. To me, growing profits by building an economy of scale is a smarter way to to go than than nickle and diming every individual customer.

On the cell phone side of things, I’ve switched away from Telus and gone to Bell instead. Oddly, Bell’s mobile division offered me exactly what I needed. I’m so happy to get my bills now and see that I’m paying 30% less than I did with Telus, and getting far more. I don’t feel like the clock is ticking every time I pick up my mobile phone. When dealing with Bell in the past, I’ve often felt that one hand has no idea what the other is doing. Trying to resolve my customers’ issues with Bell Internet connectivity is an exercise in futility. After being put on hold, transferred back and forth between four or five departments, only to end up talking to the first department you called, can really make your blood pressure skyrocket. Dealing with Bell for residential and business telephone accounts has been equally frustrating. They tried to tell me once that I had signed a two year contract for business phone services when I knew that I was moving after a year. The penalty was that I’d have to pay for an entire year of phone service to get out of it. Right. After challenging them on that, they finally conceded that they had no record of me signing any contract. Is it any wonder that Bell’s landline customers are fleeing like rats from a burning ship to sign up with telephone services from their cable companies? I don’t think anyone except Bell is surprised.

I still have Bell as my home phone provider, but only because I already have switched my business line to VOIP from Primus, and I don’t want to have two VOIP lines on one Internet connection. I also use the home number to send faxes, because that’s one thing VOIP is not so good for. I certainly don’t use Bell’s long distance service. The extremely innovative JaJah is an amazing alternative to traditional long distance telephone service.

The mystery to me is Bell Mobility. Dealing with Bell Mobility has been a pleasure. Nothing has screwed up, nothing has gotten complicated, and the price is right too. Maybe Bell should shake hands with itself? One hand can probably learn something from the other. Despite my dislike for Bell, I hope it can get its act together. Competition is good for everyone.