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2011 Hero: TekSavvy

Nominated for: taking on communications bullies.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.

It’s hard not to come off as heroic when your main competitors act like cruel and vindictive schoolyard bullies—you know, the ones that threaten you into giving up your lunch money, and then beat you up anyway just for shits and giggles. (To make this analogy fully work the teacher would also have to be friends with the bullies’ moms or something, thus giving them free reign over the playground—more on that in a minute.)

In the Canadian broadband world, TekSavvy, the Chatham-based Internet wholesaler (in Toronto they mostly rent infrastructure from Bell and Rogers) is just another little guy on the playground. Sure, their cause isn’t entirely altruistic—they want to make money too—but when it comes to what’s best for consumers, they actually seem to give a damn.

What’s sad is that things weren’t always so bad. We didn’t always need a white knight. Not too long ago, Canada was considered a broadband leader. Now we boast some of the slowest and most expensive Internet access in the developed world.

The problem, according to watchdogs, journalists, customer advocates, and just about everyone else who isn’t Rogers, Bell, Telus, or the CRTC, is the incestuous relationship between aforementioned telcoms and their so-called “regulator.” As the Globe and Mail‘s Hugh Thompson writes, “Rather than ensuring consumers receive fair Internet pricing, the CRTC seems content to line the pockets of Cable and telecommunications companies by forcing Canadian consumers to pay Internet data rates that have no basis in reality.”

So what makes TekSavvy different? Well, to start, the wholesaler prides itself on providing transparent, contract-free pricing options and decent customer service, instead of confusing bundles, locked-in contacts, and generally mind-blowingly dismal tech support. They’ve also been strong advocates for net neutrality, unencumbered over-the-top content, more robust competition, and greater industry transparency, while rejecting and arguing against throttling, bandwidth caps, excessive vertical integration, and usage-based billing (UBB).

Recently, the CRTC, after taking heat from Canadians and the federal government, made the decision not to support UBB at the wholesaler level. A clear win for TekSavvy, right? Don’t worry, the CRTC isn’t turning its back on the big telecoms just yet. The decision’s wildly inflated rate structure will still allow the big boys to continue to gouge and stifle competition.

Torontonians, we’re big Internet users, and as debate over the future of Canada’s Internet continues, it’s nice to know that at least one ISP has our back.


  • Anonymous

    I switched to TekSavvy 4 years ago and, with the exception of Bell’s meddling (which they’ve now announced an end to, as of March 2012) I haven’t had a reason to complain. I discovered them through Canadian ISP locator. Want things to change in Canada? Support the little guys.

  • Kathy Vee

    When I signed on with TekSavvy, Rogers made it very difficult to get everything installed. I had a Rogers cable (I have Rogers cable TV) lying on the floor and was switching from a small internet company to TekSavvy. The technician walks in and announces he will have to drill a hole through the house in order to hook up the internet. Told me he couldn’t use the cable that was on the floor because Rogers wouldn’t allow that unless I was switching from Rogers Internet to TekSavvy. It was a major WTF moment. I called TekSavvy who’d never heard of something so stupid plus I got a call from Rogers confirming my cancellation of the technicians visit. A week later (including 4 days minus internet) a technician came in an spliced the cable – which is what should’ve been done in the first place. TekSavvy kept trying to help through the entire week long ordeal and I kept telling them that I KNEW Rogers was c***-blocking them, so I really wasn’t mad at them (I spent well over 4 hours of my time talks with reps). I’ve had TekSavvy for almost two months now and couldn’t be happier.

    • Ry

      I had the exact opposite experience. I drilled a hole into my house to help convince the tech I need a new line (the existing one was cracked and crumbling), and he said that your with Teksavvy, you should be paying extra for this. In the end, he did put a new line into the house, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have if I didn’t already had the hole drilled in the first place.

  • trix

    Teksavvy would be great if they were able to service all areas of the city.
    Being with Bell for over 15 years and tired of their service (or lack, thereof), I really, really, really wanted to switch to Teksavvy for cable.
    Living at Yonge & Finch, I figured that I’d be right in the hot zone.
    Apparently not.
    So, I’m still with Bell, paying $25 a month for my internet service that offers me 62GB a month and decent speeds.
    Step it up, Teksavvy. Seriously.

    • Anonymous

      Just curious, but what was the reason given? It was my understanding that as long as you have phone lines, TekSavvy can service you. I have Dry Loop DSL with them, which means I have a phone line connection (Bell) but it isn’t activated for regular voice service, just internet.

  • wyrm

    I switched to TekSavvy around the time Bell started openly throttling my ‘net connection and lying about it, and I have absolutely no complaints – TS has been fantastic. Highly recommended.

    • Shred

      Yeah TS is great until they go down. And then they go down hard, since the guys they are renting the infrastructure from (Rogers) arent exactly rushing to fix the issue.

      Im one of many on the Bloor POI that have been without the internet for several weeks now, and there is nothing TS can do about it as all they can do is submit tickets to Rogers.

      Nice company, but totally strangled by the fuck heads further up the line.

  • KM

    Many of us in Toronto have been without TekSavvy internet for over a week now, making this a rather dismal holiday for those of us who have to now work from the office or from Starbucks. They said that they won’t be able to send someone out until Friday, which is unacceptable.

    Don’t switch to TekSavvy if you rely on a solid internet connection and prompt support.

  • Mike

    Now on my 7th day without Internet service and I’m getting really tired of TekSavvy being able to do nothing but say that it’s Rogers fault. Seriously looking at other options even if it means paying more to have service.

  • Suilobo

    No cable Internet from Teksavvy since Dec 22nd.

  • Paul

    Don’t forget Acanac, apart from customer service, it’s in par with TekSavvy