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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Verizon Wireless does this in the US already.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Me, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    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.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    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.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    NeoConBushSupporter, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    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?


    VOTE McCain 2008 - CLOSED UNTIL CRISIS SOLVED AND WORLD SAVED

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Gordon the Beaver, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Re: Bush was right!

    What on earth are you trying to say?? ... Your ramblings make no sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    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.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    This is just a rumour based on some blogs as far as I can see.

    I'm not sure that this is even technically possible (since GPS is internal to these models RIM devices and picked up from satellites not owned by bell)

    facts are handy little things.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Matt, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    Re: Bush was right!

    I hope that whole thing was sarcasm....then again, you know how some people are with supporting McSame.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    GPS user, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Dont need no stinkin telco GPS crap

    I'll just continue using my Garmin for GPS requirements.
    Thanks anyways

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    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.

    Cheers,

    Kevin

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    It's possible. Owners of VZW BBs in the US know that they cannot make use of 3rd party mapping apps that need to access the BBs built in GPS.

    Only the VZW Navigator can make use of the native GPS. The GPS has been crippled otherwise.

    This is true of Google Maps and BBs own mapping application.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:49am

    Are you sure...

    ...that they're not using aGPS (where the actual location is figured out by triangulation between cell towers)?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Dave, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Bush was right!

    It's sarcasm... just laugh and enjoy...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:59am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    John, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    software

    they are obvious that they are just modding the firmware so all you need to do is reflash the deuice with american/european firmware

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    lee, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Bush was right!

    Not!
    Blow Me

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:25pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:32pm

    Re: software

    Great idea: Flash it with firmware that disables it entirely (à la Verizon). Bell (like Verizon) uses CDMA, so European GSM firmware just wouldn't work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    It could happen...

    I encourage everyone to "Vote With Your Dollars." Bell wants to essentially steal your money by screwing competitors. Then screw Bell and find another vendor for whatever service you need. The service may not be as "good" BUT Bell will certainly take note if enough customers do it!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    dorpass, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Woody Green, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    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 (4.2.2.180) 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.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    Proof?

    I've posted in a few of the threads linked to in the original article, but I still have not seen any proof of this move by Bell other than one post by someone claiming to be a Bell employee that "leaked" this.

    If there is an actual "internal memo", then where is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    extortion
    outwresting, or exaction is a criminal offense, which occurs, when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:39pm

    Woody - thanks for that. I love learning something. very cool.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Shuryno, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:49pm

    Anyone suprised by anything Bell does

    Is exactly the kind of customer they're looking for.

    Bell is a plague, everyone should be educated and stay clear of Bell Canada, Canada's largest Crook. Tell your friends!

    This company will keep us in the dark age, keeping us from innovations, trying to pull a Microsoft on us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Bush was right!

    McSame? Is that what you are going with? What about Obama lobbyist whore?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Johnny Canada, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 3:20pm

    Anyone suprised by anything Bell does

    Shuryno, and our choices are ???

    Roger$

    Telu$

    Fido (part of Roger$)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    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.

    Hmm...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    crucible, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 3:50pm

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

    Yes we do get the shaft up here...Sometimes it actually hurts to sit down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 4:19pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    nobell (profile), Sep 25th, 2008 @ 6:13pm

    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 bell.ca. I bet some of you are smart enough to figure out where to send your complaints. It worked for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Call Me, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 6:39pm

    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 ???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Tony, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Bush was right!

    "In this election, I'm not sure which candidate that is."

    Anyone remember Brewster's Millions?

    "None of the above"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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