Friday, March 29, 2013

Unbundled: I intend to slash my internet, phone, cable bill by half by end of the month!

As far back as five years ago, for better service and convenience of having to pay for everything in one-bill, I consolidated all my services, phone, cell-phone, TV, and internet  with Rogers.  Recently, I have noticed that I can save a whole lot, minimum $200/year, if I abandon Rogers.

My goal is to pay half of what I am paying now, $155-$157/month, for all the above services;  hence the title of this and follow on blogs.

So far I have spoken to three people I know who are using Teksavvy for Internet.  If there is any truth to "word of mouth marketing", I should feel confident of giving TekSavvy a try.  TeckSavvy Cable 6 is exact same Internet service I have for $10.00 cheaper

Rogers vs Teksavvy
DL Speed UL Speed Bandwidth Rogers' Price TekSavvy's Price
6 Mbs 256 Kbs 25GB $34.71 $24.95

The savings will only show in the second year. The cost of service for the first year is on-par with what I am paying Rogers, because no doubt there will be one-time upfront fees to switch to TekSavvy. The two I found on their web site are:
  • Activation Fee: $45 after $20 fee discount
  • Modem: $75-$99

The following modems are compatible with their Cable service:
Product Price Specification
Thomson DCM 425 $75.00 from TekSavvy DOCSIS 2.0, good for DL speeds up to 18MBps
Thomson DCM 476 $99.00 from TekSavvy DOCSIS 3.0 latest standard, faster DL speed than DOCSIS 2.0
Motorola SB5101N - firmware version: $69.99 from Canada Computers DOCSIS 2.0, DL speeds of 30MBps
Motorola SB6120 - firmware version: $99.99 from Motorla web site DOCSIS 3.0, DL speeds of 180MBps
Joohong SL-2810 - firmware version: 10.2.7 $52.00 from DOCSIS 2.0
SMC D3GN-RES-DOCSIS 3.0 $130.00 from Audio 2001 DOCSIS 3.0, Draft-N Wireless Residential Cable Modem Gateway

All the above modems can be found for cheaper prices on web sites such as There was a post in one of the forums that buying off of kijiji runs the risk of being stuck with a returned modem that cannot be activated by the provider. The other advantage of paying for a brand new modem is that it comes with peace of mind that it can be returned/replaced if not functional. A few retailers that may have new modems for competitive prices are:

I don't have a router now; it is an unnecessary cost to pay for the convenience, and with smart phones enabled with data plans it seems even less likely that I'd be interested in paying an additional $50-$90 for a router. Nevertheless I looked into it. Half the population out there prefers a router+modem combo to separate devices. The router+modem combo saves on space, creates a cleaner visual effect, think about all those wires tangled if you have two separate boxes--yikes, and it consumes less electricity. The other half of the population thinks having two separate boxes is more prudent, because trouble shooting is easier, and in the event of trouble with router one can still enjoy connectivity with a working modem. Someone was raving about how his Motorola SB 6120 modem and a Netgear WNR 3500L work in harmony together.
After spending a good part of the day searching for all this wonderful information, I am still not clear if the reward of the switch will beat the:
    a: uncertainty of service of a new, relatively small provider -despite the good word-of-mouth advertisement 
    b: time spent to research and find good deals on modem, set up, and trouble-shoot 
    c: money spent on activation fee and modem 
    d: an additional bill to remember and pay each month 
     Next up is the phone service.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Innovation in the transportation

This is my last of a three part blog series on the topic of transportation.  Motivated by the Global Engineering Innovation Challenge, my friend and I brainstormed on what can be done to improve the road share in a limited right of way.

The goal is to pack a collection of objects, cars, buses, and bikes, into the minimum number of fixed-size bins, the road lanes. The resemblance between this and the classic bin packing problem is eminent.  In a bin packing problem one may pack based on first fit, or first best fit, based on ascending or descending ordered list of object based on its size.  Here we will be packing based on time of use.

The existing infrastructure of surface transport is sliced in at least three bins
            The side walks at least one on each side
            The roads at least one for each direction, North-South or East-West
Surface -> {Sidewalk, Road1, Road2}

The objects are bikes, cars, buses, and trucks
Items -> {Bikes, Cars, Buses, Trucks}

In solving this problem it is important to consider the time of the week day as the constraint to optimize.
Time -> {   06 < T < 10                   // demand is high because it is morning rush hour
               10 < T < 14                     // demand is low
               14 < T < 20                     // demand is high because it evening rush hour
               20 < T < 24                     // demand is low

The solution is:

Time -> {   06 < T < 10                        Surface -> {Sidewalk        No constraint
                                                                             , Road1       Car-pool, Buses only
                                                                             , Road2  Car-pool, Buses only

                10 < T < 14                        Surface -> {Sidewalk        No constraint
                                                                             , Road1     Bikes, Cars, Buses, Trucks
                                                                             , Road2  Cars, Buses, Trucks
               14 < T < 20                         Surface -> {Sidewalk        No constraint
                                                                             , Road1       Car-pool, Buses only
                                                                            , Road2  Car-pool, Buses only
               20 < T < 24             Surface -> {Sidewalk        No constraint
                                                                , Road1     Bikes, Cars, Buses, Trucks
                                                                , Road2  Cars, Buses, Trucks

This proposal promotes better, safer sharing of the road by distributing the load of its usage through out the day.