News

Public and Political Concern Over Usage Based Billing Gathers Steam

The increasing use of bandwidth caps and usage based billing models among Canadian ISPs may enjoy support from the CRTC, but the practice has begun to attract increasing critical attention in both the media and at the political level.  Yesterday, the NDP issued a release lamenting that “Canada is already falling behind other countries in terms of choice, accessibility and pricing for the Internet.”  NDP MP Charlie Angus, who will be appearing at a net neutrality town hall on the weekend, noted that UBB could be used to limit third-party services such as Netflix.

The concern from the NDP follows growing press coverage of the issue as well as petitions, public letters, and social media advocacy groups pressing for change.  With the national media picking up on the story, it appears that UBB could emerge as one of the big consumer Internet issues of 2011.

86 Comments

  1. Well, at least it’s finally being noticed. Not that I expect anything to actually happen because of it (The CRTC would need to actually show they understand the technology they are suppose to regulate then and actually want to protect consumers rather than big business like the seem to), but who knows.

  2. Shaw quietly lowers cap in preparation for UBB
    On December 17th, when most Canadians were preparing for the holidays, Shaw cable quietly lowered their usage caps and instituted overage charges:

    Lite 13GB -> 15GB ($2/GB overages)
    High Speed 75GB ($2/GB overages)
    Xtreme 125GB -> 100GB ($1/GB overages)
    Warp 250GB -> 175GB ($1/GB overages)
    Nitro 500GB -> 350GB ($1/GB overages)

  3. UBB makes total sense
    It’s used for long distance, gas, groceries, water, electricity, etc.

  4. UBB makes no sense
    When a gigabyte of bandwidth only costs a few cents, the markup being implemented is absurd. It’s unfair and its price gouging.

    Long distance rates have be made obsolete with VOIP and comparing Internet bandwidth to physical consumable commodities like gas, groceries, water and electricity isn’t a fair comparison.

  5. Unfair
    “UBB makes total sense
    It’s used for long distance, gas, groceries, water, electricity, etc.”

    So another way to gouge us is perfectly fine? I think not. There are Terabytes of internet out there and we only get a little drop every month to us? It’s absurd that they would do this to us. We already pay a lot of money for low services. Other countries have up to 30mbps standard coming into residential homes.

  6. The quiet collusion of the major players
    “When the major ISPs (those controlling 90% of the market share) are also content providers and have vested interests in traditional television and video on demand subsciptions, you can bet your mother’s false teeth that they are trying anything and everything possible to protect their cash cows and avoid convergence as seen in other countries.

    Over the last 3~4 years they have been quietly colluding to protect these interests. Each one of the players (oligopoly in most of the country) that control the pipes and are also major content providers/BDUs have instituted the following:

    1) eliminated unlimited data transfer.

    2) introduced low data transfer caps for all their internet tiers.

    3) charge exorbitant per Gb overage fees comparative to actual costs (500~5000% markups)

    4) are continually reducing the cap size, and increasing the overage fees.

    5) selectively applied traffic management practices (throttle)

    All in an attempt to protect their other vested interests and at the same time monetize the heck out of the internet.

    It all boils down to wanting control of the internet itself. The fully open, unfettered, accessible internet we have come to know and love is slowly and quietly being taken over. The walled gardens are starting up again (as per examples with iphones and wireless devices) and are soon to creep into the hardwired services as well.

    Mark my word…….

  7. UBB
    This is not real UBB. This is just a scam to degrade existing plans in order to be able to introduce new, more expensive plans. It’s just an exercise in jacking up prices.

    Laura


  8. This another example of how Canadian communication companies are trying to screw over the consumer.

    In the states, just about every ISP has no bandwidth cap. They also have much faster speeds, all for the same price us Canadians pay.

    Shaw sent me a nice little letter in the mail a few weeks ago telling me about how they plan to start watching my internet usage. At least I got notice, it showed me my usage for the past 2 months and I came in at just under 200 GB in a single month, when my limit is only 100 GB.
    At $97 a month for Shaw’s biggest internet plan which is Nitro, thats just insane.

    On another note, most cell phone companies in the U.S. offer unlimited nationwide talk either anytime or after 6pm or 9pm and on weekends. They’re also offering unlimited web browsing on cell phones.

    As Canadians we’re getting screwed over badly. It’s not right.

  9. Up the wohoo…
    And that is why Canada is becoming the laughing stock of the world. We let them get this in place and do nothing to stop or complain (except online like this). I suggest contacting your MP and complain that this has placed Canada into the placement of a 3rd world country.

  10. Ralph Naccio says:

    UBB Scam
    Shaw is using UBB to restrict our access to their competitors, ie: Netflix.

    Did you know that Shaw quietly reduced usage caps on all of their packages by 30% without telling customers? Did you know that they did this at the same time as they started charging for overages, and it was a month after Netflix arrived in Canada?

    ISPs keep telling people that this is good for them, so they don’t have to pay for other, higher bandwidth users. This is completely false, and designed to convince naive people that UBB is good for them.
    These same ISPs LOVE it when people repeat their mantra that it’s the “same as electricity” when there is no relationship whatsoever. Bandwidth is not a non-renewable resource that needs to be generated – once the infrastucture is in place, it costs PENNIES to send you 1GB of data. Besides, Canadian citizens paid to put that infrastructure in place!

    A representative from Teksavvy on the DSL Reports forums stated that it costs Shaw 1-3 CENTS per GB, and yet they are charging $2 per GB!

    This is simply a way for our ISPs to prevent us from using their competitors. If you are already at your cap, and you watch a HD Netflix movie (4GB), you will pay an additional $8 PER MOVIE to Shaw for usage. UBB is simply allowing Shaw to use anti-competitive measures to put a stop to web based TV which competes with their own TV services.

    Be sure to visit http://openmedia.ca/petition – They have 40,000 signatures from angry Canadian consumers. Every other country in the world has better access than Canada, and it needs to stop.

    The CRTC is corrupt, and needs to be disbanded.

    Thankfully, Michael Geist et al, are not allowing ISPs to get away with it without a fight. Good job Michael.

  11. @Doug
    Tried that. The form letters of not reading what you write about and not really caring get tiring after a while.

  12. I’m probably going to be flamed to hell and back for saying this, but I’m slightly bothered by the number of comments I’m seeing here complaining here like unlimited internet access is some sort of inalienable right.

    News flash, people. It isn’t. Maybe in France, Finland, or Greece, it might be considered to be so. But not in Canada.

    I mean, really…

    “When a gigabyte of bandwidth only costs a few cents, the markup being implemented is absurd. It’s unfair and its price gouging.”

    If it’s so cheap, why don’t you start your own ISP?

    “It’s absurd that they would do this to us. We already pay a lot of money for low services. Other countries have up to 30mbps standard coming into residential homes.”

    You are, of course, always free to move.

    Even if this maneuver is nothing more than a contrived way to inflate prices, ISP’s are businesses, not charities, and they have every right to try to maximize their profits.

  13. @Mark
    Not a flame but just a response… First off, initial startup capital is required, but the infrastructure supporting all telecom/television is paid for by the customer’s activation + monthly recurring fees and is recouped. Yes, it comes out of the company’s profit margins, but has to be spent in order to actually have customers. No product = no business.
    With the above being said, let’s just think about your statement of “If it’s so cheap, why don’t you start your own ISP?”. Let’s say for arguments sake that foreign investment rules are lifted and any amount of companies are allowed to start up their own ISP services; how many cables would you like coming into your home, how many times would you like your front lawn, back yard or street dug up so they can run cables/fibre. It just isn’t feasible to do so. Nor is it required, as all that we need is one connection to the home. The problem is, whoever controls that one connection has full control over your access to the open, unfettered internet. At this point in time, that open unfettered internet is being seriously threatened. And folks like you just don’t seem to see the implications of this.

    In most cases across Canada, it is one cable provider and/or one incumbent ILEC (telephone provider) that has control over that cable. It is a monopoly / oligopoly situation. Third party providers; who lease wholesale access and pay local loop fees to be able to connect you through to their own networks, have recently taken a couple of serious blows from decisions rendered by the CRTC, which has allowed these incumbent providers to actually control some of the operational aspects of these third party providers. Now most third party providers will not be afforded any means of being able to differentiate their services from the incumbents. In other words, there will no longer be any competitive advantage to being a provider. The fragile nature of the present competition will die off fairly quickly.

    In any event, the infrastructure is not the main concern of what is being debated. It is the amount of control being afforded the incumbents over your connection to the internet and the exorbidant data transport costs that are being charged, and yes they are exorbidant. See my previous post for a bit more insight on this.

    I have been following this for the last 4~5 years and actual data transfer costs that I have seen range from fractions of a cent, to 25 cents per gb. If they want true Usage Based Billing (UBB) then charge a reasonable base connection fee and reasonable per Gb fees from the first Gb on, and I would agree to such an arrangement. This way, the mom’s and pop’s who only check their emails and occasionally brows the web would be able to save some money, while those who want to use the internet to it’s full potential will be able to do so at a reasonable cost. And the ISP would still be making a decent profit.

    And remember, the internet can, and does do it all… Phone, television, and web services, and at reasonable rates. At least in other countries it does, but I guess not here in Canada it seems…. Welcome to the 1990′s.

    The only true means of leveling the playing field and allowing true competition IMHO, is to nationalize the network as they have done in some European countries and Australia. It seems to be working well for them, so why not in Canada?

  14. …”ISP’s are businesses, not charities, and they have every right to try to maximize their profits”

    Certainly. But as a taxpayer, I also expect a fair return on my tax dollar. Perhaps we should also jack up the cost of the public grounds and access they currently use. You know, the public roads they put the poles on, the underground right of ways, etc, etc. How much do they pay for such usage of taxpayer funded access channels?

    There is a certain give and take involved here, that goes well beyond the simplistic “business models” viewpoint.

    And this might very well be the “handle” with which the public can twist the ISP’s into recognizing that a simplistic profit maximizing business approach isn’t appropriate. Lobby town hall, the mayor’s office, and other local levels of government that control many of these taxpayer controlled resources. Make it easy for a competitor to string new wire/fiber on the poles and underground. Work a deal with the power company for shared poles. Whatever is required.

    The problem we have here, is limited competition. Current regulations make it very difficult for a “new comer” to break into the local market. Many of those regulations are local, close to home.

    Some city governments are recognizing these issues. See the recent Vancouver resolution. The next step is obviously for these city governments to start doing something about it.
    See:
    http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20101216/documents/csbu6.pdf
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/12/canada-we-might-be-americas-hat-but-we-dont-like-caps.ars

    We have city owned trash collection, sewer, water, and even power. Perhaps it’s time for city governments to consider owning their own “last mile” ISP. At the very least, loosen up the regulations and invite in some startup competition.

  15. UBBohemien Rhapsody
    Look what is happening down in the USA, the very same debates. The FCC just passed some legislation to ‘partially’ regulate the net there. Consumers say it’s not far enough and of course big business thinks it goes too far.

    Nothing ever changes … 0_o

  16. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Usage Based Billing Is NOT a “Right”
    @Mark There are two kinds of ISPs. There are the common carriers who are also ISPs and there are Independent ISPs.

    The common carriers (that would be Bell and Rogers) were only able to establish their networks due to government subsidies, special privilege and citizen co-operation. The common carriers aren’t like real businesses, they are more like Canadian charities, because they would not exist in their present form without government special treatment.

    Because the government realized the carrier ISPs were taking advantage of consumers (price gouging, etc,) the government ordered the carriers to make the Internet accessible to independent competitors.

    The Common Carrier ISPs have been charging their own customers UBB. The CRTC says they are allowed to do that without even having to ask. (They didn’t)

    What THIS is about is that the CRTC gave Bell permission to add a new layer of pricing to what they charge the Independent ISPs. In addition to charging the Independent ISPs for the bandwidth they get every month, the CRTC gave Bell permission to charge extra based on the amount of use.

    This means the Independent ISPs are forced to apply the bandwidth caps and the price structure Bell dictates.

    I think this is economically unprecedented. In the real world of business, businesses can’t suddenly change the rules and quadruple the rates without a reason … like added value, or limited supply, etc. The ONLY reason Bell can get away with this ridiculous increase is because the CRTC regulation is backed by the Government.

    So no, when a ridiculous and unjustified rate increase is put in purely because the CRTC is too friendly with the industry it is supposed to be regulating, it is NOT just business, it IS charity. UBB is actually charity that the CRTC (on behalf of our government) is giving to Bell.

    This will be bad for Canada because Canadians will use the Internet less. Which will be bad for Canada’s digital economy. Another side effect is that this government intervention may very well result in putting Independent ISPs out of business, which will put Canada in an even worse situation.

    The CRTC has shown that they are incapable of regulating the Internet, and it seems they aren’t doing very well in anything else. So this would be an excellent time to dissolve the CRTC and replace it with a regulator that (a) understands what is going on and (b) actually looks out for consumers. http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

    We also need to Stop UBB. The best way to do that is to convince the government to overturn the CRTC ruling.
    Probably the best way to do that is to
    http://stopusagebasedbilling.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/write-letters-to-stop-ubb/

  17. concerned_and_aghast says:

    darkages
    CRTC is a laughing stock. It is run by a bunch of folks in their 50′s ad 60′s who have no clue about Technology in general or the changes occurring in the Technological landscape. Instead of recommending policies that would help promote digital practices in Canada, they are doing the exact opposite.
    First there was the throttling issue, then Net Neutrality and now bandwidth cap. Honestly this is akin to sending Canada into the dark ages when the rest of the world is embracing the internet and integrating it in every part of their society, economy and social fabric. Just look at the Nordic Countries or South East Asia, where 25-50MB connections are the norm. Broadband is dirt cheap. They have a strong digital/gaming culture and it’s just a different world altogether. Different in the sense that the likelihood for the next big Technological breakthrough could very well emerge from these countries. HD video, Virtual HD environments, the works. Whilst Canadian are still going to be logging on with their 5 MB connection, waiting to stream a HD video on Youtube.
    I have been closely monitoring these issues for 5-6 years now. NOTHING has changed. CRTC is still subservient to their overlords (Bell/Rogers) and it’s just one big oligopolical mess which is going to results in thwarting innovation.

    I completely agree with darkrew’s comments above. This is not about saving precious bandwidth. Rogers and Bell have an inherent interest, with their huge stake in the cable and satellite markets. If this was Europe, the anti-trust commission would be all over this move. But unfortunately this is Canada and the monopoly wins at the end of the day. This is going to hurt Canada in the long run.

  18. …”If they want true Usage Based Billing (UBB) then charge a reasonable base connection fee and reasonable per Gb fees from the first Gb on, and I would agree to such an arrangement.”

    This isn’t all that bad an idea if you can get the numbers right. I could live with a base rate of $10/month to keep the circuit live (I own my own modem), plus 10-25 cents a GB after that.

  19. I would like to add
    that I don’t think any one wants actual regulation of the internet itself, but rather regulation of what the access providers can and cannot do with your connection to the internet is what is being inferred.

  20. Beerslinger says:

    More Money out of my pocket.
    People complaining about Shaw’s access should try mine on Keta Cable. I get access at 1 mb, It costs $40.00 a month for 12/gb and $10/gb after that. My internet bill was $220.00 last month. That’s with no netflix or itunes store. Mostly just facebook and e-mails… and now it’s most likely going to go up… might be time to say screw the internet and pick up a book.

  21. Mark said:

    If it’s so cheap, why don’t you start your own ISP?

    People would if there were no restrictions like in the web/server hosting world.

    I pay $90 for a dedicated server from Netelligent and get 2TB of bandwidth with $.20 per gb over that. Tiny company compared to SHAW. But then again with web hosting there are 100′s of choice, with internet service providers there’s one for cable internet – SHAW hmmm love all those choices.

  22. >SHAW hmmm love all those choices.

    After some digging I found TekSavvy is offering cable Internet in the Greater Vancouver area. Put in my postal code and says I can have it.

    http://new.teksavvy.com/en/res-internet.asp The site seems to default to ON so if you’re in BC you need to change the province on the TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER

  23. James K. Phillips says:

    I think Internet should be priced like a utility….
    Originallly published: http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=63084&p=2270681#p2270681

    After Google and Verizon came up with a strange interpretation of “net neutrality,” I sat down and came up with my own scheme for usage-based pricing. In my scheme, you are able to pay a premium for guaranteed low-latency bandwidth. With my scheme I envision that most homeowners would buy enough low-latency bandwidth for VOIP and multiplayer games.

    Prices are based on Telecom Decision CRTC 2010-255 (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-255.htm) and bandwidth prices the used to be offered by Axia Internet in Alberta (they have since raise rates and made them harder to find on the website, unless I am mistaken). Cogentco offers bandwidth for $4/Mbit.month, but that may be a low-ball rate.

    Here is how I think Internet access should be priced:
    1. You pay a flat rate for maintaining the connection. It should not be much over $20/month, or however much phone service costs.
    2. You pay per 64kilobit channel for guaranteed, low-latency access. Your ISP honours high priority markers up to that bandwidth. For example, if you just want reliable VOIP, you would purchase 1 or 2 channels. For online gaming, you may want 2 to 4 channels. For hosting a game server, you may want 24 channels (T1 equivalent). These may be relatively expensive, but should not exceed $66/Mbit.month (~$4.24 per 64kb channel). This is (double) the cost of wholesale bandwidth that your ISP will have to provision when is was published in Alberta.
    3. You pay per GB for bulk, “best effort” delivery. $0.75 per GB (Bell excess usage charge) implies the back-end has 17% utilization on average, using the $33/Mb.month figure. Note: any bandwidth already paid for out of your low-latency allotment is “free” because you already paid for it. So, 1 64kb channel would allow you to transfer 16.5GB in a month before incurring any additional charges.

    As for the person asking why I don’t become an ISP: I have been seriously considering it. Consumers don’t have access to “real” Internet access: the Terms Of Service dictate that you are only allowed to use you Internet access for outgoing connections. This means if you want to host a website, you must find a webhost: most will have TOS that dictate that you website has to look like a “normal” website (the lower the price, the more restrictions). If you want to use VOIP, you must find a “middle man” like Skype, which uses a non-standard protocol.

    I don’t want to be an ISP: the margins are low and the big players will do everything they can to squeeze you out. After, CRTC 2009-657 I ran the rough numbers on implementing RFC 1149 with modern technology. Without actually knowing the exact costs of renting space, I estimate I can set up High latency, high bandwidth Internet connections in Alberta with about $3Million in start-up capital (Bell spent $102 Million on its portion of the Alberta Supernet (source: http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/1577.cfm), which should have about the same coverage). The problem, is if I successfully convince large bandwidth users to use my services for weekly back-ups and the like, Bell can under-cut me by charging a lower rate for bandwidth.

  24. ….
    @Mark: “Even if this maneuver is nothing more than a contrived way to inflate prices, ISP’s are businesses, not charities, and they have every right to try to maximize their profits. ”

    Except when it’s about a (natural) monopoly on an utility. And these days Internet has definitely reached the status of utility. So what do you do if Big Private Corp doesn’t behave? Regulate it to death or nationalize it. Remember what happened to Sir Henry Pellatt?

    L.

  25. ….
    @Mark: “If it’s so cheap, why don’t you start your own ISP?”

    That’s exactly what Teksavvy and others did. Except that CRTC ruled that even if they pay for their traffic, Bell could still throttle and cap their clients as they see fit.

    I second the opinion that CRTC should be disbanded and the whole thing regulated through fed/prov laws.

    L.

  26. Internet now in Canada is just pathetic.

  27. James K. Phillips says:

    Correction
    There is no CRTC decision 2009-657; I meant 2010-255. I suspect I am going to have to start reading those decisions to find similar ones.

    As for my RFC 1149 implementation (using avian carriers): it makes a stupid amount of sense, but the bell excess usage charge would still be cheaper:
    Initial cost estimates: 10 cents per GB/km, 1 GB minimum, 10 km minimum.

    Part of the problem is that it is about the same price to *not use the pigeons* because you need a courier to move the pigeons anyway.. Moving 100GB Edmonton-Calgary would cost ~$3000. Canada post can do it for less than $100. For long hauls I may use Canada Post anyway: such distances are hard on the birds, and they don’t fly any faster than Express Post (TM).

  28. UBB is a scam
    ** Want to know what the high level executives at some of the other ISPs are saying about UBB? **

    Matt Stein, vice-president of network services for Primus, calls overage fees “an economic disincentive for internet use since the charges levied by Bell Canada are many, many, many times what it costs to actually deliver it.” (That’s an exact quote from Matt Stein)

    The CEO of Teksavvy said:

    “UBB is pure profit. IP transport of internet data is somewhere between $3 and $10/Mbps for companies like ours…. So doing basic math we’re talking of $3-$10 per 300GB of data… So 1 to 3 pennies per gig of downloading on the Internet transit side.”

    TSI Rocky – TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

    You can find the rest of their comments at DSL Reports.

    Shaw uses misleading information, and tells customers that their limits are generous, and overstates the cost of bandwidth. In fact, bandwidth is 1-3 PENNIES per GB, but Shaw is charging $2 PER GB!

    Funny part is, the infrastructure most of these ISPs use were BUILT WITH CANADIAN TAX DOLLARS! Now they are charging us massive overage fees for using it.

    Shaw, and other Canadian ISPs are using UBB as a method to control access to their competitors, ie: Netflix, Hulu, etc. It is clearly a conflict of interest to allow a TV Broadcaster who is also an ISP, to limit our access to their competition.

    Fight back! Visit http://openmedia.ca/meter and sign the petition. Forward it to your friends, family, and co-workers. We need to act on this, or every single windows update, web page, and email will cost you money.

  29. You should be protesting unfair pricing, not UBB specifically
    There’s nothing inherently wrong with a UBB billing model, but pricing needs to be fair. There are definitely costs associated with users that consume large amounts of bandwidth – they require the ISP to turn up new backbone links, install larger core gear and so on. I don’t see why people are so upset about being asked to pay for their usage, since it clearly impacts the cost of delivering the service. That impact, however, is not huge, and shouldn’t be charged like it is.

    That said, current rates are absurd, and not compatible with UBB at all. As another poster suggests, I believe that Internet access should be treated as a utility. Pay a fixed, fairly low, access cost, and then a fair per-GB fee for whatever bandwidth you use.

    The whole unfair pricing problem stems from the duopoly that exists. I would like to see more government involvement in fixing that problem than a band-aid fix for the current unfair rates (a band-aid fix that will undoubtedly increase *everyone’s* service cost, should it succeed).

    Outlawing UBB is the shortsighted, ineffective attack on what people are actually concerned about: unfair pricing.


  30. @Kennan: “Outlawing UBB is the shortsighted, ineffective attack on what people are actually concerned about: unfair pricing. ”

    Correct.

    Let’s revisit two internet basic plans:

    Bell Essential Plus, 2 GB/month, $26.95 (when not in a bundle):

    http://www.bell.ca/shopping/en_CA_ON.Essential-Plus/DSLTIEPlusNCOONNewMass.details

    Comcast, 250 GB/month, $34.99 (after the first 6 introductory months at $21.99):

    http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Learn/HighSpeedInternet/highspeedinternet.html?INTCMP=ILCCOMCOMHS162957

    Which means that 1 Bell GB = $13.47 and 1 Comcast GB = $0.14. The Bell gigabyte is 96 times more expensive.

    To put it in perspective, it would be like the Canuck gas at the pump would be $96/liter while our neighbors south enjoy it at $1/liter. For no other reason other than “maximizing the profits” as Mark said.

    If we were talking gas, would our government notice that it got at $96/liter????

    Nap.

  31. Absurd
    I’m very confused. Big cable charges me for internet, and extra bandwidth usage. Then charges me for VOIP. Now last time I checked, the VOIP is using bandwidth, effectively charging me twice. And if Rogers calls me on that line, they would be eating up my quota!). Yes, you can argue that VOIP bandwidth is negligible in terms of bandwidth, but Video-OIP is around the corner. It doesn’t make sense. The gov’t makes roads and I pay for them with my taxes, but it includes maintenance and usage. Maybe you can make a case for “high-usage” (such as charging to drive in the downtown core) to resolve “congestion”, but “extra-usage” is really stupid. My local phone service is available 24/7, and if I talk too much, I don’t pay more. If everyone picks up their handset, there might not be service, but we still don’t pay more if we keep trying. Maybe I should file-share over local phone lines, at least there is no fixed+variable charging going on.

  32. Someone wanna buy my house?
    Okay, so the big players own the copper that runs to my house, and the towers which could provide wireless if I don’t want to use the copper. One way or another, they’ve got a monopoly on any connectivity that I might use.

    Given the recent decrease in bandwidth available to me through Shaw, and the imminent prospect of increasing my already high fees, I think that I’ll be doing some ISP shopping. Internet is no longer a luxury for me, unless I want to cut myself off from the world.

  33. kill_netflix says:

    CRTC = Commission for the Rally against Technological Competition
    Follow the money. Do CRTC executives regularly go for golf and lunching sessions with the execs from Bell and Rogers? Cause it surely seems like the sole purpose of CRTC’s existence is to cushion the monopolistic/innovation killing Enterprises.

    Netflix is here, soon Hulu and other content providers will follow suit. What are Rogers and Bell going to do then. The writing is on the wall. Change is Technological progress means death to the business model for the Rogers and Bell monopoly. They have done nothing ….absolutely nothing in terms of innovation during the past 20 years. This is just a desperate measure to keep competition out. Whether the competition is third part ISP’s or content provider. This is going to take out the third party isp’s. content providers will avoid Canada as they wont be able to make appropriate profits to expand their marketshare. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to rent a blueray as opposed to paying 8$ to download it (2$ @ 16 gig image).

    this is a death sentence for digital rationality in Canada. Wake up Canada!

  34. kill_netflix says:

    Bell and Rogers agent
    seems like bell and rogers representatives are reading michael’s blog. i see comments that are trying to make some sort of a twisted logic out of this whole debacle.

    1) how can an agreement be changed without any explicit approval from the customer? Imagine if you bought a car, but tomorrow the dealership comes and tells you that you can only put 40 litres of gas in your car any given week. And if you want to put more gas in your car then you have to pay us (dealership|). This will help reduce traffic congestion on the road. Absolutely ridiculous!

    2) Here’s an article from 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6900697.stm
    broadband usage rates keep dropping across the globe. Canada wants to go in the opposite direction.

    Data is not a utility. Usage based billing does not make any sense. Usage is not crippling the network infrastructure. The monopolies keep on churning profits. It is a greedy and selfish move with the sole intent of killing competition and dumbing down the nation. I say dumbing down, because Canadians are going to start restricting their online activities to mediocre services. No HD video, less voip, think twice about using video voip, less gaming. Its a ripple affect, where the consumer would stop spending money in these categories as well.

  35. kill_netflix says:

    South Korea is laughing
    somewhere in south korea, someone is watching this whole debacle and laughing at Canada and the CRTC

  36. kill_netflix says:

    anti-trust : disband CRTC, investigate Rogers and Bell
    CRTC serves no useful purpose. Lets start a rally to disband it

    This ordeal has anti-competitive move written all over it. why arent rogers and bell being investigated with anti-trust measures. oh wait, i forgot. this is canada and we prefer monopolies over innovation and competition

  37. kill_netflix says:

    CRTCs mantra
    kill competition, kill innovation, dont care about the consumer.

    makes sense if you look at the background of CRTCs senior management. all of them are former telecom execs!

  38. kill_netflix says:

    bell and big govt
    Bell has a government-sanctioned monopoly over the lines that were largely paid for by taxpayers, and smaller ISPs have no choice but to bend over backward for Bell.

    An ISP should definitely not be put in charge of leasing our lines to their competing ISPs, since that’s a giant conflict of interest. To make it even worse, Bell sells satellite TV, so Internet streaming isn’t in their best interest either. The CBC got screwed by this a while ago when they tried to broadcast a TV show via bittorrent, and Bell shaped the hell out of it. netflix could end up the same. oh wait…that will never happen because now you have a 40G plan, which is only good for checking your hotmail, download 10 songs from itunes each week and watching the occasional clip on youtube

    The CRTC controls this problem with regulation, and their approach as been flawed througout the times. Our lines are a shared resource, like roads. The government should buy them from Bell and lease them out to ISPs in a non-discriminatory way. This is done for the wireless spectrum, why should broadband be any different.

  39. kill_netflix says:

    neanderthal internet
    to quote someone from slashdot : $1+ per GB is insane. In civilized countries you can get unlimited 4G internet for that sort of money.

  40. kill_netflix says:

    dmca
    DMCA is next

    welcome to the dark ages Canada


  41. @kill_netflix: “This is done for the wireless spectrum, why should broadband be any different.”

    I beg to differ. The current wireless spectrum auction is a farce. You lease it to the highest bidder whom later will recoup that money from the customers + a hefty profit.

    It’s like instead of trying to find the least expensive snow removal service, you auction your driveway to the highest bidder who leases it for the winter, and charges you back the lease + a huge profit.

    This way you ensure that the price paid is the maximum possible lol.

    As for wireless, the spectrum should be free and leased to the “bidder” who engages to offer over it the best service at the lowest price.

    Nap.

  42. James K. Phillips says:

    Why my UBB proposal is “neutral”.
    @kill_netflix: I’m not sure whom you think the Bell/Rodgers agents are, but you can tell I am not a PR person: look at all my speling mistakes :)

    I understand that historically, the Internet worked best when you treated each packet equally. The problem is that you can’t do that *and* implement Quality of service routines to prioritize low latency connections. One thing that always irked me about Quality of Service is that the user is not required to choose between low latency and low bandwidth.

    Currently, the various ISPs are using QoS or even virtual circuits to prioritize their own “triple play” packages (TV/Phone/Internet); even though all are now digital and packet-switched. This has the effect of degrading Internet service by either taking bandwidth away (with virtual circuits) or pushing the Internet packets to the back of the line (with QoS). This can have the effect of locking you into your ISP’s Phone and TV service by degrading all competing services.

    When I wrote my UBB proposal above, I had net neutrality in mind. Everybody gets at least 1 64kbps channel (dial-up speed) of bandwidth where they have priority if they ask for it. If you ask for more than you pay for, the excess packets are stuffed in the “best-effort” queue like normal internet packets. The best effort queue would be “first come, first served”, after all the priority packets are sent.

    If everybody behaves (users only asking of low latency when needed, ISP provisioning enough raw bandwidth), there will always be room left over for best-effort delivery. The important point here is that the ISP is compensated directly for improving the backbone bandwidth. With flat-rate billing, the ISP has a strong incentive to neglect that backbone and blame the heavy users if they can get away with it. When you are not using your guaranteed bandwidth completely, your neighbour can get his “best effort” packets a little faster. When you neighbour is not using his guaranteed bandwidth completely, your “best effort” packets get delivered faster.

    Note: worst-case congestion will be your guaranteed bandwidth allotment, since the ISP provisions this directly. In practice, not everybody will be downloading at the same time, so you can expect “burstable” bandwidth similar to current offerings. The whole point of an ISP is that people can pool their resources to share a fat pipe.

  43. James K. Phillips says:

    I case is wasn’t clear, I find bandwidth caps below that 16.5GB/month figure stupid. In my proposal, if you wanted to move 300GB, without paying $0.75 for each one, you would request 19 64kbit channels (1.2 Mbit) at the begining of the month. This would cost you $80.56 instead of $225 for bandwidth, using the above figures.

    Note: I think those prices are high, but I am not in the industry, so don’t know how much it would really cost.


  44. @James: “Currently, the various ISPs are using QoS or even virtual circuits to prioritize their own “triple play” packages (TV/Phone/Internet); even though all are now digital and packet-switched.”

    Except Bell. TV is delivered via radio waves (satellite) and Phone and Internet over copper lines. The landline bandwidth is separated in the analog domain (voice spectrum = phone, higher frequencies = internet, remember the filters you install in front of your phone when you want to use a DSL modem). So no matter how much you shout in the phone it doesn’t affect the Internet packets in any way.

    And there’s no “QoS” that can prioritize one service over the other. Unless you start mixing things like trying to deliver TV via Internet DSL link or something like that.

    Nap.

  45. ….
    So instead of us just bickering about this amongst ourselves where it won’t do anything… Is there anything we can do?
    The government should be stepping in because we’re just falling farther and farther behind.

  46. James K. Phillips says:

    @Nap: Telus is doing just that with their “Optik” TV http://www.telus.com/?intcmp=ILCtv_optik

    I don’t know if they are using virtual circuits or just marking the TV packets high priority.

    The Shaw home phone is an IP telephone. They are moving all of their subscribers to digital TV, to the shegrin of some of their cable subscribers. Just because you are not using a computer to watch it doesn’t mean it’s not packet-switched.

  47. Graham Fletcher says:

    UBB is implemented to dissuade users of Netflix and iTunes,and to slow down downloading, legal or not, because this is competition for the ILEC pay-per-view content they spent billions acquiring, imho..

  48. Who watches the watchmen
    This all reeks of corruption at the CRTC. Ultimately, they are the ones allowing the oligarchy to write their own ticket.

  49. The current ISP pipes to residential properties (Rogers, Bell, Videotron, Cogeco, Shaw, Telus etc) have had a monopoly for their services in regions that they serve. In other words, Rogers would have a region and Shaw ould not be able to sell their product in that Rogers region.

    This was essentially competitive protection from the government for these companies.

    Additionally, there are wires and a utility pole that carries Bell lines in my backyard, but they do not pay me any rent. This is because they are allowed to have this on people’s private property and for some reason, it is not considered trespassing when they go through my yard to access the telephone pole.

    The rights of individuals are secondary to these companies and the rules that allow them to operate have never taken into consideration the rights of the general public.

    This Usage Based Billing is just another step in the general public being treated as second class by the CRTC and the government as a whole, because of the lobbiest budgets that exist.

    The fact that the wireless providers charged System Access Fees and continue to do so (under a different name) for both wireless and some digitial television packages is a shame.

    I am sticking with my smaller ISP, that really just a reseller of services from other companies, but it makes me feel better.

    This is a topic that is close to my heart and I would love to see people start talking about the following issus.
    a) Service Level Agreements – currently it is best effort for consumer service
    b) Capacity – If the networks were built for the capacity that they are selling, then there would not be a need to throttle
    c) Paying for speed that is available – the major ISPs want to charge based on speed, as well as bandwidth, if I don’t get the speed promised 100% of the time, why do I have to pay 100% of what they are charging me?

    I think there is no political will to change any of this and the ISPs will get what they want and the general public will suffer.

  50. john walker says:

    In France the rail tracks are publicly owned, but any commercial organisation can compete to offer privately run trains, running on the publicly owned tracks

    Systems of national fiber optic cables networks possibly are ,like rail tracks , what is called a ‘natural monopoly’ , duplicating them is capital costly/wasteful and the public benefits of competition are limited.
    It makes good economic sense for Natural monopolies to be publicly owned. ( there is a proviso – there are a lot less natural monopolies than many think)

  51. I love every thing in Canada… this is just the first thing I hate :(
    I am very much new to Canada and love every thing here. I love Winter and the minus -20 temperature too!

    This is the first thing I absolutely hate. I love my freedom and don’t want to have companies tell me how my TV/phone should be.

  52. Letter to my cable company.
    Dear Shaw, We the people of Canada own the ground you put your cables in and the air you send you send your wireless in. By the grace of the people you run your business. If you intend to raise prices for service based on usage then the Canadian people should raise the rent on the land you put your cables in by usage as well. If you keep raising the price then we should have you put your cables somewhere else. Like nowhere.

  53. Tom (Kingston) says:

    Public needs to own the Copper and Fibre Lines
    The solution is simple, the Federal, Provincial, Municipal Governments buy the copper and fibre lines and make Bell and Rogers Independent ISP similar to TekSavvy and the rest. Its a free open market that will decide who will survive. This will also free up landlines for fare competition. Reduce the subsidies offered to Bell over the years to repay the tax payer for initiating the lines and all is fare. The CRTC needs to be overhauled. Once the lines belong to the public as it should be, pricing will eventually come down hopefully so we can stay competitive with the rest of the world.

    For the love of God All levels of Government wake up and do something for the future of this Great Nation if you still want to be relevant. Peace

  54. Yadwinder Sidhu says:

    Stop UBB Now!
    It costs an ISP *pennies* to send a GB of data. There is no reason they should charge us $2 per GB.

    SHAW CUSTOMERS: Just as Shaw began charging overage fees, they also reduced your caps by 30%, without telling you! If you ask them about it, they will lie, and say that your higher cap was only there due to a pilot in edmonton. This is FALSE. It’s a cash-grab. Don’t fall for it.

    When your TV provider is your ISP, there is a major conflict of interest, because they have the ability to limit your access to THEIR competition by making it far too expensive to use anyone’s services other than their own. Cable TV is losing thousands of customers yearly, and this is their method of forcing you back to Cable.

    No other country in the world is moving towards UBB. The few that actually have it, are moving AWAY from UBB. Wake up! Sign the petition at http://openmedia.ca/meter

    Write hardcopy letters, and send them to your MP, Mayor, and the CRTC. Fax them. Mail them. (They just discard emails in a junk folder and ignore your complaints)

  55. f0r0ne@yahoo.com
    I’m with those who think that because bandwidth is not cheap or inexhaustible, “metering” is inevitable, and I’m mainly concerned to see there is enough competition to ensure that there is no abuse by the major telcos.

    By the way, using NoScript with FireFox on a netbook, I’m getting all kinds of sidebar stuff on Prof. Geist’s page that crowds into the text of his blog and obscures it from reading (and an amazing, almost commercial, number of scripts revealed by the add-on for this site.) Maybe just a formatting issue.


  56. @Yadwinder: “Write hardcopy letters, and send them to your MP, Mayor, and the CRTC. Fax them. Mail them.”

    I’ve heard that the postal office will throttle our mail to 1 per day per person, for a maximum of 15 letters per month.

    nap. :-)

  57. Yadwinder Sidhu says:

    Ok come on, wake up!
    “I’m with those who think that because bandwidth is not cheap or inexhaustible, “metering” is inevitable”

    But… Bandwidth *IS* cheap, and it *IS* inexhaustible! So what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense.

    And this implementation isn’t TRUE UBB. If it were, they would charge us a reasonable flat rate per month, plus .05 cents per GB, and we’d pay for it as we would a utility. This just isn’t the case. They are charging us 100x what it costs them, once the infrastructure is in place, and by the way, Canadians paid for that infrastructure they’re using!

    UBB is a scam, but the least you can do is not fall for the ISPs lies. Don’t be taken advantage of by accepting what the ISPs are saying as gospel. It’s financially motivated, and designed to prevent you from accessing THEIR competitors, ie: Netflix.

  58. Sorry Sidhu
    For historical and financial reasons we have major telco control of the internet wire infrastructure, and there is a continual evolution in how much data can be packed over phone or cable lines. We’re in fact at one of those junctures where data demands can impair quality of service for all, if every consumer is given unlimited bandwidth at a commmon flat rate, because some consumers are using a whole lot more than others, and the system isn’t up to it.

    I’d rather be sure of decent service for my 30GB/month than worry about an increase for users of 100+GB/month. A sufficiently competitive industry would work to adjust pricing according to technology as it develops, rather than degrade service for all in the name of some weird notion that bandwidth is unlimited in supply.

  59. kill_netflix says:

    Beg to differ
    @Albin

    Your statement is flawed. So:
    1) If QoS if affected then
    a) where is the proof to back of this statement
    b) why do we still have third world broadband service for 3x the price.
    c) why dont you enact policies so that users who exceed a certain (reasonably allocated ) limit are charged a rate that both the customer and the ISP can agree upon. Instead of a blanket policy that would kibosh everything in it’s path.

    This move will:
    a) Curb Innovation : Refer to my notes above for an educational explanation
    b) Only re-affirm the fact that the Canadian Government and CRTC are not working for the people, but the innovation killing/big/fat/dumb monopolies
    c) And it is akin to sending Canada to the third world of a digital era.

  60. kill_netflix says:

    Buy back the lines
    I agree with the statement above. The government needs to buy back all the lines from BIG ISP’s. Only then can you somewhat ensure an open and honest ecosystem where everyone come and play on equal terms.

    Again, this perhaps is the worst move when it relates to the digital history of Canada. This move will squeeze out the customer base of the third party ISP’s. And it will only strengthen the monopolistic empire. Meaning = 1) Price gouging 2) Lack of innovative products and services resulting into Canada being left behind in the digital world.

    Soon kids from South Korea and the Nordic countries will start Virtual Universities in High Definition. Meanwhile Canadian will be thinking twice about downloading a clip off Youtube(HD), just so it doesn’t trip them over their bandwidth allocation for that month

  61. kill_netflix says:

    Not from Bell
    And for the person above who claims that they are not working for Bell Canada, I only have this to say to you:
    “A guilty conscience needs to confess”

  62. kill_netflix says:

    Writing on the wall
    Folks,

    I’ve said this before and I will say it again. This is not about bandwidth allocation or usage. This is not about data transmission rates from third party ISP, chewing into the profit margins of BIG ISP.

    Rather, this has everything to do with greed and trying to put a hold on all forms of new and open communication.

    Now that I am getting warmed up, why don’t you grab a cup of hot chocolate on this Frigid Monday evening and let me enlighten you about what is really going on in the digital landscape of Canada.

    1- Let’s take a step back and looking at some of the more recent trends across North America. These trends include, but are not limited to:
    a) Customers getting rid of their landlines in favor of their all you can eat (use) cell phone package.
    b) Customers getting rid of their landlines for VOIP (voice over IP) services. This includes a number of services from Vonage to Magic Jack and everything in between
    c) Customers getting rid of their cable connection because all of the channels are cr*p. You can get much better/funnier content off of Youtube, Netflix and a variety of other online services
    d) Relating to Internet connections, there are so many customers that have left and are leaving Rogers and Bill for third party ISP’s. You get much better customer services and you are not gouged for money in virtue of being offered a crappy/throttled/capped service

    Now Rogers and Bell have fought very hard for the past 6-7 years. Since their business model is based on the notion of bundled services and they have an inherent interest in offering all these different services. They have seen this coming for a while now.

    First, with the help of their friend in little/big government and the CRTC, they tried to enact the anti-throttling initiatives. They were successful in doing so. Next came Net Neutrality and it seems like Canada in general just followed the same strategy based on what the concensus was south of the border. Whether the policy made any sense for a digitally strong and enabled Canada or not. It doesn’t matter. Canada decided not to put on it’s thinking hat and decided to follow US. Now the situation is going from bad to worse for these big oligopolies as they are losing business in every category. They know they have lost to the content providers of the future. There is no way on earth Rogers and Bell can compete with the nimble and relatively inexpensive business operations of Netflix and Google. Netflix chips are built-in within every new TV that is manufactured. Google is very selective in products that they are looking to seriously focus upon and GoogleTV seems to be one of those plans. Just like the Android OS.

    So again, the writing is on the wall for these big oligopolies. There is no way on earth that they can compete with these nimble services. Like I said, they are just to big, fat and dumb to compete! So what do they do. They come up with a plan with their friends at CRTC to put forth usage based billing. The mantra goes…”well guys we lost anyways. Might as well make sure that our retirement funds are taken care of”. This is the beginning of the end for Rogers and Bell.

    Citizens need to join together and work against these monopolistic, innovation killing, price gouging extortion-ism. This is not just about a bigger/fatter internet bill. Our digital future can be severely impaired by these monopolistic policies.

    Get together, spread the world and resist these moves at all cost. Start looking at alternate solutions and technologies to counter measure these acts of extortion-ism. There are technologies available (www.meraki.com) to put forth solutions to get around these draconian policies.

    Rise up! Your future depends on the actions you take

  63. James K. Phillips says:

    Tip of the iceberg
    I am very concerned that consumer Internet is one-way (read your terms of service). This means you are not able to just set up a personal website on a spare machine. You have to use third-parties to relay your VOIP because you are not allowed to host a VOIP gateway.

    In the fall of 2009 I was shopping around for Canadian webhosting: I was surprised by the number of “TOS” agreements that restrict specific protocols like bittorrent and IRC. The cheaper hosting plans even dictate how your website should look.

    I am convinced the powers that be *want* Internet video to remain expensive; even for large organizations like the CBC. It raises the barriers to entry and discourages self-publication. Protocols like Bittorrent make it possible to share large files on a home Internet connection. Why would you need to find a publisher for digital distribution if bandwidth is cheap? To add insult to injury, the “powers that be” can use technologies like DLNA (including DTCP and UPnP) to allow large distributor implementing DRM to take advantage of the same or similar protocols with little user intervention.

  64. James K. Phillips says:

    Note: the “stick” can be fear of liability for those TOS policies, not some explicit collusion. In fact, the terms are diverse enough, I think most were arrived at independently.

    The CIRA requires indemnity for a .ca domain name. One thing I have noticed is that everybody down the chain copies that indemnity clause. So you run into a situation where you registrar and webhost also request indemnity. If I get a nasty letter for the CRIA or similar organization, I face paying 4 lawyers for an hour of their time: One for me, on for the webhost, one for the registrar, and one for the CIRA. At $300/hr each, that is $1200 for what may be a frivolous letter. Coincidentally, $300/month is about where the price of no strings Internet starts, almost regardless of bandwidth.

    But, it gets worse: even if you don’t want to host a website, you are still subject to this liability. If you post on a website, or even request a book from the library*, you may be asked to provide this indemnity. The reason is that website have started stuffing the same indemnity language in their Terms of service. In effect, a “Free” website can end up costing you as a contributer a lot of money. (Add another $300/hr to the above total)

    *http://epl.bibliocommons.com/info/terms
    Section 12


  65. You know, the biggest problem with UBB is not the question of fairness, it’s more that it has many of the same issues that plagues C-32. It protects an out of date business model to the detriment of the consumer. Unfortunately, for most, Internet has attained the level of necessity of the likes of gasoline, electricity, home heating, etc. It should be regulated appropriately. We have users like Shrapnel, Mark and Albin who have not idea what they’re talking about. We’re in a very elite list of countries that actually implement bandwidth caps. Few countries use bandwidth caps and we pay some of the highest prices in world, often 3 or 4 times higher than similar plans in Europe and the US. In Canada we are a very large country and relatively small population so I don’t consider fiber to every house to be a feasible option…in the major centers, sure. But you know, expecting no cap is not unreasonable. I’m already paying $65/mo for 60G of bandwidth and I get a pauldry 3.2mbps down and 512kbps up. The cap is merely a means of trying to keep out competition such as Netflix, Pandora and Hulu.

    I know a lot of people from Europe, Asian and Eastern Arabic countries and this, along with our extremely limited and expensive cell plans are among the biggest complaints I hear over and over agian.

    Overall, UBB is truely a technological step backward and further makes Canada a laughing stock on the international Internet level.

  66. IamME
    Australia is also big and thinly populated, the government is spending 40+ billion on fiber to the node , to 90% of all households.
    Not every body is happy about this, but it is what gained the Support of the independents that hold the balance of power in the house of reps.

  67. @john walker
    At least Australia is forward thinking. Canada keeps stepping backward. More limits, higher prices, same old architecture. I doubt I’ll have any more than I have now. I suppose if I put a tower up I could get up to 5.2mbps, but with a 60G cap I can burn through that quite effectively with the 3.2mbps.

    In any case, the current Canadian government is controled by corporations and foreign governments. Until that changes, we can’t even hope to see any imporvemetns in our Internet service. We’ll continue to pay among the highest prices for what most of the world would consider to be a substand service.

  68. @john walker
    At least Australia is forward thinking. Canada keeps stepping backward. More limits, higher prices, same old architecture. I doubt I’ll have any more than I have now. I suppose if I put a tower up I could get up to 5.2mbps, but with a 60G cap I can burn through that quite effectively with the 3.2mbps.

    In any case, the current Canadian government is controled by corporations and foreign governments. Until that changes, we can’t even hope to see any imporvemetns in our Internet service. We’ll continue to pay among the highest prices for what most of the world would consider to be a substand service.


  69. Firefox screwup…

  70. BootToTheHead says:

    Satire seems more like the truth than real life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3n466POrIE

    Take a watch — oh, wait, you’re being metered.

  71. kill_netflix says:

    well said IamMe
    “In any case, the current Canadian government is controled by corporations and foreign governments. Until that changes, we can’t even hope to see any imporvemetns in our Internet service. We’ll continue to pay among the highest prices for what most of the world would consider to be a substand service. “

  72. Perpetuation of the Megopolies lock on our lives.
    I estimate that I would go over my cap by at least 30 GB a month (if not more), to download all the TV shows I watch now – not including any movies. If I dropped basic cable TV today, I would pay $45 a month for internet and at least $60 in over charges all before taxes. Is that not interesting that I will end up paying more then if I just keep basic cable at a bundled fee of $79 a month. These new fees are purely a government backed anticompetitive pricing.

    This makes using a service like Netflix or AppleTV very unattractive and that is what our Canadian cable companies what and got.

    AND is it not interesting how this is getting little to no coverage on Canadian TV news, which is now mostly under the control of who, the big cable companies themselves.

  73. Go Go Gopher says:

    The NDP are off track but could focus on choice. Most consumers would choose to not be on a network with bandwidth hogs.
    First this shouldn’t be political, it’s a technical issue. Once someone starts over using and the network segment becomes full then the cost of upgrading make the costs go way up. It’s only when people do not fill the segments that its cheap. Think of a river system. The problem only come when a creek or river over fill the river bank that there is a problem, and then it is a very expensive problem.

    What the politicians should focus on is choice for the consumer. Large ISPs should have to offer two services, managed and unmanaged. Given a choice would you rather have the telecom engineer look the other way for bandwidth hogs or keep them in check so they do not fill up the segments you may want to use. Bandwidth hogs will say no, no don’t touch it and then they sign the petitions 200 times with phoney signatures and the rest of us pay for them. This type of billing is long over due.

  74. To me, it’s about Democracy!
    I like Mark’s differing perspective. We are in a free market… er wait… we’re trying to operate in a free market economy and it is everybody’s right to go out and maximize profits or sell your car for more instead of less etc… I think that perspective is all but abandoned in all these websites howling at “Big Cable”.

    But ya: they do have a monopoly and like the utility companies, they have to be regulated and CRTC dropped the ball. No doubt.

    But besides the monopoly thing: democracy is threatened by this decision. If larger interests (in this case the big, bad corporations) can exert an unfair influence on how and who can use the internet, that gives them control of the flow of information. (Admittedly: just like it is now. Corporations have the resources to own and support the media. It’s not a good thing. Our ostensibly unbiased media culture is dependent on the diminishing commitment of media executives to choose the good of the community over the bottom line… I’ve seen it happen but…)

    So to me, that’s the great promise of the internet: a place where nobody has undue influence on the flow of information. UBB kills that… slowly, insidiously and imperceptibly taking us down the same road we’re on today.

    So ya: sign the stop the meter campaign for whatever reason you want but this is not only a business screwing consumer issue. It goes deeper in my opinion. So if you’re a Bloor St, right wing upper class elite with big bucks invested in Rogers, Shaw, Bell, etc… sign it to save the free market democratic system that you believe in! Sorry if I’m getting maudlin here but this is a socioeconomic system my ancestors died for.

  75. Russ Hunter says:

    Credit Reporting Agencies and Bell, Rogers and Telus
    I’d like to see some research cross referencing up charges and nasty fees these monopolistic media monsters are charging with Credit Reporting companies. I’d also like to see some sort of regulation that restricts unionize groups that actually own majority stakes in the companies with record setting profits from striking or demanding cost of living increases when it’s their unions and nefarious marketing and billing that creates half of the waste and unemployment.


  76. @Russ: Only two of the three companies you mentioned have unions.

  77. Who watches the watchmen?
    I wonder if the members of the CRTC are bound to declare their private investments in the industry of communications. Since their decision is highly beneficial to Bell, Rogers and Telus (whose stocks rose steadily in the wake of that decision), I would like to know if all those responsible for making the decision were clear of any conflict of interest.

  78. Mickey Hickey says:

    User Based Billing for all
    UBB has merit but as always the devil is in the details.
    My main concern is that the service providers will favour their own content and will allow unlimited TV streaming (or other content) for a flat rate without charging for bits transported. There are many ways they can game the system to their advantage and they will, profit has to be maximized in order to justify exorbitant bonuses.

    So there has to be a cast iron solid system in place, too simple to be gamed or it will be gamed. Hundreds of millions are spent on lobbyists who are wining and dining and making “campaign” contributions o politicians and to the people who can influence politicians in Ottawa.

    The CRTC is not to blame, I saw a comment where a politician told a constituent that his hands are tied because the CRTC is an “arms length” institution. In fact the CRTC is an institution that has Parliament’s thumbs on its windpipe and the thumbs squeeze any time it appears that consumers might get a break.

    Up to now the Conservatives and the Liberals have unreservedly catered to oligopolies and monopolies. Such is the power of the moneyed interests.

    The consumers can benefit from UBB if the ground rules are set up after extensive public consultation. Items to be considered are base rate taking into account speed and cap $22.50 per month with a 5GB cap with a deduction of $10 per month if VOIP does not function at all times. Presently throttling is killing VOIP. The foregoing takes care of the modestly well off. The overage should be a flat rate per Gb whether it one Gb or hundreds of Gb. If the companies have to be regulated based on Return on Investment (ROI) to avoid gouging then do that.

    Presently I am paying almost $60 per month for a service that is crippled for part of the day every day. I want a system that forces the Carriers to actually carry traffic or their incomes are impinged.

    Free means nothing but airiness and fairyness.

  79. Mully and Skulder says:

    Super Clement
    Looks like we need another intervention from Super Clement.

    May the acid of a trillion lemons slowly begin to dissolve the CRTC so that we may be free some day.

  80. The Only Solution!
    I warned people 2 years ago that Bell was going to kill the Internet revolution in Canada for the 21st century! This was when Bell complained that it didn’t have enough bandwidth space and chose to throttle Canadians 10 hours per day! That forced all 3rd party ISP’s (including mine) to offer less high-speed DSL/day but the ISP’s still charged an average of $40/month. At that time I said the CRTC should revoke Bell’s rights to wiring the country because by contract, Bell is supposed to maintain enough supply to meet the demands of its national customer base. Bell needs to be forced to split in two entities, have a separate CRTC license for phone service and one license for Internet. This way Bell would be forced to create an Internet only wire rather than piggyback the Internet on the same wire as its phone wire. Bell doesn’t want to spend its money into expanding its infrastructure (poor little cry babies), so I predicted that eventually Bell would force everyone to reduce their usage! If that happens, you can kiss good-bye to the high-tech industry in Canada! Also in terms of the Internet, in 20 years Canada’s high tech based economy will be the equivalent of a third world country. The only way to solve this problem is for the CRTC to give separate licenses for phone and Internet (via wire delivery to the consumer), in this way other companies could bring in Internet only service to your home and it would be very competitive. It would be very easy this way for multiple companies to build their own infrastructure for limited areas and thus, have plenty of bandwidth to provide very high-speed DSL (at least 5 times faster than we have now), with no throttling and no caps on usage. Until we end Bell’s monopoly via the blessing of the CRTC by permitting the delivery of Internet service on the same wire as telephone–nothing will change!

  81. kill monopoly market
    Let more players into the Canadian market see how well Rogers “robbers” and Bell do

  82. Umbreon1960 says:

    Canada is the laughing stock of the world
    Truly, we are the laughing stock of the world where internet and related telecommunications services are concerned:

    1) Not only have we allowed a oligopoly to grow and prosper, but with the recent ruling by the CRTC (itself the laughing stock of the world) we have allowed the oligopoly entities (bell, shaw, rogers, cogeco) to strengthen their grip, cut out their competition and further gouge their client base.

    2) we have a laughable state of infrastructure, low speeds and exorbitant pricing for what we receive.

    3) we have the slowest download speeds, and most expensive internet of the G8, G10 and G20.

    There is more I could add. I read a comment by “Mark” dd Jan 22 and I could only conclude he either a) lives in a bubble, b) is stupid, c) works for one of the oligopoly or d) all of the preceding. He certainly has no knowledge of how much our taxes and specific fees on past billing have historically contributed to the current oligopoly position and infrastructure. My suggestion Mark, keep your mouth shut so you don’t show us all how ignorant you are of the facts.

    In telecommunications services and delivery to the retail public, Canada is the banana republic of all banana republics.

    Its disgraceful, and if we allow the CRTC and this current govt to proceed with the current UBB, I suggest a revolution may be in order.

  83. Bell/Rogers, this is how you can make more money. People, this is how you can save money.
    To Bell/Rogers:
    1. Stop wasting your breath with UBB.
    2. Stop wasting resources monitoring and capping usage.
    3. Stop spamming me with your stupid ads.
    4. Realize you’re competing on price, so lower it, or provide better service to gain customers.

    To regular Joe:
    1. Cancel your tv cable/satellite and go OTA. Find all the other shows you need online.
    2. Pay for a tv tuner, and hard drive, ditch the PVR.
    3. Go with the underdogs ISPs, like TekSavvy, or Primus.

    To the Gov’t,
    A regular citizen needs to be able to be allocated a range of frequency to set up their own local network within their neighborhood (better than 802.11n, similar to 802.16). From their, we can bridge over to other neighborhoods / networks if needed. If all your neighbors want to bypass ISP, anyone can lay all the wire and hook everyone up.

  84. re: elmsley
    elmsley,

    That is exactly what I have done. And I encourage everyone to do the same

    In addition to that, we should all band together and share our bandwidth.

    In addition to that, let’s Start your own ISP’s by incorporating services like http://meraki.com/

  85. and life is a nightmare
    Well…citizens joining together to pool their bandwidth is not the solution. CRTC’s decision is foolish and ill-thought. The high-end price to push 1GB worth of data is a single cent. The cap introduced is 25 GB and additional charges are going to be incurred @2$ per GB. A single cent vs 2$ to push a GB. Wow, I doubt that we have seen that level of extortionism ever. The oil industry is probably watching and taking a cue from the CRTC/Bell/Rogers alliance.

    This will kill the following service, like literally kill the business model and services:
    Netflix
    Google Tv / Hulu(dead before arrival in Canada)
    Steam

    Independent game development
    Work from home strategies for app developers, data base admins and millions of Canadians who work from home

    25 GB amounts to the following:
    2 movies in blueray format + 50 clips from Youtube in HD + 1000 emails with 2MB attachment + 2 games downloaded from steam.

    This is bad

  86. @ Mark
    The real thing that stings, is that Bell Canada’s network was built by tax payer dollars. That’s right, you and I paid for the infrastructure. In return they were regulated to prevent anti-competitive practices. These regulations are steadily being waived. Ultimately this means there is little to no distinction between Bell Canada’s services and that of any other DSL provider.

    It’s allowing Bell Canada an essential monopoly off of infrastructure for which they weren’t subject to the capital cost. The real issue is allowing last mile configurations which should be considered essential services to be operated by private companies. Unfortunately, we’ve had issues with government run essential services as well. Fortunately we can use our vote to impact corruption in government. We have no vote for private companies, and we certainly can’t use our dollars as they operate an essential monopoly on last mile connections.