A new Halifax company is aiming to drive down internet prices in Nova Scotia.
Purple Cow founders Bradley Farquhar and Joe Power say they are undercutting the prices of other internet service providers, or ISPs, to encourage them to lower their rates.
“If we have lower rates and customers are with us, they benefit,” said CEO Farquhar in an interview. “And if they’re with the big guys, they still benefit because the big guys have to lower their prices. That’s our goal.”
The company buys access to the internet backbone—which is the infrastructure that ISPs use to route internet traffic between their respective networks—from a company in Toronto. It then uses two third-party-owned fiber-optic cables to transfer data between Toronto and Nova Scotia. Inside the province, it employs infrastructure belonging to larger, local ISPs.
Farquhar declined to name the local ISPs, but described them as “the big guys.”
A month of internet access from Purple Cow costs $60 and promises download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second—comparable to Eastlink Edge, which costs $95.95 per month after the 12-month promotional period ends. Bell Aliant charges $159.95 per month after the first year and offers download speeds of up to 150 megabits per second.
Farquhar said his company distinguishes itself from other budget internet options, such as CityWide’s $54.95 per month offering, based on the quality of its service. For example, customers can communicate with Purple Cow via texting and can contact support outside of normal business hours.
Subscribers are also not required to purchase a router. Instead, Purple Cow retains ownership of the equipment.
“In a couple of months, or a year, or two years, or five years, or whatever, the equipment’s kind of outdated and not really the greatest anymore,” said Farquhar. “You don’t have to then repurchase the equipment.”
When a customer purchases internet, they pay a $55 setup fee, according to the company website. But they can choose a specific time to have the router delivered, rather than being assigned a multi-hour window during which they must be at home.
An added benefit of the texting-oriented and flexible support strategy, said Power, is that it prevents the company from having to employ a large work force dedicated solely to providing over-the-phone customer support.
Employees can also work from home, and Power said that he and Farquhar hope to avoid relying on expensive storefronts for sales.
Instead, they’re focusing their efforts on zany marketing strategies, such as editing purple cows into photos from Toronto Raptors games and creating company accounts on dating apps.
Farquhar said Purple Cow’s customer base has been growing quickly, and the business is about to launch a television service it has been testing.
Subscribers will be able to watch a full suite of basic cable television channels via an app, and will have the option to upgrade to premium channels.
Farquhar and Power have not accepted outside investment, and don’t plan to in future. Instead, they said, they are funding their new venture with their own money.
Both men graduated from St. Mary’s University before founding solar panel businesses in the U.S. They returned to Nova Scotia last year and officially launched Purple Cow in May.
“Both Joe and I have been pretty fortunate in the business world,” said Farquhar. “We’ve both had past businesses and from that, we wanted to take that money and reinvest it in Nova Scotia.”