Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, October 8th – Groups, CBC v CC, Netflix

So I missed last week’s post due to an unprecedentedly busy week and this week I’m in the US of A. Suffice it to say, this weeks’ post is a little different than the others in this series.

The state of group buying in Canada:

A couple of months ago I had not heard of a single group buying sites for the Canadian market. That all changed this month, there has been a mini-explosion of group buying options:

CBC Hates Creative Commons

Reddit user mcantelon discovered a thread of comments buried in the Spark show notes. Spark has a history of using Creative Commons music for intros and bumpers throught the show and providing links to this music with every episode.  A commenter asked where he could find the Creative Commons link to the music used in the latest episode. Show producers Dan Misener and Lilly Mills jump in to provide explanation. Turns out, CBC is not allowed to use Creatives Commons licensed due to a collective barginning agreement! One commenter, Andrew Butash, puts it best “…this is incredibly unsettling. The CBC is a public broadcaster that receives funding from taxpayers. They should not be signing exclusive contracts with any agencies or unions. Disallowing the use of creative commons media is excluding tons of Canadian content from being used by CBC, not to mention wasting money by requiring CBC programs to use non-free media.”

Netflix Gotcha

With the launch of Netflix Canada I was wondering what would happen if you try to log in to from the USA with a Canadian account. I was hoping that you’d instantly get access to the US content, allowing for the possibility of a way to spoof your IP from Canada. Unfortunately that’s not what happens. simply does not recognize your Canadian credentials, giving a standard “invalid username/password” type message. When you try to access from a US IP, this happens:

Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, September 22nd – Netflix, Pandora, Hippie Cars, Government Transparency

Netflix Finally Available!
Netflix opened the doors to it’s dot-ca today, offering unlimited streaming service at $7.99 – $1 or $2 less than early rumour suggested. I’ve personally been looking forward to this ever since our household signed up for cable TV again. After poking around a bit today, I’ve found that the selection seems quite limited and random. Hopefully this will improve once Netflix has a larger user-base to offer to rights holder. I am happy that the service does not seem to be influenced by CanCon legislation. Which is to say, there does not seem to be a higher concentration of (obviously) Canadian Content, like there was when iTunes started offering video a few years ago.

I wonder what happens when you log in to Netflix in the US with a Canadian account and vice versa.

Pandora abandons Canadian expansion plans
Tim Westergren – CEO of music streaming service Pandora – slammed Canadian performance rights agencies today, citing high royalty rates as the main reason we won’t be seeing Pandora in Canada any time soon. Starting next year Re:sound wants to increase the royalty rates it charges to websites streaming to mobile devices – up to 45% of the site’s revenue or $0.075/song. In Westergren’s words “over 20 times what radio delivered over AM/FM pays.” Unbelievable!

Calgary firm launches the hippiest car ever
As if electric cars weren’t a hard enough sell for the average consumer already, Calgary’s Motive industries have come up with a way to make them seem even more ludicrous. Hemp-based bodies. The jokes write themselves.

Canadian Governments Respect Internet Privacy
Google has released their latest government requests transparency report – a colleciton of stats about how much private data various governments asking about, or demanding removal of. I was pleasantly surprised to find Canada at the very bottom of the list, making fewer than 10 removal requests

Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, September 16th – Spark, Copyright, RIM, Boxee, Bell’s IPTV

Spark is Back
CBC’s brilliant technology radio show (available in podcast form) is back for another season of Nora Young‘s soothing voice and intelligent commentary on tech issues.

Official Opposition Opposes Copyright Bill
Digital Copyright Canada posted an email they received from the Office of the Official Opposition. TLDR

…we believe that Canadian consumers who have legitimately purchased a CD or a DVD or other product should also have the ability to transfer their purchase onto their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long as they are not doing so for the purposes of sale or transfer to others.

RIM Acquires Documents To Go
Earlier last week RIM confirmed rumours of their acquisition of the makers of popular mobile app Documents To Go – a smartphone app that allows native editing of doc,ppt,xls and pdf. I guess RIM was feeling left out without their own documents offering.

Boxee Box out November 21st
OMGNOTTHATBOXXY! In Canadian product release date news: the long awaited D-Link Boxee Box – set-top media extender, online tv streamer of your nerdy dreams – is going to be available on the same date for the same price as the US. November 21st, for $199. It’s unclear whether this price is an introductory pre-order price or the final retail price. Hopefully Netflix Canada will have launched by then…

Bell Launching Internet-Based TV
I’m pleased to see that all the big telecom players are slowly coming on board with IPTV offerings. This move from Bell Canada mirrors service we’ve seen out west from the likes of MTS and Telus for a few years now. Once all cable TV providers offer phone service and all traditional phone providers offer TV, maybe we’ll start seeing some real country-wide competition.

Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, September 9th

A bit of a slow news week this week. I blame Labour Day.

Vidéotron’s cellular network goes live today
Quebec internet and cable TV provider launched it’s wireless offering today. This is the second new celluar network (after Wind) to spawn from the wireless spectrum auction a couple years ago. The service claims to cover 90% of the province. Assuming you don’t want to use your phone out of province, their voice packages are not bad and data starts at $5/mo for 50MB.

Gap launches Canadian web store
In a classic example of a US giant completely missing out on the Canadian market, it only took the Gap 10 years to launch a dot-ca store. So go nuts Canadians, buy some jeans like it’s 1999.

RCMP attempting to kill Craigslist erotic services
Craigslist censoring it’s adult section has been all over the US-centric tech news this week. Hearing these stories I just kind of assumed that Craigslist was censoring the section across the site. But apparently no one except the RCMP bothered to take a look at Craigslist’s non-US domains. If you take a look at, you’ll find the erotic section alive and well.

Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, September 1st – CRTC, Telco Refunds, WiFi is Bad, Google Games

This week – in a bid to stay relevant to consumers – CRTC made a couple of good decisions; the cell phone industry still sucks; wifi wackos and Google acquisitions.

Canada avoids broadband duopolies, keeps line-sharing alive
In a decision that’s most relevant to Eastern Canadians – where telecom competitions actually exists – the CRTC ruled in favour of the little guy. After 4 years of flip-flopping the CRTC ruled that large cable and DSL ISPs such as Bell and Rogers must share their lines with smaller competitors at the same bandwidth speeds offered to their own customers. Unfortunately the ruling isn’t 100% good, the CRTC said it’s still ok to filter traffic and throttle things like p2p. (CBC coverage)

MTS, Bell, Telus forced to rebate customers and service rural communities
Get a load of this convoluted government logic:

In 2002, the CRTC allowed phone companies to charge above their normally regulated price caps so that new competitors entering the market for home phones — primarily cable companies such as Rogers and Vidéotron — could undercut them.

The extra charges went into deferral accounts, which over the years amounted to $1.6 billion. Phone companies were allowed to draw on these accounts to lower the wholesale rates they charged competitors…

The rest of it was supposed to be spent on rural broadband. Turns out, 8 years later the telco’s haven’t spent a whole lot of that money “the total remaining amount has risen to $770 million…” Yesterday the CRTC ruled that $421 million of the cache has to be spent expanding rural service, $310 million goes back to urban customers in the form of $25 – $90 rebates. Don’t ask about the other $39million, they’re probably sending it on internet filters or something.

The WiFi Debate is not over
So a drama professor named Fancy and a Cold War era microwave expert named Tower walk into a bar…
The head of the drama department at Brock University “…took the unusual step of issuing a news release to warn staff about Wi-Fi dangers.” I guess he’s trying to upstage Health Canada. I really don’t know what else to say about this ridiculous FUD.

Canadians still paying the highest cell phone bills in the world
Long story short: cellcos take in the highest average revenue per user at $55; we have the 5th lowest mobile penetration at around 75%; not only is mobile service expensive, it’s not affordable when compared against GDP per capita. Take a look at the post for all the fancy graphs and real analysis.

Google buys Toronto-based  game developer
In “me too” news, Google Canada has acquired a Toronto-based cross platform game developer SocialDeck.