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 excess usage, and that small ISPs retain maximum flexibility to innovate in the marketplace.


  1. Good news, but…
    “Ensure that heavy users pay for their excess usage” based on the cost of the GB or the market price set by telcos???

  2. Bill MacEachern says:

    Good Grief!
    “With an eye to protecting consumers”?? How refreshing! Until this moment, the CRTC only seemed concerned with protecting the corporate interests of the companies whose former executives now make up the CRTC executive. Colour me shocked that they shafted the public to the benefit of Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Cogeco. Actually, the most shocking thing was Harper giving a damn and stepping in.

  3. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Whether Finckenstein, Harper, Clement…the Language Infers Limits
    “ensuring that heavy users pay for their excess usage”

    Who will define what is “heavy” and “excess usage”?

    I thought if I subscribed to Netflix at $7.99/month I was already paying for using them? Maybe they should be considered the heavy band width users selling their services over what Bell and others seem to think is theirs?

    If I continue to subscribe to regular email fliers from Business who benefit from my online purchases, they should be paying to send me their stuff through the emails?

    Should I be penalized for requiring Windows service pack updates on 4 computers strategically located around the Mansion?

    In a world where before you can attempt to talk on the phone to someone in Commerce or Government you have to listen to, “you might be better served using our website”, its time to start calling them on the phone because those calls cost them money!

    I said in an earlier post I was a cynic!

  4. Measurement Standards?!?
    How do the “heavy users” prove they actually used what the telecommunication companies are billing them for? If they want to do this measurement standards need to be in place.

  5. Not good enough.
    This does not address the issue whatsoever. All I’m getting from this is that they’re going to water it down slightly so Canadian can barely choke it down. The pressure should continue until we can force a total removal of this policy altogether then move onto addressing market competition concerns with concentration of media in Canada.

  6. culture of scarcity
    Notice how they do not hope in more bandwidth but in the punishment of who cross the line of the current engineered (fake) bandwidth scarcity.

  7. Uuuugh
    I knew it! I freaking knew it ! No good will come of this, UBB will still be in place, probably at a smaller rate BUT STILL THERE


    Someone needs to disband these old farts.

  8. Andrew Butash says:

    Bullshit! They just want to wait a little while so everyone forgets about it before pushing it through anyway. This doesn’t solve anything. Charging people more for using more bandwidth is fine in theory, but the problem with UBB as it stands is that Bell gets to set the rates. They can gouge their customers, then force the independent providers to gouge their own customers for slightly less. This doesn’t change a damn thing. Konrad just showed everybody whose pocket he’s in. The bastard should resign immediately.

  9. This agument is misleading and flawed.
    This response does little to address the issue, and it also makes a bunch of vague statements which are not backed up by any hard values or data. First of all, if we’re paying for use then a flat rate would suffice for everyone, so a ‘heavy user’ should not have to be ‘penalized’ because he would just pay for the extra use he had.

    Secondly, what is a ‘heavy user’? He does not define what a heavy user is…how much data would someone have to use to be considered a heavy user? And why should those users be penalized for using the internet more heavily than other mediums such as TV? If it were truly usage based we’d have flat rates and we could decide how much we wanted to use without worrying about being ‘penalized’, just like electricity.

    I would go so far as to say this is just reiteration of the scare tactics that have already been employed to convince people of some non-existant looming bandwidth crisis now backed up with vague and empty reassurances for the ‘ordinary’ user.

  10. ….
    It really sounds like they are just hoping people’s attention will be focused elsewhere 60 days from now, in time for a slightly reworded version of what they’ve already come up with.

  11. hmmm, delayed until after an election call maybe?

  12. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Managing My Internet Usage
    Draft Email

    Dear friends:

    If you don’t stop sending me those unsolicited cutesy emails heavy with video and audio content I will be forced to put you all on my spam or junk mail list.

    Dear Michael Geist:

    At the top of this thread there is a “Subscribe to this comment’s feed”.

    Where or how do I unsubscribe in 60 days or so?

    Am I over reacting?

    Shame on any of you whose homepage is Msn/Sympatico or Rogers…cents/hit? etc. etc. da*n I am reminded of a teacher who said the use of etc. suggests a general ignorance on the subject…

  13. Well, that pretty much means nothing. What is a heavy user? Plus, heavy users already do pay more, its why Bell, Roger, etc have multiple packages with different levels of bandwidth caps. The problem is that other ISPs had larger caps for less money, so to remove the competition, Bell just said everyone has to be like them.

    I’ll believe they have consumer interests in mind when they actually show that they do and they understand what the hell they are trying to regulate in the first place.

  14. I am subsidizing mega-users
    I can’t get 7mb DSL without buying a flat rate for 60GB/mo (5 bucks for another 40GB) – but can’t figure out how to use more than 25GB/mo without stone boredom. Assuming Bell makes a profit even if I use my full allocation, I am forced to pay for two to three times use as an entry requirement.

    We hear about the “technology gap” where single working moms can’t afford home internet for their kids – when the entry level for decent DSL is $50/mo to buy two or three times what they’ll use. Metered pay-go billing that would reduce by half or more the cost of internet for the overwhelming majority of users. We are subsidizing the heavy users, as Konrad says we are, he just took a stupid decision on what to do about it. Certainly it was wrong to dictate caps to independent providers – allocate to them and let them resell it however they want.

    But enough of this special pleading for peer to peer fatboys as if civilization depends on them, when civilization is better served when low and moderate volume users of all social classes can buy high speed. Job 1 – cut entry level pricing for ordinary users.

  15. Still thinking dial-up models in a broadband world. The moment ISPs achieved the ubiquitous capability to monitor for individual usage, that is the moment they should have completely thrown out the dial-up business model.

    Customers are interested in 2 things about their broadband, speed and usage. The right way to address this is by separating these in the ISP package offerings. Obviously the faster the speed, the more you can possibly “use” in a given month. There are people that don’t use a lot, but when they use it they want it fast. Likewise there is the other end of the spectrum where people don’t need all that “fast”, but they do need a constant flow that ends up using a lot in any given month. And all kinds of combinations in between.

    What the CRTC needs to do is to say yes you can do UBB, but only if you offer completely separate packages. Allow customers to select the “packages” they want, even to the point of a per/GB UBB for every GB the customer uses.
    Throw in wholesale plus X% UBB for secondary tiers. Then perhaps we will begin to see real competition.

    Right now, and under the existing UBB proposal, the advantage goes to those customers that fit nicely into the “sweet spot” for fixed packages offered by the ISP. Everybody else is getting screwed to one extent or the other, this includes both low usage customers and high usage customers.

  16. Market Price!?!
    A system that is pay-for-what-you-use is simple to understand. Most Canadians pay for electricity & water this way and haven’t had to petition the government for better rates in recent memory.

    Part of the issue, that has caused such public out-cry, are the mark-ups that the Telecomms are allowed to put on their service. Unlike Hydro & water, whose mark-ups are regulated, the Telcomms are not. Canadians are tired of paying a premium for a service where the sales price is 10x to 50x as much as the cost of production.

    The CTRC should regulate the markup that the Telecommunications Industry in Canada can charge clients. Weather they are locally, privately, or Internationally owner – this would be a big step forward towards fair pricing for Canadian consumers!

  17. Mr. Von Finckenstein (head of CRTC) sounds like he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Multiple times in today’s testimony he made statements comparing wired internet to the wireless space. Anyone who knows technology is aware of the fact that wireless bandwidth is limited by the actual capacity of free space (which is finite), whereas wired communications have no such limitation. A wired network’s capacity is only limited by the volume of physical media (ie. transmission lines) available.

    I could go on, but to be clear:
    This man should not be running our telecom regulator. What he has said today proves that he is in the pocket of each major telecom company in one way or another. Just watch the video on

    If you still can’t see my point after watching that, think of the analogy he tried to make between Usage Based Billing and how we pay for our utilities (gas, hydro, water). There is no cap on how much nat. gas I can use before I pay a higher rate. I don’t pay a set monthly fee for the gas connection + (x) number of cubic metres. I pay for what I use, period. There is a reason that no other industry has such wonky billing practices as telecom: others are properly regulated.

    I hope this has helped a few people to better understand the issue at hand.

  18. Of course…
    He’ll have to consult with Rogers, Bell and Shaw to make sure they’re not being unfairly treated.


  19. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Analogies made by stupid people (the ones who hire consultants and listen to lobbyists) scare me.

    When a bunch of Accountants who stood to make a buck on the breakup of Ontario Hydro made the analogy that it was similar to the break up of Bell’s Monopoly on telephone service and how that had resulted in cheaper long distance costs through “competition”, unfortunately the Politicians and the Public bought it…except it was summer and whereas long distance phoning is discretionary spending, Electricity is kind of essential, my gas furnace still requires it to run today and it’s cold outside!

    SUV’s are all competitively priced…they are all really expensive no matter what dealership one goes to because the consuming public desire them, need them buy them. Who buys a pick up truck any more with a bench seat for 2.5 adults and 2 wheel drive…they are all Cadillacs!

    Problem is…the 2/3rds of the population whether in the USA or Canada who live just above, on or below the poverty line can’t buy used internet time and don’t phone long distance and sleep during the day and cook at night while doing their laundry to slow down the smart meters…

    Someone…please look up competitive in the dictionary and see if it means cheaper!

    Where once Bell ruled they now compete with Rogers, Telus, Shaw…we’re still getting screwed and they are the ones who are in bed with each other! Have I redefined Multiple Orgasm?

    I’m done, it’s time for a glass of wine.

  20. UBB – Konrad should be replaced
    This man knows very little about what he’s regulating. Von Finckenstein does not realize that the 86% of users that are not hitting their cap are also not using the bandwidth that they have been oversold. If ISPs sold a $10/month 1Mbps package it would sell off the shelves for those 86% low usage customers. But Bell and Rogers only offer packages starting at $35/month, to sell more than people need, to subsidize their infrastructure. Now low usage users are all of a sudden their concern, they are the heros coming to their rescue from the big bad abusers. Those abusers are most likely the early adopters of Broadband internet who paid the early high prices to build the network they now lord over us.

    Purely profit motivated maneuvers that bodies such as the CRTC should be protecting the public against, in order to grow a technologically literate society.

  21. BootToTheHead says:

    Ye gods…
    I listed for a while to the Finck and had to close the window after the first questions about CRTC and government.

    Sure, Bell sent in a request for things to be delayed 60 days — hundreds of thousands of Canadians were showing their ire over UBB — I would not call that a Good Thing or ‘proactive’. That’s trying to save their own butts by giving time to smooth things over.

    Yet Finck used that as a defense while saying that he had almost no communication with the government over this issue before today and pretty much stated there was very little need to communicate with Mr. Clement? What? I suppose the Industry Minister isn’t important enough.

    Also, his ‘we don’t set the caps’ defense is kind of poor since almost any decision they make is going to be influence caps so in a way the CRTC does control the caps in some way.

    And, yes, there are going to be ‘heavy users’ — there’s always someone at the top just like there will be ‘light users’ — but how heavy is heavy? He doesn’t say much other than ‘they hog the network’ and that 86% aren’t hitting the cap. You don’t set the cap, remember? Why should you care? And that remaining 14%? Just how much are they using and what portion of the network are they killing?

    People have been grumbling about the teleco’s high prices for a while and I feel this issue has only sparked the powder for a growing number of annoyed Canadians. Without some hard data from an independent audit of the teleco’s infrastructure about capability and costs I very much think many Canadians are going to be jumping for joy over Finck’s comments.

  22. BootToTheHead says:

    I meant to say ‘are not going to be jumping for joy’. Previous version is Bell’s fantasy world.

    They don’t seem to understand that this crap isn’t going to fly. There will be no meeting half way. They will full reverse what they have done here or we will not stop. We will pressure them and increase efforts until the decision is fully reversed. There WILL BE NO COMPROMISE!

  24. @oldguy: “Customers are interested in 2 things about their broadband, speed and usage.”

    And latency. Try to use a remote desktop session via VPN with ping times of 3000ms. Or play Call of Duty networked multiplayer. And yes, the “speed” is there, you can still get 3-4 Mbps through-output, except that everything is randomly delayed a couple of seconds. Anything interactive is completely &**# up. And there’s no reason to do this – it screws exactly the people that *don’t* consume much bandwidth. Those that are downloading warez and pr0n couldn’t care less if the whole 4 GB file took 3 extra seconds to arrive.

    Oh wait. It affects voip – how about variable up to 3 seconds lag between packets? That would definitely take care of those pesky haxors trying to circumvent our great long distance tariffs……


  25. Bell's Pocket says:

    “You only have to worry about the 25GB cap if you’re a heavy video user or are playing three-dimensional games.”

  26. @Finck: “You only have to worry about the 25GB cap if you’re a heavy video user or are playing three-dimensional games”.


    1. 25 GB = 5 HD (they’re actually 720p not 1080) movies from Playstation Networks. How “heavy” is 5 movies?
    2. The month I bought a new computer I did 30GB just by downloading the latest Windows/office patches, Firefox, antivirus and various small utilities.
    3. As a long time player of Call of Duty on PS3, I can attest that it does *not* eat much bandwidth. It is sensitive to latency not throughoutput. It transmits keypresses and coordinates of objects, not images of said objects.


  27. Who’s zooming who?
    UBB is just a way for the big boys to deflect attention away from the fact that if the “average” user only uses 2Gbs – 3Gbs per month then they are grossly over charging those users. Instead get those “average” users upset at the bandwidth hogs instead of the ISP. I’m sure they are looking out for the consumers best interest and not just the bottom line. I am with Teksavvy and will be until they pry that flashing modem from my cold dead hands. Another thing…..I use about 150 Gbs a month. If I used 101 Gbs a month then it would take 99 “average” users using 2Gbs a month to bring the average for our group of 100 up to 3 Gbs for the month. Give me a break….99 to 1. Where do those “averages” come from. The CRTC is buying everything that Bhell and Rodgers is selling them – no questions asked…because they are so out of touch – they don’t know what questions to ask. All I can say is if you are a Bhell or Rodgers customer call them and bail now – let them know you have an alternative in Teksavvy (or other independant ISPs). Let them know you have options and you are going to use them.

  28. Ramubullin' Rosey says:

    I’m a Heavy User…Burp 🙂
    On my third glass of wine…

    Here’s my Isp’s advice as to what a Gig is!

    1GB of usage will allow you to do the following things (approximate measurements):

    * View 26,000 web pages or
    * Send 105,000 e-mails or
    * Attach over 2,000 Microsoft Word documents (of about 10 pages each) or
    * Receive up to 500 digital photos or
    * Download more than 200 songs or
    * Stream 18 hours of music from the web or
    * Download 1.5 movies (or 2/3 of a movie in high definition) or
    * Play games online for 240 hours (or 10 days)

    But they too ignore the extraneous shit like email, Windows updates, Virus Program updates, ITunes and Quick time updates, Spam, it all adds up…that’s why they have limits…for you to go over 🙂

  29. I’m waiting for Teksavvy to be able to offer cable internet service in my area. House is already setup for cable, so it makes it easier.

  30. CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein is clueless! Use of internet bandwidth is no different then telephone or tv usage. You don’t get charged for how many hours you view tv a day, or talk on the phone (other then long distance perhaps) do you? What is the difference? Internet comes through the same cable, it’s not a finite resource! And Skype doesn’t use high bandwidth!! What an idiot! Do you think our serviceman/woman just want to text their loved ones? NO! They want to talk to them, see them, CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein needs to be replaced with someone who actually understand technology!

  31. Unbelievable that we have such uninformed dinosaurs heading the CRTC.

    “gigahertz” instead of “gigabyte”
    “15 MB cap” instead of “15 GB cap”
    “data is a utility like oil” except data is not a finite resource, it is in fact limitless
    “point-to-point” instead of “peer-to-peer”

    Please tweet the following:

    @TonyClement_MP tell von Finckenstein data is not a finite resource like oil. Data does not vanish when used. He is not fit to head CRTC

  32. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Whale Oil Beef Hooked
    Keep saying it faster and faster out loud



  33. Once again the CRTC is ripping off Canadians…
    Anybody have Netflix Canada? Viewing High Def streaming movies takes up double the bandwidth. It’s bad enough Canada pays rip-off prices for high speed interent. And yes both BELL & ROGERS have created a massive monopoly and should be charged for price-fixing to artifially inflate the cost of high speed. Now I wonder how much Bell & Rogers are paying off the CRTC to make stupid desicions in regards to this rediculous usage billing…

  34. Very Approximate Measurements
    1GB of usage will allow you to do the following things (approximate measurements):

    * Receive up to 500 digital photos

    Are you kidding me? In what year? My new point and shot cheap camera use an average of 2GB per photo, to not speak if I want to sent a raw photo got with my digital SLR Camera

    * Attach over 2,000 Microsoft Word documents (of about 10 pages each)

    I know they only mean text documents but last word document I sent at work was 6.5GB (it was a 35 page guide
    of an application)

  35. What king of progress?
    It is insane to pay $5 for 1GB. If I by a DVD (4GB) and send it by mail it cost less. What kind of progress is this one?

  36. News: Just in
    It appears Bell Canada is now blocking Emails to their customers if they contain the url to Open Media’s

    Confirmed so far by a couple of people.


  37. I pay 61.54 a month (taxes in) for 80gig. It was the highest available useage for an individual before going to a business price/class. I would also be charged $5.00 per gig of overage. I read the other day that average price of internet was about $36. I started laughing then got angry after reading that Bs. I purposely chose to pay more for useage but when i try downloading what i want to i’m throttled down to below 20kbs from an advertised 6mbs download speed and this is 24/7 and not just between certain hours of supposedly high volume operation. And someone find out if our bandwidth useage measurments is taken before throttling or afterwards…. I am not a happy consumer as it is and they want to charge more…. ???

  38. Ubb not a bad concept, just crappy implementation
    The concept of UBB is fine. The idea of paying for what you use does make sense. However, being given crippling maximum caps in order to to help promote other media services is ridiculous. The problem with UBB wasn’t the concept, it was that the big telco’s where using it as a tool to try and stop the internet takeover of their other business. It’s almost akin to the music industry lawsuits. Trying to stifle innovation through bullying tactics.

    When i used to be on rogers, I had no uploads or download problems. When they came out with their home phone service, they then realized they had bandwidth issues and started throttling. I expect that when a new company launches a new division, they will not do it on the backs of their existing customers.

    Another good example of information manipulation, remember how the bell myfibe network only got announced after the UBB decision? After they tried to pretend like they have an overloaded infrastructure and needed it? Funny, last I checked, that was an usual amount of dark fiber for a company with infrastructure issues.

  39. This is disappointing!
    In the past week, I used the internet only for blog, newspaper, facebook, and email, no online games, no youtube, no music streaming. And Shaw still measured around 2GB per day, WTF! Either Shaw have their meter totally wrong, or we are all “abusing” the internet by reading plain text. This is BS! The ISP is the one metering our usage, there’s nothing we can do if they over-measured us. They can easily get away by claiming that our computer got hacked, or someone is stealing our wifi, etc.

  40. Conrad Von Finckenstein’s comments
    Let me start by saying that the CRTC chair is a VERY respected jurist and no dummy. That being said, I was struck by how lopsided his comments were:

    “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users,”

    Conrad, as you noted the independent ISPs pay “cost plus 15%” to use the last mile provided by Bell. Fixed costs are covered. If you want to turn this into a variable costing system then go for it, but that means costing of about say $0.50 per Gb and users like myself (28Gb per month) will pay something like $14.00 and users taking down 200Gb will pay $100.
    That isn’t what is happening; the premise that higher bandwidth users are being subsidized isn’t being fixed by this.

    I’d also point out Conrad, that these costs are only in regards to the line to the home, and the hand-off at the colo. So really … except for some technology at the colo (higher speed routers, etc) it is only a cost of $0.01 per Gibyte in variable costs. The line is there regardless. So if you aren’t wedded to true variable costing, this is a fair estimate of fixed costs plus the variable.

    BUT CONRAD …. YOU TOOK THE WORST OF TWO WORLDS?! Speaking as an accountant, the CRTC needs an accountant on the Commission!

  41. mr
    I have had the same ISP for 10 years living 4km from Bells CO (southwestern Ontario). All this time my speed has remained at a 1.5 meg connection. If they spent 7 billion on infastructere , i’d like to see some proof!

  42. Sorry Joel, I disagree. The concept of UBB is inherently flawed. There is no cost to transporting data, well, the cost is negligible (1-3 pennies per GB). Data is not a finite resource. It is limitless. We don’t need to generate data as with electricity. It isn’t like water or natural gas, where there is a physical, finite capacity. Network capacity is influenced primarily by bandwidth (the rate of download) and NOT the total amount of data transfered.

    If you download 300 GB at one month, but you downloaded it at 10 kb/s and mostly overnight, you are having virtually no impact on network congestion. However, if you downloaded 20 GB in one month, but you mainly watch high-definition YouTube at 6 PM, you are much more likely to contribute to network congestion.

  43. One Solution
    Bell and other large distributors should be banned from providing retailing services to residential customers.

  44. When not downloading any videos or anything I use approx 200 MB of download a day for all the websites I visit from RSS or news, plus any emails, IMs, chat, facebook etc.

  45. Arthur Goldsmith says:

    Fire him.
    Can we get rid of him somehow? I heard him today at the hearing and was terribly disappointed. He’s effectively playing a guessing game with incredibly important rulings on internet regulation. He’s a smart guy, don’t get me wrong, but you can ‘judiciate’ on extremely technical matters such as this, you need to actually have some knowledge on how this works, he clearly doesn’t.

  46. “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities…”

    Good. Then let’s regulate it “no different than other public utilities”. Directly by the government.

    Since we don’t have a “Canadian Electricity, Gas and Water Commission” why do we have a CRTC? It’s own head says Internet is no different.

    Disband CRTC.


  47. Bell is so smart…
    They “graciously” called for 60 day delay… so that they can do more lobbying to the government, let the consumers forget about this and to prevent their CTV deal to be stopped (which is the part of their overall strategy – stop Netflix, Skype, VoIP, IPTV until they are ready, then allow unlimited bandwidth to their own content)…

    Canadians should not stop here – keep calling, writing and demanding that this entire decision be tossed out!

    I love how Mr Von F says that their mandate is to protect competition – great way to doing so – make decision against 6% of independent ISP’s and for those who control 94% – nice going!

  48. I Have rogers but will be getting rid or them.
    I have HD, Internet and VOIP – For two reasons:
    1) VOIP fails a LOT which causes my work calls to be delayed or multiple attempts (+10) to connect to on busy working hours.
    2) HT – they values my watching some TV shows and networks and my opinion all networks we normally watched were moved to a new price/schedule that we had to pay another 9.99 a month for.
    3) With NetFlix here now, I have no use for Rogers and will be leaving them since I currently for pay 60g a month for access at say 70 dollars but if I get rid of Rogers and go to a provider that provide read value for access, then it is $0.50 PER GB and that I can get rid of the HD and PVR subscription I pay now that is over $250 per month.

    Why I brought this up on our weekly call with others in my company they were like WHAT…I thought Canada had the best place to work….with 3 and 4x the cost of anywhere in the world this will hurt Jobs

  49. @Napalm “And latency.”

    I’ll grant you that. But “speed” and latency are much closer linked than usage. I consciously lumped latency under the “speed” category when describing general customer interests.

    If we get beyond the basic “speed” and “usage” descriptions, we should also get into definitions and descriptions of transmission mediums. There are certain physical limitations in different mediums that define the real “speed”. I haven’t checked in a while, but cable modems would always transmit/receive at a raw rate equal to about 70Mb per channel. Customer “limits” are artificially applied on the amount of packets/slots each client could have apportioned out of that 70Mb/channel. These artificial limits could be applied at the modem, or the head end, or the head routers. But the cable modem *still* transmits at “70Mb/sec/channel”.
    From a simplistic viewpoint, latency is simply a measure of propagation delay. That delay is based on the length of the transmission medium(s), the physical capabilities of each medium, and the amount of routers (buffer and retransmit) between you and the other endpoint. This is why satellite has always had lousy latency, transmission up and down introduces a “long path” which makes it impossible to achieve low latency. The laws of physics get in the way.

    But all of this gets into a level of detail well beyond this discussion. I’d be happy to get into a long discussion of latency vs speed vs bandwidth another time. None of these has anything to do with the current discussion of “usage”, at least not directly. So I lumped them under the general category of “speed”.

  50. CRTC + Innovation = Questionable
    I wouldn’t mind the cap and I probably can live within the cap, but my ISP can’t even deliver the bandwidth I pay generously for and I have a higher-tier plan! So I get jerky video and downloads can take a long time. The next tier is a huge jump in price and I can’t afford.

    CRTC should be disbanded as they’re out of touch. Allowing ISPs to own content and delivery then allowing a cap is a mistake and will lead to high prices, lower quality service and further reduced choice for the consumer.

    I can’t believe Federal bureaucrats didn’t think this one thru and it’s a huge embarrassment for the current government.

  51. RIchard Westgate says:

    Analogies Don’t Work
    The idea that the internet can be compared to water, gas, electric utilities or to filling your gas tank, they don’t compare in any way. There is a tiny cost per GB and I have no problem paying the actual cost with a reasonable percentage markup. However, those who use those analogies seem to forget that when I fill my gas tank, I buy the GAS. I pay some microscopic amount for the gas station to provide the pumping system. I don’t pay extra charges for the pump if I’m filling a giant trailer. The IPS companies are pumping internet CONTENT to us through their pipes. I’ve already paid Netflix or iTunes for their content.

  52. Conservative Socialist says:

    off topic – ACTA
    (Secret) US cables reveal: ACTA was far too secret

    US government cables published by WikiLeaks show us that it wasn’t just “the usual blogger-circles” (as the US Embassy in Sweden called them) complaining about the secrecy of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

    French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net has compiled a list of relevant WikiLeaks cables regarding ACTA. In one, a top intellectual property official in Italy told the US that “the level of confidentiality in these ACTA negotiations has been set at a higher level than is customary for non-security agreements.

    By Nate Anderson, ars technica —

  53. Finckenstein should resign immediately and be replaced with someone who doesn’t sleep with the greedy corporate scarecrows. The decision is delayed. Yeah, right: just like Mubarak they are expecting that the issue will be forgotten and go away so that they still can do whatever they want. Let’s turn this matter into a political problem for them and remember it when election time comes.

  54. The Heads of CRTC show they don’t understand what a Gigabyte is. We’re so screwed.
    The Heads of CRTC show they don’t understand what a Gigabyte is. We’re so screwed.

    The Chairman of the CRTC, Konrad Von Finckenstein, first said at this Parliamentary Committee that the average Canadian internet user uses 15 Gigabytes per month, then he said 15 Gigabits per month, then he said 15 Megabytes per month, then when someone beside him told him he was wrong, he said once again 15 Gigabytes per month.

    And his sidekick there, Vice Chairman, Technology of the CRTC, Len Katz was just as funny. Katz told the Parliamentary panel of MPs there that the average Canadian residential internet user pays “per Gigahertz”. They don’t. They pay “per Gigabyte” of data downloaded/uploaded. Gigahertz is a measure of frequency or speed (like a 3 GHz Intel i7 Core cpu in a computer), not a quantity of data.

    And these are the guys who just decided on a new policy for Usage-based Billing? That everyone who uses more than 25 Gigabytes of data per month should pay $1.95 more per extra Gigabyte per month over what they’re already paying?

    These two ignorant gentlemen are the top guys running the CRTC which controls/regulates the entire fields of technology in television, cellular phones, radio and the internet for all Canadians in all of Canada. How did these guys get their jobs? They wouldn’t have even been hired to work as a Technical Support person at any ISP because they would have failed the qualifying technical entrance test, but they make crucial decisions affecting the lives of 33 million Canadians?

    And Von Finckenstein says this whole Usage-based Billing process started because Bell Canada asked the CRTC to do it, and he suspended his decision now for 60 days because Bell Canada asked him to. Sounds like Bell Canada is running the CRTC according to what Von Finckenstein told us himself. Is that what Canadians want, Mr. Harper? Mr. Prentice? Mr. Ignatieff? M. Duceppe?

  55. RCMP investigation for corruption
    I am asking that a RCMP investigation be launched into the decision makers at the CRTC! I’m not angry—I’m rational because the decisions of the CRTC in favour of BCE in the past few years have been so outlandishly illogical that the only conclusion I can reasonably conceive for these rulings is that some person(s) are being bribed by BCE! A forensic audit of the key members of the CRTC would be able to find any red flags in the personal lives of these bureaucrats. CRTC members better not have money in the bank that they can’t account for or have bought items (property, cars, and jewellery) with money which, would be impossible to afford on their income. Have any of them gone on any expensive trips where they couldn’t explain how they were able to finance them? Is there any unethical investing in BCE stock being done by any of the CRTC members? Has BCE offered any of them stock at prices below the current market trading price in turn for their votes to favour BCE (first–throttling and now metering)?

    We Canadians did extremely well with our voices, lettering writing & E-mailing our MPs now let us put our energies toward having the Federal government order the RCMP to launch an investigation of possible corruption and collusion of the CRTC with regards to BCE!

    Are you on board?

  56. @Vincent

    I suspect this might have something to do with “unsolicited traffic”. This is traffic targeted to your external IP address that has been discarded by your router/firewall rather than routed through it. This is often made worse by a “security implementation” called “stealth mode”.

    To understand this, you need to get into an understanding of network communication. Communication is initiated at one system and received at the other system. If the receiving system doesn’t want (or can’t handle) the communication, it is supposed to reply with a “reject” message that tells the initiator not to bother trying anymore as well as throwing away the incoming packet.
    Stealth mode is an attempt to “hide” the fact that the target even exists by dropping the incoming packet without replying with a “reject”. From the initiator’s perspective, it’s like the packet never got there. So it tries again, and again, and again, until it reaches some built in limit that tells it to stop trying.

    Besides the port scanners and nefarious attempts to “hack” into your router, there is a lot of legit traffic that depends on that reject message. It will keep trying and trying.

    In some extreme cases, there could be a significant percentage of legitimate traffic targeted to your IP address that is unsolicited. From a network usage perspective, the practice of “stealth ports” just makes the problem worse, possibly a lot worse. In one commercial installation I analyzed recently, about 20% of their inbound traffic was unsolicited. Without stealth mode, it dropped to about 1%.
    And from a security perspective, “stealth mode” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

    All that traffic has to pass through the modem. It has no idea if your router intends to drop that packet or accept it. So it is counted as “traffic”, which obviously may not come close to matching what you think you are using.

  57. UBB and Tory Election Pandering
    What a spectacle, the Conservatives pandering to the something-for-nothing crowd. UBB is perfectly correct according to the set of liberal values our society is founded upon. Even Red Tories understand that when some people pay the same but get less than other people, those other people are being subsidised.

    Forget the creative specious arguments. UBB is correct in principle. All that’s left to discuss is rates, unless you’re a Conservative minority government looking for the bump that will make it a majority government. They will sell out the very principles they claim to champion in order to achieve their majority.

    I’m no fan of the big companies and especially not of mergers of bandwidth providers and content providers, but likewise I’m no fan of self-serving specious reasoning.

    “data isn’t a finite resource like oil” doesn’t mean anything. Bandwidth is the finite resource in question here, not just data. It costs money to install, maintain, and expand bandwidth.

    “it costs a negligible amount per gigabyte for the big companies” is a specious argument because “negligible” isn’t “nothing” and there certainly is a real cost that is most fairly measured by data over time.

    “analogies don’t work because I pay for the gas not the delivery” is plainly false since delivery is actually the main part of the before-tax cost. It begins when oil is pumped out of the ground and transported to refineries and ends when it comes out of the pump into your automobile. That’s the effort of a lot of people you are paying for. So far, God has not sent us a bill for the oil itself.

    “I already paid Netflix for the content” is just poor reasoning. Think of it this way: if you rented the DVD and had it mailed to you then the cost of postage is equivalent to usage based billing. When you finished with the DVD and ordered another, you would pay postage again.

    What we really need to focus on is the excessive price of the stamps and the anti-competitive practices of the big providers. The Tories might not be so happy to accomodate the demands of the people on those subjects, however.

  58. I cannot believe this
    I just find out Shaw have implement UBB in secret until I watch the news. Also CRTC have not implement UBB yet, Shaw make their one step ahead of the game already

  59. Yadwinder Sidhu says:

    Konrad sounds like a spokesperson for Bell.

    There is no economical reason for UBB to exist. Canada is the only country in the world that does not offer Unlimited packages to its citizens. Australia was in the same boat, and now they are implementing a broadband network and will soon offer unlimited there as well.

    If it weren’t for people like Michael Geist, and the Karl Bode, and a handful of others, the Canadian public would be forced to believe the nonsense that Bell & the CRTC are spreading about network congestion, “heavy” users vs “light” users, etc.

    In the end, this is all about control. Our mega-giant telcos and cable co’s are dominating all the media we have. Internet, telephone, television, cell phones, etc.

    That said, they are mad as hell that we are using more web-based entertainment services like Netflix, and they are losing control.

    UBB is being used as an excuse to limit our access to their web-based competitors. It’s clearly anti-competitive, and must be stopped.

    Konrad should be fired, and the Conservatives should investigate the supposed “network congestion” and they will quickly come to the conclusion that it’s a stunt from Bell et al, to regain market share and control Canadians media consumption.

    Thank you Mr. Geist, as always.

  60. Compared to Utilities
    Something is misleading here
    This is BC (Other provinces will differ)
    1. BC Hydro has two teirs, everything up to X KwH, and everything over that (maybe there’s another tier that I’ve never hit) that makes all electricity over that X cost slightly more. Slightly. Electricity is delivered as a fixed capacity line (300 Amps or whatever) but we don’t pay for that connection’s bandwidth.
    2. I don’t have gas here, but it’s the same story, the pipe is fixed, and you pay by the cubic… meter I tbink.
    3. Water, again fixed pipe bandwidth, and depending where you live, you’re billed by the Kiloliter.

    Now here’s the thing to consider. The 3 of the above do not charge you for the physical bandwidth pipe size, only the consumed resource.

    Telus, and Shaw over here bill you for the size of the “pipe”, and also for the transit. The wholesale cost of transit today is something closer to 1 cent per GB. How do they justify 1(shaw)-2(telus)-5(Rogers)$/GB ?

    But this has nothing to do with Bell trying to impose their customer’s bandwidth rates on the wholesale ISP’s customers. Teksavvy probably has free peering and can offer “Unlimited Usage” to their customers. Bell just wants to crush them as a competitor by claiming that Teksavvy’s customers take up most of the bandwidth. If this was really the case, it’s Bell’s fault for not building out sufficient capacity to begin with. Think about it. If one DSLAM has capacity for 1000 users, and they can all be provisioned for 15Mbits, then logically there must be 15Gbits of capacity to that node. Teksavvy clearly can not have something provisioned that doesn’t exist, and it’s unlikely that a DSLAM will be 100% used. So this means that either Bell is lying and third party ISP’s are not causing congestion, or it means that Bell has been overselling capacity they never had to begin with, to their own customers before these third party ISP’s were ever taken into account.

    It would be foolish to operate a third party ISP and have to pay twice for the bandwidth, so this CRTC decision would only force them out of business.

  61. Canadians have spoken: The CRTC and oligopolies do not care about us or fairness, but we do.
    Is it time to consider anti-trust action like that undertaken by the US Government against the “monopoly” of Standard Oil that controlled about 90% of oil production and 85% of oil sales in the USA in 1904? The government of Canada should promote a free, capitalist market with real competitors among the Telecoms for the Internet. It is an essential service that must be regulated to ensure that the oligopolistic Telecoms are not exploiting their position to make exorbitant profits on the backs of ordinary Canadians.

    Von Finckenstein has demonstrated that it is obviously beyond time to disband the CRTC that, for some strange, unfathomable reason, hires former executives of Telecom companies and caters to the worst instincts (ie. unrestrained greed) of the executives and major shareholders running the telecoms.

    Maybe, we should pay for what we use each month, like electricity or gasoline or natural gas even though internet usage is not a non-renewable resource. But, we should not have to pay for an arbitrary (limited) amount that they make us choose from maybe 3 choices, if we don’t use up that full amount. Why don’t the Big Telecoms–since they care so much about the “ordinary internet users”—issue cheques for refunds to all their subscribers who used less than their “monthly caps” for say, the last 10 years? And maybe we should pay more for each GB we use over our cap, but that incremental increase in price should bear some relation to the incremental increase in cost the Telecom pays to transmit that extra GB, not 60 times more than their incremental cost.

    If Von Finckenstein thinks he will be able to pull a fast one and ram a new but still unfair usage-based billing system down our throats in 60 days, he’s even more out-of-touch and delusional than he appeared during this Committee hearing.

  62. The more I find out about Konrad von Finckenstein’s comments, the more it sounds like he is the victim of a high level techno-babble con game. It doesn’t sound like he is (dis)honestly trying to pull a fast one, but simply that he is incompetent to be overseeing this kind of committee. His assistant is marginally better, but still grossly unqualified.

    There has been a lot of discussion and analysis, from many different sources, on the actual “cost” per GB of data transfered. Although it is obviously not a simple subject, all the answers tend to cluster around the .5 to 3 cent per GB mark. That is one of the very first things the CRTC should have researched, and factored into their decision. It is pretty clear they did not.

    Next, the CRTC should have asked Bell and the incumbents why UBB should not be applied across the board to all customers. Base price, perhaps with differences for various “speed offerings”, plus UBB. Would the lowest usage customers see a reduction in cost?

    Lastly, based on the numbers, the CRTC should have set a maximum rate for customer UBB billing, or alternatively should have set the maximum wholesale UBB for second tier companies. Note: this 2nd tier wholesale UBB is purely for “last mile” costs, not backbone carrier costs. Second tier companies generally carry their own backbone connectivity. This second tier wholesale cost should be lower than the wholesale UBB cost for direct customers.

    Technology has been advancing, the overall costs for transferring a GB of data have been steadily going down over the last 10 years. You would hope that someone qualified at the CRTC would have noticed this pattern and raised a red flag. This implies that the whole of the CRTC is technically incompetent, which I rather doubt. The alternative is that internal competent advice was ignored or overruled.

    This particular issue is just another example of an ongoing trend of poor decisions coming out of the CRTC.

  63. Define “heavy usage”…
    I’d like to know what constitutes as “heavy usage”. CRTC’s numbers for 2009 said that we used on average around 15 GB. So, does that mean that anything above that classifies us as “excessive users”? In this day and age, 100 GB should be a norm. Comcast in the US has a monthly bandwidth of 250 GB. Why do we have to lag far behind our neighbors?

    So, CRTC should really define those terms before imposing extra costs onto us. What do you say?

    Twitter: @DennyMathews

  64. Sounds corrupt to me……………..
    Sounds of lobbying the CRTC by the giants (media) again in this country. More restrictions to web based services and information. I truly believe there is corruption at the CRTC that should be investigated, on the other hand they may just be a group of useless stupid overpaid incompetents.

  65. John Papers says:

    Thanks for this post. I couldn’t make it and this post has been useful.
    Placement Papers

  66. Arthur Goldsmith says:

    @Johnny S. I agree. After having heard those two nitwits on stand, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if there’s something criminal going on.

  67. I agree with everyone.. this is to just knock out companies like Netflix and Hulu so Bell/Rogers can protect their other content offerings. They want NO competition because there services are overpriced and if Netflix or Hulu get established there go their big profits.

    With Netflix offering unlimited movies for $8.00, this would cut into Bell/Rogers profits big time when they charge 1.99 and upwards per movie.. Basically Bell/Rogers wants to force us to continue to buy TV/movies off them.

    What bother me about Mr Konrad von Finckenstein is that before he opens his mouth he should get some facts first and not the shit Bell feeds him. He sounds like a used car salesman trying to sell cars back in the ’50s .. This is 2011 where people are more informed than ever and the crap you tell us just doesn’t sit well

    Konrad von Finckenstein should either be investigate for accepting bribes from Bell or he should resign for being incompetent.