Beanfield FTTH – 2 month review and technical details

Around a month ago I posted a 1 month review of Beanfield’s 50/50 FTTH Internet service, along with some technical details and some of my internal network configuration.

Since then, there are a number of updates to post regarding my original review.

Beanfield Clarifications

Beanfield have been in touch and have kindly provided some feedback on my first review. I have to commend Beanfield for reaching out and actually providing some feedback – well done Beanfield. Next time, feel free to post comments so everyone can see your responses!

Firstly, the network hardware is actually a zNID 2600 Series Indoor Gigabit Active Ethernet ONT (my bad), and from port identification appears to be a model 2628A. This is different from the GPON version, as explained below:

The Zhone we use is not using GPON. GPON uses passive optical splitters to connect up to 32 fibres to a single fibre, which is essentially sharing a single fibre between 32 users. GPON is very common with fibre-to-the-home service delivery (for example, Bell uses it). We actually deploy Active Ethernet, the opposite of GPON. Active Ethernet runs like an everyday, ordinary Ethernet network in that every customer is provided with their own fibre strand, which runs to the Cisco switch we have in the building.

Next, some feedback on how my existing router was rendered pretty much useless by the default setup. Beanfield made the point that the majority of their customers are not as technically savvy as myself, and so they choose to manage everything via their own Zhone hardware.

This I have to take issue with to be quite honest, as I explained to them. Sure, this may work for the majority of customers. But there is an entire “prosumer” market, and it would make sense that most of this market would jump at the chance to get FTTH if they knew about it’s availability. This market will, quite simply, be left disappointed by the default setup and it’s limitations as they currently stand. Read More

Beanfield 50/50 FTTH – 1 month review and details

NOTE: I have since posted an update to this blog post that corrects some of the technical aspects of the post, provides some further feedback from Beanfield, and points out some serious limitations of their service. You can read these updates in my 2 month review of Beanfield.

It’s been roughly 1 month since Beanfield came and installed my Fibre (FTTH) into my condo, and seeing as I couldn’t really find any online reviews (and zero specific details) of their service before signing up, I thought I’d write my own.

Installation involved running a fibre strand into the cabinet in my unit, which is not done by default unless a previous tenant or owner has had the service. The Beanfield tech arrived on time, and quickly got to work. It was overall a pretty painless process, and took around 2 hours to complete. Total setup time was around 2.5hours, and they charged me $150 for installation (you can also opt for $75 install and $10/month fee).

What you get

Beanfield appears to install a Zhone zNID GPON ONT, model 2628A Beanfield installs a  zNID 2600 Gigabit Active Ethernet ONT (8 Gigabit Ethernet and 2 POTS ports) – see 2 month review. Perhaps I am incorrect on the exact model number or GE vs. GE POE ports, but it’s definitely a 26xx model. Everything was neatly wired up to the fibre.

Below you can see 3 ethernet cables running to my built in Cat6 wall sockets (not used) and one cable running to my wireless router (that I moved into the coat closet), which is then connected directly to my headless server (also living in the closet).

Zhone Switch
Zhone 26xx GPON ONT

What’s interesting to note here is that this is essentially a router with 8 GigE ports and the fibre is terminated in the unit. There is no public network socket. This is very different from a normal Rogers or Bell setup, where you can install either a router or an ADSL/router combo (for DSL) and get the public IP on your own router. What this means is that your existing router is pretty much useless, and everything is controlled via the Zhone 26xx. Read More

Anokhi Media, Internships, and the Employment Standards Act

Today I’m calling bullshit on Anokhi Media and internships in general.

Internship. It’s a dirty word that didn’t really cross my radar until 2005, a year or so after I arrived in Canada. No such thing really exists in the UK, or at least when I lived there it wasn’t rampant in the labour market. Now in Canada, internships can last up to an entire year and be unpaid.

So what is an internship? According to the Ontario government, an internship is basically unpaid, on-the-job training, and is clearly defined by the Ontario Employment Standards Act.

Here’s what you need to know: generally, if you perform work for another person or a company or other organization and you are not in business for yourself, you would be considered to be an employee, and therefore entitled to ESA rights such as the minimum wage. There are some exceptions, but they are very limited, and the fact that you are called an intern is not relevant.

One such circumstance where a person can work as an intern for no pay concerns a person receiving training, but it has very restrictive conditions. If an employer provides an intern with training in skills that are used by the employer’s employees, the intern will generally also be considered to be an employee for purposes of the ESA unless all of the conditions below are met:

  1. The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the intern. You receive some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills.
  3. The employer derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern while he or she is being trained.
  4. Your training doesn’t take someone else’s job.
  5. Your employer isn’t promising you a job at the end of your training.
  6. You have been told that you will not be paid for your time.

So there you have it. It doesn’t matter whether they are giving you some training, or whether they have told you it is unpaid, or whether this is a “trial” period before a paid job. It’s technically illegal unless it meets all six of the above criteria, you’re in full-time education, or in one of the exempt professions (such as, ironically, law).

According to David Doorey, professor of employment law at York University:

You won’t find the word ‘intern’ in our employment laws at all. It’s an industry term. There seems to be a widely held belief that an employer avoids our basic employment law rules simply by labelling someone an intern. That’s wrong.

Now whether many interns will do anything about this remains to be seen, as people are desperately trying to find employment and some are willing to work for free, given the dangling of a job at the end of the internship. Why is this a problem? Well, because the Ontario labour market is rife with illegal internships and people are being exploited.

According to Statistics Canada, unemployment in Ontario for those younger than 24 is 16.5 per cent. That’s more than double the rate of 6.3 per cent for those above 24.

Toronto lawyer and internship critic Andrew Langille has written a great piece about internships in Ontario on his blog:

We’re seeing the erosion of the entry-level position and paid employees being replaced with unpaid interns. Unpaid internships have a direct impact on the economy through contributing to youth unemployment, driving down wages, slowing economic growth, and allowing employers to replace paid employees with unpaid, vulnerable young workers or recent immigrants.

Welcome to North America people, where companies (like Anokhi Media) exploit vulnerable young people and immigrants. If you’re young and an immigrant, I really don’t fancy your chances… All the more reason to learn your rights under Canadian law.

Employment Standards Act

All this is relevant because most “interns” don’t even qualify to be interns, and that then technically makes them employees. As an employee, you now have rights, and as such are entitled to benefits under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, including some that are particularly relevant for Ontario’s black-market army of  “interns” – protection from excessive overtime (48hr/week maximum) and the right to be paid a minimum wage ($10.25/hr).

Andrew Langille has the following to say about the ESA:

A few points need to be made about the ESA. This is a socially protective piece of law which was designed to give workers minimum rights in the workplace. The ESA contains two provisions critical to protecting interns: first, there’s a prohibition on employers and employees from contracting out from the minimum provisions contained in the Act – this means that you can’t undertake “work” for free under normal circumstances; second, there’s a provision setting out that employees need to be paid an hourly minimum wage.

The dual legal narrative related to unpaid internships is one of wage theft, employers not paying wages to young workers, and of misclassification, the concept that employers engage in a form of “mischief” to convince an employee that they aren’t entitled to the hourly minimum wage.

Do you qualify for protection under the ESA with your internship? Go and find out.

Anokhi Media

You may be wondering why I am writing about this. Quite simply, because I dislike companies taking advantage of people, and because one of my friends up until recently worked as an unpaid intern for Anokhi Media.

Raj Girn
Raj Girn

Anokhi is some Toronto-based media company focused on the South Asian lifestyle and entertainment niche, and was founded by entrepreneur Raj Girn.

Despite Girn personally promising my friend a specific paid job at the end of the internship – in person and in writing before the internship started – Anokhi Media pulled a bait and switch by yanking that job offer in the afternoon on the very last day of the unpaid internship and substituting it with an inferior job offer. Real nice. Girn herself didn’t have the balls to communicate the news personally, despite exploiting the “intern” between 7 and 16 hours per day, and instead got someone else to deliver the bad news.

Unhappy by Anokhi’s unethical treatment of her, my friend requested to be compensated for the time she had spent working at Anokhi Media, as per her rights under the Employment Standards Act. Unsurprisingly, after being reminded that the Employment Standards Act applies to all companies and that hers is not above the law, Girn referred the case to the company lawyer. The saga continues.

Tyent USA – a great example of customer service excellence

I like to write about companies that are amazing – either amazingly crap, or  amazingly good. Today I want to talk about Tyent USA. These guys make water filtering and ionizing equipment, which produces clean, filtered, and alkaline pH water.

You can read more about the benefits of drinking alkaline water online, I’m not here to talk about that. However, what I do know is that I’d much rather drink filtered, alkalaine water than pH neutral Toronto tap water. And because of that, I purchased a Tyent MMP-7070, I think around 4-5 years ago now. It’s worked flawlessly ever since.

One time I broke the connector on the back, and I sent it back for repair. I just had to pay for shipping, and it arrived back shortly after, as good as new. Perfect service.

This time around, I had lost one of the screws for the water diverter that attaches to the kitchen tap. This meant that the lever you turn to divert water into the unit kept falling off in the sink – not a huge problem, but annoying nonetheless, and I couldn’t for the life of me find one that fitted despite trying several times. Eventually I decided to send them an e-mail, and ask if they could send me a replacement screw, and to call me if there would be any charges.

The next day, I got an e-mail that a replacement diverter was on its way by UPS. They had sent me an entire replacement diverter, for free, and by international courier, all without any charge. This, ladies and gentlemen, is outstanding customer service, and I applaud you Tyent USA. When my water alkalizer reaches end of life, I’ll be sure to buy another one from  you.

Footnote: This was a perfect experience, right up until the last minute, when the package arrived at my door. Tyent had marked the package as being worth $50, even though they had not charged me for it. Fair enough. There was $3 in GST to pay to the UPS driver, and for my convenience UPS had “kindly” paid the $3 in GST to Canadian Customs. However, UPS were going to charge me a $23 brokerage fee to pay $3 the day before, for a total charge of $26 owing to UPS. This is 766% on $3, and can only be described as daylight robbery. Shame on UPS.

Windows Phone 7 to “eclipse” iOS by 2015?

In my daily FirceMobileContent update there was in interesting story today entitled “iSuppli: Windows Phone on pace to eclipse Apple’s iOS in 2015“.

If we are to believe this, then by then Windows Phone will have overtaken iOS in operating system market share, and will be second to Android. Hmmm.

Currently the market looks like this:

OS Share of Smartphone Sales

Windows Phone is at what, 3%? Negligible anyway – and has been declining for years.

The iSuppli projection looks like this:

iSuppli market share

According to iSuppli, Windows phone will be just above iOS by 2015, which I find hard to believe as Apple has been able to innovate a lot more than Nokia and Microsoft combined. But hey, maybe without Steve Jobs that will end?