Is Bell Canada Going To Purposely Screw Up GPS Signals To Harm Competitors?

from the get-lost dept

It’s good to have market power, apparently. Remember how Bell Canada started throttle bandwidth to its reseller partners without telling them? And then told them to shut up and take it when they complained? Oh, right, and then tried launching its own video download store just as it was making it more difficult for anyone else’s to work? Apparently, the company may be doing that again… Michael Geist points us to reports that Bell Canada is looking to purposely degrade the GPS signal on certain Blackberrys for anyone using third party mapping programs, such as Google’s. However (wouldn’t you know it?), Bell is promising to allow the GPS to work properly if you pay the company $10/month and use Bell’s own mapping solution.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: bell canada

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Is Bell Canada Going To Purposely Screw Up GPS Signals To Harm Competitors?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Me says:

Really what else is new

What else is new verizon will do the same with the BB, you can not use the GPS but if you pay them $10/m u can get vznav. But when you really think about it they are charging you for the device, let it be a discount for a contract or full retail we are paying for the device and be able to use what ever the manufacture provides with out the interferance of the serive provider crippling the phone BB or other.

Matt Bennett says:

So what's special about Canada that makes screwing the customer easier?

What exactly about the Canadian market, either business or legislative-wise, makes it so easy to give customers the shaft? Cuz it looks to me, that between Rogers and Bell Canada, Canadian cell phone users are pretty screwed. It’s not like US wireless carriers are exactly benevolent, but in comparison to Canada they are.

NeoConBushSupporter says:

Bush was right!

This is why we need STARWARS people . . . he was right again! Sure some of you said “trust the Canadians”, “there our friends” and “we dont need to waste money on a giant Missle Defense Sheild ” . . . what are you saying now, huh?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bush was right!

I think the sarcasm went right over your head. (S)he is a Dem posting as a Rep to make them look stupid. I thought (s)he wasn’t fooling anyone, but I was wrong. BTW, I’m a Dem, but I know that most people in both parties are neither stupid, nor blind. They vote for what is best for either themselves or the country as a whole. In this election, I’m not sure which candidate that is.

hegemon13 says:

Blatant antitrust

The company is abusing its market position and power to artificially degrade competing products and force the sale of a separate product of its own. This is the exact same thing MS did with the bogus DOS error messages if you were using OS/2 or other non-Windows GUI. It is the same charge MS had leveled against them for bundling IE, making it part of the OS, and attempting to cripple third-party browsers. If Canada’s antitrust laws are anything like the US’s, they are asking for a huge antitrust suit.

Woody Green says:

Re: Re:

It is not only technically possible, it is highly likely. There is money to be milked from those customers.

Actually many (not all) wireless providers customize the software on your phone prior to shipment. Manufactures like RIM (Blackberry) provide this option for their phones. The provider can ship original manufacture software or their own modified release. Think of it as a provider SDK (Software Development Kit). Wireless providers can add options, disable features, modify certain phone behaviors, pre-install add-ons, etc…

In my case T-Mo’s custom release of 8320 Curve software ( breaks the modem functionality for all but Windows (I do not think they did it intentionally, but dumb on their part anyway). I go to RIM and download unmodified software by fibbing about who my provider is and viola, the modem functionality works fine with Linux as it does for all non-T-Mo phones. And as a bonus, I get a whole new set of features T-Mo did not ship like video camera support.

It would not be hard for Bell Canada, or any provider with their own development staff, to ship a modified OS install on the blackberry causing the it to fuzz your location numbers (eg: add random small offset) as part of the Blackberry API call Google (or other software author) has to make to get the GPS coordinates.

I love to dispel a good conspiracy theory as much as anyone else, but this one is likely true.

Kevin says:

Does this Matter?

Whether or not this is true, shouldn’t the accuracy of the incoming GPS Signal still have to be within the standard error of 2 to 3 meters. If the error was obviously outside this range I would think it constitutes a failure to provide the service as advertised. And if that failure was consistent Bell would be in violation of their contracts with mobile subscribers.

Unless specifically stated that they would only guarantee GPS accuracy on their own proprietary applications, I don’t see how they can get away with this from a legal standpoint. Then again, I’m not a lawyer. I hope I made enough sense for someone with the appropriate knowledge to flush out the details.



dorpass says:

Re: Does this Matter?

There is no explicit promise to provide a certain accuracy for GPS. So no violation of contract is present. You might argue that there is an implied promise of the GPS working with any software, but since they already provide their own service, they can argue that they don’t have to support anyone else.

The location error can be added AFTER the hardware GPS has sent the correct location.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Another Nail for Net Neutrality

Companies may whine about regulation, but they seem to lack the “maturity” to act responsibly.

Lets see, the financial institutions were freed of some regulation and look what happened. They used “innovation” to create junk financial instruments, which are now bring down our economy.

Those opposed to network neutrality claim that regulation would hurt “innovation”. Mike’s post is another example of how companies can potentially abuse “innovation” simply for their own self interest and not to foster the societal economic growth they claim.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another Nail for Net Neutrality

“. . . companies can potentially abuse “innovation” simply for their own self interest and not to foster the societal economic growth they claim.”

Companies will always “abuse” innovation for thier own self interest, always have and always will. The trick is to make sure that the company’s self interest and the societal greater interest are the same.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Another Nail for Net Neutrality

First thing I thought of was Comcast’s bandwidth caps, announced just as Netflix and Microsoft announce streaming movies via the Xbox 360.

Stream movies from Netflix or YouTube or anywhere else, or use Vonage or some other VOIP provider, and you run the risk of overflowing your data allotment for the month. Oh, but use our movies on demand, or VOIP phone, and you’re fine.


nobell (profile) says:

Oh yeah.

This will really help them compete against the iPhone offered only by their competitor with it’s cell-tower and wifi enhanced free GPS.

Good move Bell.

P.S. Screw you, Bell, for stealing 120 minutes of my life this week while I talked to your ‘people’ in Bangalore about the fraudulent charge you added to my bill.

P.P.S All of the Bell executives’ email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname at I bet some of you are smart enough to figure out where to send your complaints. It worked for me.

Call Me says:

Is this the party to whom I am speaking ?

Telcom GPS sucks, just like all the other crap they have added to the cell “phone”. btw, it’s not really a phone anymore is it ?

The picture quality is worse than an Instamatic 104, a monaural 45 vinyl record sounds better than the mp3 player, web browsing is a joke, and now GPS – holy crap.

What more could you ask for ? … A phone ???

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...