Archive for February, 2011

Clearing Up the Confusion over the Caps

Appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on February 4, 2011 as Clearing up the Confusion over the Caps Caps on Internet service – referred to as usage based billing (UBB) – took the political world by storm this week with over 350,000 Canadians signing a petition calling for an end to […]

Read more ›

February 7, 2011 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

The CRTC’s Faulty UBB Foundation: Why There is Reason to Doubt the Review

The controversy over the CRTC’s usage based billing decisions took centre stage yesterday with an Industry Committee hearing and comments from politicians from all parties. After Industry Minister Tony Clement earlier advised that the government would send the CRTC back to the drawing board on UBB if the Commission did not do so itself, Chair Konrad von Finckenstein told the Industry Committee that the CRTC was delaying implementation of the decision by at least 60 days and that it would review it to “verify” that it protects consumers, ensures that heavy Internet users pay for their “excess use” and that small ISPs retain maximum flexibility.  Yet immediately after the hearing, Clement told reporters that “regardless of the outcome of that review the ruling will not be implemented.”

While this suggests that review will be theatre, there is considerable reason to be skeptical of the review on both procedural and substantive grounds (I will leave to the side those who will claim that this is all just political pandering to consumers – Clement has a mixed record in that regard: solid on telecom and spam, weak on copyright given the digital lock rules in Bill C-32).  Many in the media have begun to question whether the public realizes that this specific dispute only directly affects some independent ISPs.  I think the answer is no.  However, after yesterday’s hearing, I am left with the sense that the CRTC does not realize it either.  In von Finckenstein’s effort to defend UBB, he failed to recognize that there is a world of difference between supporting the choice of an ISP to implement UBB and a regulatory model that leaves an ISP with no other alternative.  The CRTC’s UBB decisions are wrong not because UBB is wrong, but because they undermine the potential for competitors to make alternative choices.


Read more ›

February 4, 2011 79 comments News

CRTC Delays Implementation of UBB Decision

CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein has told a House of Commons committee that the CRTC will delay implementation of the usage based billing decision by at least 60 days.  The CRTC says it will review the decision with an eye to protecting consumers, ensuring that heavy users pay for their […]

Read more ›

February 3, 2011 69 comments News

Three Cents Per Gigabyte

Hugh Thompson has an interesting column on the actual bandwidth costs for ISPs.  He cites one provider that three cents per gigabyte is the likely cost.  Even assuming a ten cents per gigabyte “inflated cost”, that still represents as much as a 50X markup given that some providers charge $5 […]

Read more ›

February 3, 2011 18 comments News

AUCC Post C-32 Position Paper: Focus on Fair Dealing and Digital Locks

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has posted its position paper on Bill C-32.  The AUCC is calling for the six factor test from the Supreme Court to be incorporated into fair dealing and for the bill “to permit the breaking of digital locks for any purpose that […]

Read more ›

February 3, 2011 4 comments News