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Have you switched internet providers? Why?

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale spoke Wednesday morning at the Canadian Telecom Summit about the danger for ISPs of letting companies like Google and Yahoo or content providers beat them to the punch when it comes to delivering online media, in particular video, a story we recently covered here as part of our Changing Channels feature.

Much of his speech covered familiar ground: 90 per cent of online traffic will be video by 2012, he said, this will put pressure on ISPs to deliver the service seamlessly to customers.

But one small moment of his speech has stuck with me: in an effort to show that ISPs have an inherent advantage, he asked the audience first how many were online, and then second how many had switched providers in the last few years. Nearly everyone raised their hands to the first question, almost no one to the second.

Since this was an industry crowd, perhaps this shouldn't be surprising. But it got me thinking about my own experience in the early days of the internet: I didn't switch providers either, although the providers switched on me, as my first provider Interlog was purchased twice before eventually becoming part of Bell's Sympatico network.

Which has me asking another question: Is “churn”, a common term in the wireless world for customers that switch sides, as common with internet services? Because while Rogers, Bell and Telus track wireless churn and report it in the their quarterly reports, I can't recall seeing any internet service churn statistics. Are people more reluctant to disconnect their internet, or is the churn happening underreported? Certainly comments on many of our stories on subjects such as net neutrality and broadband services seem to indicate that many of our vocal readers have switched providers, but are they the exception or increasingly the rule?

These are questions I'm going to try to answer, but for now, I'm curious to hear your stories. When did you switch, and if so, why?

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