First published on February 23, 2009
February 2011 update: I have now switched back to Telus for my Internet needs. As much as I wanted to continue with Lightspeed, I had the impression that Lightspeed had no desire to improve their customer service or product.
In searching for a residential Internet service provider in Metro Vancouver, one of my main goals was to avoid Shaw and Telus. At the very least, I could inform others as to whether there is actually a viable alternative. Plus, all of the other residents in my building use one of “the big two”, so I had a bit of a backup plan there.
As it turns out, so far so good (about a month and a half in) with Lightspeed Internet Communications. Note that I signed up for its Internet and phone bundle for just over $50 per month after tax, so I’ll review its phone service in another post. Note that Lightspeed does not provide television service (although it’s good on your wallet and time to go without cable TV anyway).
Lightspeed’s Internet service on its own as of February 2009 is $34.90 per month plus tax on a month-to-month basis. This is a couple of dollars cheaper per month if you sign up for a contract. The price includes a $4.95 system access fee since Telus unfortunately owns all the wiring. Thankfully Lightspeed is not Telus, as it has its own network and customer support. The price is comparable to Shaw or Telus’s prices after you read through the big two’s promo and contract junk. To use Lightspeed’s ADSL Internet service, you must have either an existing landline phone (a VoIP line with Shaw does not count); or pay a $10 CRTC monthly fee; or bundle it with Lightspeed’s VoIP phone service for $10 per month (which is what I did).
The speed that I get with Lightspeed is consistently over 2.5Mbps for downloads and 850kbps for uploads, no matter what time of day it is. Divide those numbers by 8 to get the more user-friendly speed in bytes instead of bits. The total monthly upload and download bandwidth limit is a combined 200gb.
Here are my general notes about Lightspeed, for which I hope to be using for many years:
- Setup is free, but you will have to get temporary access to your phone room (or equivalent box) for the owner of the wiring (typically Telus) to do a one-time test on the line.
- I have not had any connection issues except for the weekend after I first signed up, when I had to reboot the modem several times before the connection started working again many hours later. I have yet to figure out what the problem was.
- You do not get a free modem. You must either purchase one for $60 from them (plus an ATA if you are using their phone service) or you can use an existing DSL modem if you have one or can get one for cheaper elsewhere.
- Phone support during their business hours is great as I have always had a live person answer the phone immediately.
- E-mail support has been either speedy or non-responsive. I had good success following up via phone.
- If you’re in a condo that is outfitted with several Ethernet outlets, you can’t use them unless you’re with Shaw. So you’ll have to rely on your router. Remember that while ADSL doesn’t interfere with your phone service, it uses your phone lines.
- For the techies: Lightspeed doesn’t force me to use their own SMTP server for sending e-mails. You might see this is a good or bad thing. I see this as a good thing.
- The Lightspeed website could really use an update. However, the money they would spend on marketing is theoretically being used to maintain and improve their service… I hope.
Overall, Lightspeed is a good service with friendly, responsive employees who know their product. It is not blazing fast for those people who download 10 movies concurrently via torrents, but then again I’d be happy if my fellow Lightspeed customers aren’t doing that anyway. Lightspeed has provided a reliable, fast Internet connection at all hours for my personal and work needs and is an alternative to Shaw and Telus that you should consider.