radial point

Bell Internet

Bell Internet, originally and frequently called Sympatico, is the residential internet service provider division of Bell Canada. It is affiliated with MSN. As of March 2006, Bell Internet had over 2 million subscribers in Ontario and Quebec and is the largest ADSL ISP in Canada..


Sympatico was launched on November 29, 1995. Originally a national service operated jointly by Canada's ILECs and operational run as a content portal by MediaLinx, the companies other than Bell (including Aliant) have since retreated to their own brands. Bell subsidiaries NorthernTel, Télébec and Northwestel continue to brand their internet services as Sympatico, and users receive an,, or email address, respectively.

Starting in Summer 2003, Sympatico tried to differentiate its service from its competitors by adding Radial Point's (formerly Zero Knowledge) suite of antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware services for extra charge. 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 In April, 2008 all users and resalers started being throttled, many have questioned the legality of this; this dispute is still being solved.

Bell Sympatico changed its name to Bell Internet on August 8, 2008.


Bell Internet offers many tiers of service based on two different kinds of technology: Dial Up service, based on telephone modem equipment as well as DSL services, based on ADSL 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.

Three other Bell Internet services are also offered:

  • Bell WiMAX Unplugged service is a portable wireless service that is part of the Inukshuk Inc. project. The project aims to provide broadband Internet access to underserved areas across Canada.
  • Total Internet Max service is a residential Internet service provided through a fiber optic network currently offering download speeds of up to 16 Mbit/s. These services currently have a limited availability however service expansion is ongoing.
  • Bell Internet IPTV service is a planned TV over IP service. Scheduled for release somewhere in 2008.

Value-Added Services (VAS)

These are services offered by Bell Internet in addition to the above services for additional costs. Some of the packages come by default, billing unaware customers.


Project Cleanfeed Canada

In November 2006, to address the problem of the accidental access to child pornography sites, especially by those under the age of majority, Bell, Bell Aliant, MTS Allstream, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Telus, and Vidéotron, in conjunction with (a nationwide tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children), announced the creation of Project Cleanfeed Canada, an initiative designed to block access to child pornography sites. It is based on a similar program introduced by British Telecom in 2004. Project Cleanfeed Canada uses an encrypted blacklist of known child-pornography sites operating outside the country and targets only those sites that offer images of prepubescent children.

However, some critics denounce the initiative, saying that this amounts to nothing more than internet censorship. Others argue that it is a risk worth taking.

Bandwidth throttling

Users of bandwidth that Bell Internet deem excessive have been sent warning letters that state they are in violation of their Service Agreement and Acceptable Use Policy. As a result their use of peer to peer programs is traffic managed during peak hours. Some have questioned the legality of this(including notable companies such as Google and Skype).

As of April 7 2008, Bell has begun using deep packet inspection to identify and throttle all BitTorrent traffic across its network, regardless of actual bandwidth use. It has been revealed that users get slowed down to almost half the dial up speed when downloading any material of BitTorrent. This also affects its DSL resellers(including Teksavvy, a supporter of net neutrality), who have filed a formal complaint to the CRTC. Critics claim Bell's move stifles competition, violates net neutrality, and discriminates against legitimate uses of the BitTorrent protocol.

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