|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2011)|
|Industry||Internet Service Provider|
|Founded||November 29, 1995|
|Products||xDSL, WiMax and dial-up|
Bell Internet, originally and frequently still called Sympatico, is the residential Internet service provider (ISP) division of Bell Canada. As of May 3, 2012, Bell Internet has over 3 million subscribers in Ontario and Quebec, making it the largest ISP in Canada.
Sympatico was launched on November 29, 1995. Originally a national service operated jointly by Canada's incumbent local exchange carriers and operational run as a content portal by MediaLinx, the companies other than Bell (including Aliant) have since retreated to their own brands.
Starting in Summer 2003, Sympatico tried to differentiate its service from its competitors by adding value-added services. This meant the launch of Radial Point's (formerly Zero Knowledge) suite of antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware services. Although a fee was originally required, this is no longer the case, as Bell now provides the service at no extra charge for DSL customers. In 2004, Sympatico added a wireless modem-router hardware upgrade and Microsoft's MSN Premium software to its portfolio. In Summer 2007, Sympatico packaged its Security suite and wireless home networking modem together with its high speed offering as Sympatico Total Internet.
Bell Sympatico changed its name to Bell Internet on August 8, 2008, in conjunction with the Today Just Got Better rebranding. Bell subsidiaries NorthernTel, Télébec and Northwestel continue to brand their Internet services as Sympatico, and users receive an @ntl.sympatico.ca, @tlb.sympatico.ca, or @sympatico.ca email address, respectively.
On January 3, 2012, customer advocacy blog Stop The Cap! reported that Bell lowered its bandwidth caps in Ontario and Quebec by 10 GB for all new activations of its Fibe services, except for the Fibe 25 plan in Ontario which was lowered by 25 GB instead and Fibe 6 and 7 which remain unchanged. In May 2012, Bell launched new fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) plans and simplified its slower DSL plans. FTTH regions can now download and upload at symmetric speeds of up to 175 Mbit/s. The previous changes for lower bandwidth caps were reverted for the new Fibe 15/1 and Fibe 25/7 plans. The Fibe 5/1 plan replaced the older Essential, Essential Plus, Fibe 6 and Fibe 7 plans. The bandwidth cap for Fibe 5/1, however, was lowered from 25 GB to 15 GB.
The Fibe 50/50 FTTH plan was removed from Bell's website by February 2013. In its place, a Fibe 50/10 FTTN plan was made available for the first time. During that same month, usage caps for the 15/10, 25/10 and 50/10 plans were lowered by 15, 25 and 75 GB respectively. February also saw the addition of an unlimited Internet usage add-on for Bell Internet. It costs $30/month and can be added to any residential plan. Those who subscribe to telephony (Bell Mobility or Bell Home Phone) and residential television (Bell Satellite TV or Bell Fibe TV) from Bell can obtain a $20/month discount on the unlimited Internet usage add-on.
When Bell started its DSL Internet service, then known as Sympatico, it simply offered one DSL modem, which connected to only one computer. Later, it added more models with routing and wireless LAN capabilities built-in, eliminating the need to purchase additional hardware. Customers previously had to pay extra for such capabilities. Today, both of these features are standard in both all-in-one devices Bell lends to its customers. Standard DSL customers must rent Bell's 2Wire 2701HG-G device, which can create 802.11g wireless access point. VDSL customers consist of any service with more than 1 Mbit/s of upload speed, and they must rent the Cellpipe router 802.11n-capable device instead, which also bundles a superior DSL modem.
|Bell DSL Internet modems|
While Bell Internet mostly sells digital subscriber line (DSL) service, they also offer dial-up service to businesses and grandfathered residential customers. This legacy technology uses a telephone modem to provide Internet access.
Bell's digital subscriber line (DSL) services are based on ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL2 technology. The main differences in both equipments vary from the speed of signal, its length and its ability to overcome the noise of a phone line. Except for very few grandfathered customers, Bell has monthly data transfer limits for all of their tiered Internet services. Both downloads and uploads count towards the limit. The following Bell Internet services are only available in Ontario and Quebec, and availability varies by region. Fibe services can only be used where fiber-to-the-neighbourhood (FTTN) technology is deployed. This currently includes urban Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
On May 8, 2012, Bell has simplified its FTTN DSL lineup to offer only three plans. The service offerings are as follows:
|Service||Download speed||Upload speed||Monthly bandwidth limits||Over Usage Charge|
|Fibe 5/1||N/A||5 Mbit/s||680 kbit/s||1 Mbit/s||15 GB||$2.50/GB|
|Fibe 15/10||10 Mbit/s||15 Mbit/s||10 Mbit/s||75 GB||$2/GB|
|Fibe 25/10||N/A||25 Mbit/s||3 Mbit/s||125 GB||$1.50/GB|
|Fibe 50/10||46 Mbit/s||50 Mbit/s||9 Mbit/s||250 GB||$1.00/GB|
In regions where FTTN is unavailable, a plan called "Bell Internet 5" is available. It is similar to the "Fibe 5/1" plan, but uses traditional DSL instead of FTTN DSL. Upload speeds are limited to 800 kbit/s.
Fiber To The Home (FTTH) Internet services are offered by Bell in select Fibe regions. Bell guarantees that the symmetric FTTH download and upload speeds advertised will be delivered. Two speed tiers are offered: one with 50 Mbit/s speeds, and another with 175 Mbit/s speeds.
Naked DSL, commonly known as dry DSL in Canada, consists of a DSL service without a traditional home phone service. Bell charges an additional $4 per month for dry DSL service, but this fee is waived if the customer also has at least one other Bell service such as Bell Mobility or Bell TV. Bell charges resellers a monthly fee ranging from $7.25 to $25.10 and a one-time activation fee for dry DSL service. Although Bell still attributes a phone number to a dry DSL line, it cannot be used for phone calls. When one attempts to call a dry DSL phone number, they receive the following message: "The number you are calling cannot receive incoming calls. This is a recording. Le poste que vous appelez ne peut recevoir d'appels. C'était un message enregistré."
Since April 11, 2013, Bell offers McAfee Security on all of its current Internet plans. It is a complete security suite and this complimentary offering is known as the Good tier. Customers can also upgrade to the Better tier for family and mobile protection options, or they can choose the Best tier to add Home Network Defence, SiteAdvisor Live, encrypted storage and all the Better tier options.
These are services offered by Bell Internet in addition to DSL or FTTH services, either for free or at additional costs:
Bell previously offered Portable Internet and Rural Internet services in select rural regions, similarly to what Rogers Communications offered. These services used the Inukshuk Wireless network. Bell is discontinuing these offerings. Customers are encouraged to use Bell Mobility Internet services instead, which generally offer a much lower bandwidth cap.
Bell Entertainment was a bundle offer which included Bell Fibe TV service and 25 Mbit/s "Fibe" DSL. It was only available in some parts of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Customers can now add any DSL Internet plan to their Fibe TV service. Despite being an IPTV service, Bell does not charge usage-based billing for Bell Fibe TV.
Personal Vault was a backup service, available nationwide both for customers and non-customers.
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