Wireless Nomad vs. Sympatico High Speed

Wireless Nomad is a Toronto ISP that I’ve switched to for the reasons I’ve previously posted (the nutshell is that large ISPs are sketchy…). While I have too little time with Wireless Nomad to comment about the connectivity/up-time yet, let me take a moment to compare my old ISP (Sympatico) with my new one. Here’s a blow by blow comparison of the Wireless Nomad vs. Sympatico “High-speed” deets:

Connection speed: 2.7 mbs download / 720 kbs upload vs. 3.0 mbs down / 800 kbs up
(and I should point out, as I was informed of by Steve, who installed the hardware, Wireless Nomad has tweaked their connection speeds down to 2.7 and 720-in theory they have could have 3 and 800 too)
Round winner: Wireless Nomad, because a theoretical extra 300 kbs download speed is not worth the extra money I would have paid Sympatico and in practice the difference in speed is likely much less

Equipment Cost or Rental: $150 refundable deposit, no rental cost vs. no deposit and rental cost
Round Winner: Bit more of a toss-up: while you do need to pay the $150, you’re supposed to get it back when you cancel service, so it’s theoretically revenue neutral. Sympatico doesn’t require any deposit and does not charge a rental fee. Overall I would say it’s a tie between Sympatico and Wireless Nomad.

Price: $29.95+GST=$32.05 vs. $44.95+GST=$48.10 (a difference of $16.05 a month or $192.60 a year)
Round Winner: Wireless Nomad, no question.

Connection type: DSL (in my case, but can be wireless elsewhere) vs. DSL
Round Winner: Tie again between Sympatico and Wireless Nomad. Now if I had access to the wireless signal and could dump my home phone for VoIP, Wireless Nomad would win in my eyes.

Service Hours: Phone: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Monday-Saturday, Email: 24/7 (though I suspect it sits on a Sunday) vs. Phone: 24/7, Email: 24/7
Round Winner: While it would seem as though Sympatico is the clear winner here, given the extended hours of support, I would just offer that right now when I call the Wireless Nomad support number, a human answers the phone. That’s a huge benefit. But, being objective, if you need seamless support, Sympatico is the winner, if you like humans versus computers, Wireless Nomad seems to win. The caveat here is that I have little experience with Wireless Nomad when it comes to having problems or how quickly they’re able to fix em. Hopefully, I’ll never have to find out!

Installation: Free, Steve came to the apartment and set up, we booked an appointment over the phone for a week later at 2:00 pm and he arrived at 2:00 pm a week later. He also called me earlier in the week to confirm the time vs. Free, but everything arrives in the mail and you set it up yourself.
Round Winner: Wireless Nomad, no questions.

Email accounts & storage: 5 accounts, 100 mb email space, POP & IMAP vs. 11 accounts, 2 gb email space, POP
Round Winner: If you look at the numbers, Sympatico appears to be the winner, and Wireless Nomad wins by offering the best connectivity options, but everything is not always as it seems. IMHO, you shouldn’t use your ISP provided email address for your primary email address for the reason that if you ever leave the ISP, you’re FUBAR’d. It’s a way that ISPs lock you into their service. Get yourself a Gmail account (leave me a comment if you really want one but don’t have one yet) and call it even: tie between Wireless Nomad (for connectivity options) and Sympatico (for oodles of storage space).

Other reasons why I liked the idea of Wireless Nomad

You see, it’s a co-op, which appeals to my hippy, granola, MEC side that allows users to share others’ connections. In plain English, this means that I’m now able to go to any other member’s hotspot and get connected to the Internet and vice versa. It also means that all of the subscribers are co-op members and, in turn, owners of their connection to the Internet. This gets into larger questions of who should control access to the Internet, but I like the idea that it’s my connection, not Bell’s, Rogers’ or Shaw’s.

Wireless Nomad: The Story So Far

Made the switch today from Sympatico to a local (Toronto) co-op called Wireless Nomad. All that I can say is (fifteen minutes later) so far, so good.

The story so far:

With Katie moving out and Heather moving in, it seemed like a perfect time to (at least) look into switching ISP. Katie and I had Sympatico for the past two years, and while I’ve never had a problem with Sympatico, there appears to be a move with all the “big” ISP towards what has been called the two-tiered internet: in a nut-shell, large ISPs (including Rogers and Shaw) have “throttled” bandwidth so that certain programs have little or no connectivity. I find that problematic, and I don’t want to be a Sympatico customer when they decide to follow suit. In my experience, the large Canadian ISPs have folllowed each others’ lead when it has come to capping bandwidth and increasing speeds (of course, with the exception of Sympatico-part of the reason why I was happy with ’em) so I figure it’s a matter of time.

However, what I was really disappointed with was the cost per month to access Sympatico. We had signed up for “High Speed” and were paying ~$48.00 month, including tax. That works out to ~$576 a year: a chunk of change for a student. So, I decided that I wanted to at least look for an alternative ISP that would offer a similar connection speed, no bandwidth cap, no “throttling” of certain programs and, all for less money than I was currently paying.

Earlier in October, while surfing boingboing I read about a Toronto ISP that “encourages connection sharing“, which is a big no-no with Sympatico (and other ISPs too) since it effectivly means a reduction in subscribers. This ISP was (and still is) Wireless Nomad. So I checked out what they offered and their price, and I decided that this seemed like an excellent idea. Long story short: they installed the hardware today and Wireless Nomad is my new ISP.

I’m going to make a few more postings on this service as I know that friends are looking for alternatives to large ISPs and I’m the guinea pig.