Starting today, Canadians can add their numbers to a national Do Not Call list. Nearly four years have passed since the Government of Canada announced that they would introduce what eventually became Bill C-37, legislation which empowers the CRTC to setup and manage the Dot Not Call List and to dish out penalties to violators. You can learn more about the history of the list at Wikipedia.
To sign up for the list, visit the DNCL website or call 1-866-580-DNCL (or 1-888-DNCL-TTY). I just added my number online, and it was a quick and painless process. Two things caught my attention:
- Your number doesn’t remain on the list permanently. My registration will expire on October 31st, 2011.
- There are quite a few exemptions, including registered charities, political parties, newspapers, and businesses you are already doing business with.
According to CBC, so many people tried to add their numbers to the list today that the website went down and the phone line was constantly busy. Global TV reported tonight that over 1 million Canadians have already tried to register. The CRTC originally projected that 16 million numbers would be on the list within the first two years.
Michael Geist has been one of the DNCL’s most vocal critics, and setup iOptOut to help Canadians create and manage a personal DNCL. I don’t know how effective the list will be, but I figure it can’t hurt to get my number on there.
It’s another sign that Alberta is growing – we’re running out of phone numbers! To deal with the extra demand, we’re getting a new area code: 587. The area code isn’t specific to a geographic area like 403 (south) and 780 (north) are. Instead, it will co-exist with the other numbers, which means you’ll soon have to use 10 digits when making local calls:
After September 8-12, 2008, you won’t be able to make 7-digit local calls, but will have to dial the area code in front of the 7-digit phone number. You should plan ahead to ensure your telecommunications services are ready for the change.
To help prepare, the telecommunications providers have a phase-in plan as follows:
June 23 – 28, 2008: Permissive dialing period, you can make calls normally but will hear a recorded message reminding you to use ten digits.
June 29 – September 8, 2008: If you dial without entering an area code, you’ll hear the recording reminding you to use ten digits. Data transmission, like modems and fax machines, may not work unless you use ten digits.
After September 8, 2008: You’ll hear a message asking you to hang up and use ten digits.
All three digit numbers, such as 911, will remain the same.
For more information on the changes, check out dial10.ca.
Remember all the undersea cables that were cut last month? I still haven’t come across a definitive reason for the disruptions, though a February 19th article at The Inquirer claims it was sabotage. I’m not sure about that, but the one thing that is clear is that everyone has moved on. For instance, Google announced a few weeks ago that it was joining a consortium building a new $300 million undersea fiber optic cable linking the US and Japan:
The new cable system – named Unity – will address broadband demand by providing much needed capacity to sustain the unprecedented growth in data and Internet traffic between Asia and the United States. Unity is expected to initially increase Trans-Pacific lit cable capacity by about 20 percent, with the potential to add up to 7.68 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth across the Pacific.
Om Malik has a good roundup of reasons for why Google got involved.
Just a few days ago, AT&T announced big investments in data centers here in Canada as well as undersea cables in Asia and Australia:
“Recent cable cuts in Europe and Asia show we need to further improve resiliency and re-routing capability,” he says.
AT&T has the largest private fleet of cable-laying ships in the world, and operates its global network on 71 undersea cables laid over 450,000 miles…
If you do a quick search you’ll find a bunch of other announcements for cable systems, such as this new one in Africa, and this upgraded one that links Singapore and France.
Maybe new cables are being laid faster than they are being cut after all 🙂
Also – check out this post at the Royal Pingdom blog:
Over 260 ISPs, including major network providers like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, all cross-connect in a single data center in an office building in downtown LA.
This has been going on for 20 years. So much for not having a single point of failure.
A few cut cables seems kind of irrelevant compared to that.
With each passing day, another undersea cable serving the Middle East is severed. At least that’s the way things are going right now! Slashdot reported earlier today on the fifth incident, originally suggesting that it resulted in all of Iran going offline. They later backtracked as it became clear that Iran was still on the grid.
Not surprisingly, there is a Wikipedia entry up with information on the 2008 submarine cable disruption. It includes a timeline with details about which cables were damaged. In case you’re wondering, there’s a list of international submarine communications cables at Wikipedia too.
The cable known as SEA-ME-WE 4 has been affected the most, which is significant as it provides the primary connection between Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Combined with the FLAG cable cut, the BBC has pointed out that only the older SEA-ME-WE 3 is currently connecting Europe and the Middle East, with capacity reduced by about 75%. This cable has experienced a couple disruptions of its own in the past. The first was in July of 2005, which mainly affected Pakistan. The second was back in December of 2006, the result of an earthquake known as Hengchun which occurred off the coast of Taiwan. Perhaps there are more that I haven’t found yet. Heck, portions of the cable have even been stolen and sold!
In my post yesterday, I expressed hope that the recent incidents would result in some action to prevent the situation from getting worse. The more I read about undersea cables however, the clearer it becomes that these events are certainly nothing new. It seems as though cable disruptions aren’t as uncommon as one might think.
Certainly the fact that five cables have been cut in less than two weeks should raise some eyebrows, however.
Here are some additional resources:
On Friday I posted about the three undersea cables that were cut, disrupting Internet access in South Asia and the Middle East. Since then, another cable has been cut, and the story is finally starting to get some coverage. The BBC posted about the issue today, and included a really interesting diagram that explains the parts of an undersea cable.
The most interesting article however, comes from the International Herald Tribune:
Most telecommunications experts and cable operators say that sabotage seems unlikely, but no one knows what damaged the cables or whether the incidents were related.
According to the Egyptian government, no ships were in the vicinity of the cables when they were cut. Seems suspicious to me that four cables have been severed in such a short period of time, but who knows. It seems that this bit of Internet infrastructure isn’t as sturdy as one might think.
“This has been an eye-opener for us, and everyone in the telecom industry worldwide,” said Colonel R.S. Parihar, the secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of India.
Let’s hope the recent incidents result in some action, before the situation gets any worse. Traffic has been re-routed over the last week, but how well would that work if many more cables were cut, say during an attack?
Maybe you’re not convinced that ensuring the safety of undersea cables is important. Consider this:
Undersea cables carry about 95 percent of the world’s telephone and Internet traffic, according to the International Cable Protection Committee, an 86-member group that works with fishing, mining and drilling companies to curb damage to submarine cables.
Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!
Read: International Herald Tribune
I didn’t see this one coming, but apparently Telus is interested in acquiring Bell parent BCE Inc. Such a move would create a truly national telecommunications company here in Canada, but I am not sure that’s such a good thing. Telus CEO Darren Entwistle seems convinced though:
“This acquisition will create a strong, integrated competitor that would generate continued expansion and growth in the years ahead,” CEO Darren Entwistle said in a media conference call.
“This particular acquisition makes enormous sense for our country. This move will create a truly national provider with the size to stand along side any telecom company in the world.”
Fellow blogger Mark Evans speculates on the deal and wonders if Rogers and Shaw would cozy up in response.
Who knew the Canadian telecommunications industry could be so interesting?
I have given much thought to the Telus dispute over the last couple months, mainly because I see the workers on strike every day across the street from the office. An article in The Gateway (the University of Alberta’s student paper) today also made me think of the issue again. I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- The labour dispute has only reinforced my desire to look for alternatives. Vonage is looking pretty good right now as far as my landline is concerned. I don’t want to get a new cell phone number though, so I am stuck with Telus Mobility for that.
- I think Telus needs to look in the mirror and accept that they have not always acted appropriately. They have done some things wrong, and they need to own up and fix them.
- No matter how much Telus the company might be at fault, I cannot bring myself to support the workers on strike. Never in my dealings with Telus over the last six years (I lived in the NWT before that) have I encountered an employee that was helpful, let alone polite. Ridiculous wait times on the phone only to be greeted by a rude, unhelpful employee is not my idea of a good time. And don’t give me that crap about how they’d be more polite and helpful if they were paid better, etc. I don’t buy it. People at McDonald’s aren’t paid very well, but at least they are usually more helpful and polite than Telus employees.
Clearly that last point is the most important, and it’s the one that I have thought about most.