interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Rogers’

Bye Bye UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 16, 2011

 

No Usage Based Billing

Yesterday the CRTC did an about face and reversed the terrible decision to allow Bell Canada to charge Usage Based Billing to the Independent ISP’s customers, effectively pronouncing UBB dead.

Yay.

On the specific decision, the CRTC rejected the UBB model it approved less than a year ago, acknowledging that it was too inflexible and could block independent ISPs from differentiating their services. The issue then boiled down to Bell’s preferred model based on volume and the independent ISPs’ approach who preferred capacity based models. The Commission ruled that capacity-based models are a better approach since they are more consistent with how network providers plan their networks and less susceptible to billing disputes.

With Bell’s preferred approach out of the way, the Commission was left to choose between two capacity models – the independent providers’ “95th percentile” solution and MTS Allstream’s capacity model. The Commission chose a variant on the MTS Allstream model that involves both a monthly access fee and a monthly capacity charge that can increase in increments of 100 Mbps. That model is even more flexible than what MTS proposed, suggesting that the Commission was primarily focused on building in as much flexibility for independent providers as possible. In addition to this model (which the Commission calls an approved capacity model), the large ISPs can continue to use flat rate models which provide for unlimited usage.

Michael Geist, The CRTC’s UBB Decision: Bell Loses But Do Consumers Win?

Although I agree that further changes should be made, I’m not so sure I go along with all of Professor Geist’s suggestions. The CRTC  clearly does not function the way that it should.

The CRTC’s mandate is supposedly to protect consumers.  Looking at the history of UBB it is clear that the CRTC does not.  In practice, consumers don’t even make it onto the their radar at all; the only CRTC concern is the ISPs.

The CRTC continues to allow Bell Canada to deploy:

  • Deep Packet Inspection. This essentially allows Bell Canada total access to all unencrypted Internet traffic. Which means the technology gives Bell the means to read our email, and the CRTC allows this. With zero oversight. The CRTC trusts Bell with their privacy, but I don’t. And although I’m not even a Bell customer, my email is not safe from Bell, because my ISP goes through Bell. This is no more reasonable than giving blanket permission to Canada Post to open postal mail.
  • Gouging Customers. I was aghast that the CRTC didn’t understand that most Canadians pay a lot for mediocre Internet access, and worse, didn’t seem to believe the issue was relevant to their deliberations. Have to move to a different geographical location in order to get an another choice of ISP is not “choice.”
  • Throttling the Internet. This one still boggles my mind today just as much as when I first heard about it. When customers pay for a level of service, and the service provider deliberately impedes that service, providing inferior service than has been contracted for is wrong. And again, Bell is not only does this to their own customers, but to the customers of the Independent ISPs as well. Worse still, Bell decide singles out specific Internet traffic to discriminate against it. The CRTC gave Bell permission to do this, the implication being that is that all encrypted traffic is “Downloaders” It seems to me, even if someone is using the Internet for nefarious means, to illicitly download copyrighted content, say, it should not give an ISP the right to provide less bandwidth than the customer paid for. This argument is flawed; one crime doesn’t justify another.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I grew up in a world where deliberately short changing consumers was considered to be fraud, and when even the government law enforcement officials were required to get a warrant before they read my mail.

These are some of the reasons why I don’t think the CRTC is doing its job of protecting consumers. This could be fixed by making sure that the CRTC reflected its real constituency better. [hint: the CRTC should not be limited to past or present Telecom employees, but should also include consumers.] There shouldn’t have to be a major outcry before the CRTC hears consumer; if the CRTC is going to continue to exist, it needs to be responsive to the public.

If the CRTC isn’t reformed, it should be dissolved and replaced with something that does look out for citizens.

Both Bell and Rogers have far too much control over too many facets of the industries they inhabit. This sure looks like what our American friends might define as “anti-trust.” Where was the CRTC … how did things get this messed up if the CRTC was doing its job?

Rogers is apparently an even worse throttler than Bell, and in fact, “Rogers: The World’s Worst Throttler (Officially)”.

These corporations are not going to behave any better unless compelled to do so. Maybe its time they were broken up; the Internet is an essential service, perhaps it should be administered like any other utility, for the public good rather than the corporate greed.

[Thanks to both Robert & Joan!]

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Broadband Power for the People?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 18, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

The Internet Billing Upheaval in Canada

By Arthur Czuma

CRTC logo
The year 2011 appears destined for revolutions. As Egyptians, Libyans, and others demonstrate across the Middle East and North Africa, Canadians are unleashing a quieter storm of their own. Hundreds of thousands have signed an online petition that calls for rescinding a new Internet billing policy that would eliminate price caps and bring usage-based charges. Striking the policy would help protect the interests of Canadian consumers – and the government seems to be listening. A senior government official indicated that if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not reverse its controversial ruling, then the Cabinet would do so.

New Per-Gigabyte Charges

The policy, which would take effect on March 31, centers on the amount of data that consumers can view or download and for what expense. Not surprisingly, it’s the bigger ISPs that support the new fees supported by the policy. Many have already been charging users in accordance with how much data they access – and now, the new law would have smaller ISPs do the same. That’s because smaller ISPs lease bandwidth from larger telecommunications firms such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and Shaw Communications. Despite their small size, the lesser-known ISPs (Internet service providers) have typically been providing both greater bandwidth and lower fees than have the bigger ISPs such as Bell and TELUS.

Small ISPs Scoff at “Wholesale” Rate

Netflix logo
The larger telecom firms are mandated by government to lease their bandwidth to smaller ISPs and resellers. However, until now, they were prohibited from passing per-gigabyte fees on to these customers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has attempted to placate small providers by granting them a 15% discount on cable and telecom companies’ retail rates – but the small ISPs are less than impressed with this wholesale rate. In fact, many regard it as just another retail price. From the perspective of small business, the discount is hardly compensation for the new power imbalance: it merely slows the journey toward an Internet oligopoly or monopoly.

The large companies, in turn, cite their right to manage their networks – and they claim that flat-rate Internet pricing is no longer viable. Bell Canada raised the issue in 2009 as iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and other online video and video game providers contributed to rapid growth in online traffic. But that’s a hard argument to swallow: according to the CRTC’s own data, just as some large providers have been charging for “excessive” traffic for years, smaller ISPs have offered plans with literally hundreds of times the bandwidth, if not unlimited service, at a lower cost.

Tony Clement

Minister of Industry, Tony Clement

Canadians Take Action

The question of exactly what is the just balance between fostering competition and granting corporate rights will always be up for debate. For now, however, it seems that Canadians have drawn a line in the sand. In addition to more than 465,000 having signed a “Mind the Cap” petition online, tens of thousands have written to the Minister of Industry to protest the imposition of usage-billed Internet billing. And as back-up, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, a group of more than 20 ISPs, is considering its legal options if the Conservative government does not revoke the CRTC ruling. A senior official acknowledged that the billing is “a bread-and-butter issue” and would be treated as such.

Canadian Flag

The Numbers

Many Canadians currently have Internet plans that charge for using an excess of 25 gigabytes per month. That’s equivalent to watching about five Netflix movies or downloading about six video games. It’s certainly not enough for many people’s entertainment needs, nor is it sufficient to help get a small business established or draw innovative services. For instance, a data cap would stymie the expansion of Netflix, the online video company that recently started offering unlimited movie rentals for about C$8 per month.

A Contagious Revolution?

By striking down the decision, the government will enable the small ISPs to remain competitive and thereby help bring a variety of affordable Internet options to Canadians. At the same time, eliminating caps will help attract innovative digital entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy. It’s inspirational – and if US Americans would pay attention, perhaps the Canadian revolution could spread stateside. Regardless of their political stripes, fair Internet pricing is something that just about every consumer can stand for.



Distributel logo
About the author

Arthur Czuma is a writer and consultant for several Ontario-based businesses including Distributel, a local ISP.



It’s not over yet.

Usage Based Billing has NOT been cancelled, only postponed.

The CRTC is not doing their job, but rather doing a disservice to Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 15027 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UBB is Bad

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 6, 2011

“Usage-Based Billing: A last-ditch effort to kill the competition.

By forcing all the small ISPs to cap usage and operate just like Bell, the CRTC has effectively buried any strategic advantage that small ISPs can use in competition against Bell and other major telecoms.”

Andy MacIlwain: CRTC & Usage-Based Billing (UBB): Canada Needs Telecom Competition!

Financial Post: Seeing red over metered Internet gets some of it right, but thinks there can actually be justification for UBB.

“if users do find that their usage is being metered, they are going to change their habits.”

Ottawa Citizen: The CRTC and friends

“There is a huge conflict of interest here being seemingly ignored by the CRTC. Bell-Rogers are limiting their competitors’ ability to compete with their cable divisions, by using their Internet divisions to discourage increased Internet usage. Why is this not discussed more often? Maybe one company should no longer be allowed to own both?”

– Corey Flemming Letter to the Editor, Big carrier Internet conflict

“Although large incumbent operators such as Bell Canada have put in usage caps of between 20 and 60 gigabytes, competitive ISPs like TekSavvy either offer 200 gigabyte caps or even unlimited use. If the rules go into effect, competitive carriers would have to enact similar bandwidth usage limits on usage.”

India Telecom Tracker: Canada’s CRTC postpones implementation of usage-based billing rules

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 14414 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Number Crunching UBB Bandwidth

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 17, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

When the Internet was first opened up to consumers, Canadians we had to pay Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) usage fees in order to connect. We paid by the minute.

Using the internet could be quite expensive that way. So many Canadians did not.

When Bell and Rogers entered the ISP market, they offered Unlimited packages for a flat rate. This was much much more economical for consumers. This is one very important reason why such a high proportion of Canadians went online. Which has unquestionably been very good for Canada’s digital economy.

This caused two huge changes. 

  1. All the Independent ISPs went out of business (or switched to doing something else).
  2. Canadians logged on.   Knowing what the Internet would cost per month made it more accessible.

So what’s the problem?

Once all meaningful competition was gone, even the Canadian Government was able to see that no meaningful competition was a bad deal for consumers.

Now that they shared the market, the phone and cable ISPs rejigged their services, and stopped offering “unlimited” packages. And they introduced “caps.” Prices went from being some of the lowest in the word to being some of the highest. In the few major markets where consumers had the option of choosing between Phone based Internet or Cable based Internet, it seems after a while that the two took turns being the higher priced. Adding insult to injury if you decide to cancel your service you get kit with cancellation fees. My guess is that it averages out over the year.

I don’t know if Bell suspends service when their customers hit their “cap” but I have been told that Rogers does this. By university students.

Being overcharged is bad, but being cut off is unacceptable. Because the Internet is a necessity of life. And I would think that is more true for a University student than anyone else.

Canadian Flag CC-BY lothlaurien.ca

So the Canadian Government mandated competition.

The new Independent ISPs offered unlimited packages. When I switched to TekSavvy I opted to pay a little less for a capped amount of 200GB per month. But my Indie ISP doesn’t cut me off even if I go over a little. They average it over two months, so the next month is likely to be under. I have yet to be hit with an overage charge. So 200GB seems to be a reasonable monthly bandwidth allowance. But that is much higher than the caps Bell is imposing.

One of the biggest problems with the introduction of this type of Usage Based Billing is that consumers can’t see it or measure it ourselves. We don’t understand it. Back when Canadians rejected Minute based UBB at least we understood how much a minute was, so we could understand how much we were being charged.

This is why the knee jerk response– particularly after getting clobbered by an overage bill or two– will be for Canadians to severely curtail our online activity.

Doing the Math

I’m not a math person, but even I can understand this:

“Bell offers 25 Mbps (million bits per second) download speeds, with a 75 GByte cap. 75 GBytes is 600,000 Mbits,

so at 25 Mbps it takes only 6 hours and 40 minutes to use up all your bandwidth for the month…”

Bob Jonkman,
Comment on: Why Do Bell and Rogers Have Customers?

Stop Usage Based Billing



 

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11320 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clement1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



 

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Canadian Market said NO to UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 6, 2010

Telephone poles stretched along side a gravel rural road

No Usage Based Billing
The Internet is an interconnected network of wires connecting computers all around the world. The physical conduit of the Internet is the telephone wire or cable and associated equipment that connects together to form the “infrastructure” or “backbone”.

Because Canadian communications systems must cover great distances to serve a relatively small population these systems have traditionally required special treatment in order to provide Canadians with the services we need to both exist and compete in the first world economy. Although Canada has never had a strict telephone monopoly, from the very beginning different telephone companies provided services in different geographic locations across Canada. Which means we have for the most part had a “virtual monopoly” because each geographic area had only one telephone provider.

Regardless of what Canada’s telecommunication regulator the CRTC seems to think, if you have to sell your house and move to a new geographic location in order to get a different Internet Service provider it does not qualify as “consumer choice”. So although we have different companies providing access to the Internet, a great many Canadians have only one possible Internet Service Provider.

A Mennonite horse and buggy crosses the road

[When discussing the ISP "carriers" I pretty much always say "Bell" for the phone carrier, although in many cases Telus should be included as well. In the same way when I speak of the cable carrier I say "Rogers" to stand in for all the Cable companies, which over all of Canada I understand to also include Shaw, Cogeco, and Vidéotron because from where I sit here they all appear to be marching in lockstep. I do not presume to know if, when or how any of these companies may be interrelated. I myself have only had dealings with Bell and Rogers.]

infrastructure and private property

Somehow Bell Canada never seems to mention that the only way the telephone system we have today could have come into existence was through the goodwill of private property owners and government cooperation. They like to take all the credit for establishing the phone/cable infrastructure, but they could never have done it without our help.

Because the thing to remember is that telephone poles carrying telephone wire cross private land.

Had stringing the wire been left entirely up to the telephone companies, we might still be using smoke signals. Because without government assistance, the phone company would have had to negotiate with every single land owner. Individual property owners would have been able to prevent the telephone wire from crossing their land. Instead of ending up with a system covering all of the settled portions of Canada, we might have ended with many small unconnected pockets of telephone service.

Because as sure as the sun rises in the east, even today there are people who don’t want telephone service.

Certainly some would decline for religious reasons, while others might try to pry excessive sums of money from the phone company in exchange for granting a right-of-way across their property. To prevent such snags which might have rendered the existence of the telephone system impossible, forward thinking government mandated “easements” along the road side portions of private property. This government intervention allows utilities like electricity and telephone companies to put up poles along these easements and then string wires along them, or dig up land to allow cables or pipes to run under this land for the public good. In this way, the government acted to ensure Canada’s technologically wouldn’t lag.

The “who owns the wire” problem is not unique to Canada. Even in countries with dense enough population to support telephone competition it only makes sense to string one wire. Property owners can be persuaded to accept one set of telephone poles running along their land for the common good, but would balk at 5 sets of telephone poles. So even where there are five telephone providers they share the wire.

"Punchcard" photo by Mutatis mutandi

computers

When I was a kid, my Dad took us to a local university to see a gigantic machine that could solve mathematical equations if you fed it punch cards. Punch cards were exactly what they sound like: bits of cardboard with holes punched in them.

The computer programmer communicated with the computer via punchcards. The pattern of the holes made up the program. Back in those days of vacuum tubes, most people could not imagine the possibility that personal computers would ever exist. Computers were simply too big.

But then came miniaturization. Really, weren’t the first home computers was actually the digital calculators that swept over the world in the 1970′s? With the ability to achieve miniaturization, home computers were not far behind. The first home computers were DIY projects; if you wanted a computer you had to put it together. So naturally the first people to have home computers were the techies who could build them.

But it wasn’t long though before enterprising businesses began selling personal computers or PCs that anyone could use. Spreadsheet programs like Lotus Symphony revolutionized the accounting Industry. Desk Top Publishing was born. Games could be played. Calendars kept. The possibilities seemed endless. And they were.

Today ordinary people get personal computers in much the same way we get cars. We no longer need to know how to build or repair one.

the Internet

In the early days of personal computing, people could purchase modems that would connect computers via telephone lines. When your modem was connected to the phone line, it took control of your telephone service. When your computer was talking on the phone, you couldn’t. It got to the point where some computer users would get a second telephone line so their computing time wouldn’t tie up their telephone.

Before the Internet became available to ordinary people, there were independent computer networks. My first venture online was in 1989 with a commercial service called Compuserve. Although the research possibilities were excellent, the fun part was being able to live chat with folks from around the world.

The downside was that it was terribly expensive. You paid by the minute, which can add up quite quickly. Learning how to do anything took a lot of time and every minute online cost money. Although it was fun, being fresh out of college, I simply couldn’t afford it. So I went off line again. The public library was a much more economical place to do research.

I just went to search out Compuserve now. I’m happy they’re still out there. Oh and look… the deal I see is 2 months free to start and after that $17.95 per month unlimited. Twenty years ago my bill for a single month exceeded $100, and that was using one of their more economical billing plans! Times certainly have changed.

Later I became involved with an early computer network, a BBS or “bulletin board system”. These independent computer BBSs were very similar to the Internet forums of today; you posted your comment and it stayed there. People would check in over time and join in the conversation. No live chats here.

But it was an excellent antidote to Compuserve, because it was free. Voluntary donations helped support the system by paying for improved equipment for the people running it. A BBS was not a commercial venture, they were communities… today we’d call them social media… started by a few people with computer know-how and equipment to run it on. People found out about a BBS by word of mouth. Then as now content was important for finding and then keeping an audience.

three AOL disks

four AOL offers on four b;ue enrollment CDs

The people who owned the equipment controlled the BBS, and acted as the system administrators or SYSOPS. But it was the users who brought the BBS to life by beginning new discussion areas and posting conversations and content to the BBS. Because it didn’t happen in real time, the posts were often more thoughtful than live chat. But the owners held ultimate control; they could cut off anyone for any reason. Initially this power was only used to clamp down on abusive behavior; there were online Trolls then as now. Later on personalities and personal politics came into it.

My disillusionment coincided with one heavy contributor being cut off simply for having different attitudes and philosophies– mostly he annoyed the owners. But because he provided so much content and administered so many discussion groups, they didn’t want to cut him off for good, so instead they gave him small suspensions to keep him in line. That type of petty abuse of power is why I left that BBS, and has a lot to do with why I support net neutrality today.

That was around the time when the Internet became generally available to the public. Overnight there were Independent Internet Service Providers springing up all over Canada, and around the world. And although many people signed up, it was far from universal.

an array of internet hook up CDs

There were many seductive elements. Email and Instant Messaging held great appeal. Instant connectivity. Research, information… everything at your finger tips. But in many ways it was a luxury. A plaything. It was only later it became a necessity.

In my recollection, a lot people were initially resistant to going online because it was so expensive. There were many many ISPs, and so competition was fierce. Even so, it was still very expensive. ISPs charged by the minute. The most persistent and pervasive ISPs battling for customers was America Online.

AOL: Usage Based Billing

They must have mailed out hundreds of thousands of AOL sign up CDs. Maybe millions. I know I didn’t start keeping the CDs that kept turning up in my mail initially. Yet I still probably have around thirty of their CDs.   Yet I never did sign up with AOL.   I knew from my Compuserve experience how quickly the usage costs could add up, and how expensive it would be.   Not to mention virtually impossible to budget for.

AOL usage based offers

The AOL marketing campaign is writ large across those old CDs.
540 Hours Free
1000 Hours Free
1344 Hours Free
2000 Hours Free
3 Months Free
$9.95 for 6 months

AOL tried giving better and better introductory offers but it just did not work. After the early adopters, the techno types who would do whatever it took to be online — and more importantly pay whatever had to be paid– the mostly ordinary people just weren’t interested. It was a big cash outlay, after all. Just getting a reasonable computer system cost around three thousand dollars.

My first PC had a double floppy drive — not even a hard drive — a black & white screen — a dot matrix printer.  Three grand.

After laying out the green, most of us weren’t ready to sign away the rest of our disposable income for the Internet. Because after AOL’s “introduction period” was over, it would be back to the very pricey Usage Based Billing options. It just cost too much.

And there wasn’t even the content available online that there is today.

Certainly finding what you wanted took work, and learning is very expensive when you’re being billed per minute. The point is, you didn’t NEED to go online. You could buy a whole encyclopedia on one CD, or a spreadsheet program, a word processor or graphics software or games, and your computer could do everything you needed it to. People didn’t need the Internet. It was just too expensive. A toy.

What happened to AOL? The king of marketing? At one point they were the one to beat. They marketed the heck out of the Internet. Who else could afford to scatter CDs across the land with such bold abandon. Or convince respectable venerated Canadian banking institutions… notably some of the most caution in the world… to partner them? What cataclysm could have done for AOL?

Wait a minute:

Canada had ISP competition?  

Canada?

What happened to all those ISPs?

Bell Sympatico and Rogers Internet

enter the carriers

Bell Canada and Rogers Cable entered the fray.

Bell Canada was the major telephone carrier; they controlled and maintained the telephone cable backbone. Telephone traffic traveled over this wire, and now Internet traffic did too. Up until this time, Bell Canada just had phone lines, they were the major telephone carrier who controlled the wire backbone connecting home computer users to the Internet.

But now, Bell decided they wanted to get into the internet game. So Bell hung out a shingle as an Internet Service Provider, or ISP.

When Rogers entered the market they brought their own backbone in the form of urban cable connections. The first time I recall hearing about Rogers as an ISP they were offering high speed Internet connections. I wasn’t paying much attention back then. One minute there were scads pf Canadian ISPs and the next there were only two.

Bell and Rogers introduced “Unlimited Internet” into the Canadian market

Bell and Rogers used their corporate might to introduce low cost UNLIMITED Internet service packages that the smaller ISPs could not possibly match. Offering unlimited Internet access made trying it much more palatable because learning how to use it was no longer prohibitively expensive. Not only did customers switch to Bell and Rogers in droves, but more:

elimination of usage based billing allowed the Canadian Internet Market to really take off.

Canadian consumers told the market in no uncertain terms that we did not want the Internet on a Usage Based Billing model.

Low cost entry into the Internet made Canadians embrace the Internet. This is why Canada was an early adopter, and a leader in Internet use. Even though it didn’t take long for prices to climb. Since the other competitors were gone, Bell and Rogers had the market carved up between them so prices began to rise rapidly.

The Internet has impacted on just about every type of business there is. We buy and sell on eBay or Amazon. We pay our bills online. We can read Canadian laws online. Get up to the minute weather reports. We watch TVor read the newspaper online. Canada Post is offering to deliver email.

the Canadian Internet market clearly said “No” to Usage Based Billing

Because customers overwhelmingly chose “Unlimited” over the usage based pricing model, Bell and Rogers got the added bonus of eliminating the competition. Bell and Rogers were vying for supremacy so they built good infrastructure to offer the fastest best service. Back then, Canada had some of the best Internet access speeds at some of the lowest prices in the world.

This is a very large part of the reason that Canadians embraced the Internet so whole heartedly.

But the upshot is that Canada was left with only two ISPs. It was such a monumental error that even the Canadian Government noticed, and stepped in and told Bell and Rogers that they would have to share the infrastructure so that competitors could enter the Internet market in an attempt to re-introduce competition.

I’m not quite sure why, but it seems that all the Independent ISPs seem to get their Internet connection through Bell. When Bell set up the “Gateway Access System” (GAS) through which they sell wholesale bandwidth to the Independent Internet Service Providers The CRTC allowed Bell to set their own prices. Naturally they set very high prices. The Independent ISPs could then redistribute the bandwidth however they saw fit.

Canadian paper money, photo by laurelrusswurm

At first Bell was happy since they were making money from their GAS business. They were probably surprised that the Independent ISPs provided low priced packages and good Internet service without gouging that have built loyalty for the Independents. It’s funny how just about anyone you ask has at least one Bell or Rogers horror story in their repertoire, but I’ve never heard any about the Independent ISPs.

Canada’s place as an Internet leader has been slipping badly. Although Bell has done basic maintenance on their phone/Internet infrastructure they seem to have neglected the continuous upgrading they should have done. In real terms that makes Canada’s Internet service of today hopelessly out of date. What was cutting edge 15 years ago is paleolithic today.

Although the service has stayed the same with little or no infrastructure improvements Canadian Internet costs have been climbing.

(Make no mistake: the inflated Internet costs that Bell and Rogers have been charging have been more than enough to cover upgrades.)

Many Canadians went online because it was affordable back then, but that is no longer true.

Now, at a time when it has become more important to go in the Internet– to do our banking, pay our bills, find jobs, do school work– today Canadian Internet rates are some of the highest in the world. The Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity for Canadians. But not all Canadians can afford to even go online. The “digital divide” is yawning already, but now it’s about to get even worse.

Because the CRTC has approved Bell’s application to begin Usage Based Billing.

Real costs have nothing to do with it. Market forces have nothing to do with it.

The CRTC will allow our Internet rates to double to economically force Canadians to reduce Internet use.

CRTC #fail



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10925 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Why Do Bell and Rogers Have Customers?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 10, 2010

No Usage Based BillingUnlike many Canadians, I am fortunate to live in an area where there is Internet competition.   The title question is something I’ve often wondered.

My family switched our Internet account to the Independent Internet Service Provider Tek Savvy a long time ago, and we have never for a minute regretted this.   Since then, we have received lots of junk mail from both Bell and Rogers attempting to get us to switch, but their special offers never seem as good a deal as we get from Tek Savvy.

Tek Savvy

I just paid my monthly flat rate Tek Savvy Invoice:

$29.95 per month before taxes
5 Mbps download speed
200 Gigabyte cap

Tek Savvy averages the 200 Gigabyte cap over 2 months, so if we’re a little over one month it balances out with the next when we’re a little under.   Having never been charged for exceeding the 200 Gigabytes bandwidth I don’t have any idea what going over would cost.

Before doing a comparison, I’d better explain that I had to buy a modem in order to connect to Tek Savvy. If memory serves, it cost in the neighborhood of a couple hundred dollars.

Another interesting note: if we were to decide to change ISPs, Tek Savvy doesn’t charge a penalty.   From what I’ve heard there are very heavy penalties for leaving other Internet service providers…


I took a look at the Internet packages that Bell Canada Offers:

Bell Canada’s Premium Internet Package

Bell Canada’s premium package is Fibe 25, pricing starts at $52.95 per month. For that you get 75GB/month; $1.00/additional GB, (max. $30/mo.), rounded up to the next GB.

Bell’s Fibe 25

  • Speeds of up to 25 Mbps1
  • New, next generation fibre optic network
  • Free wireless home networking and free Wi-Fi at Starbucks – a Bell exclusive
  • Security Advanced service included

But if you look closely you’ll see there are lots of “weasel words” in this advertising copy.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Performance you want

  • Faster download speeds – up to 25 Mbps.1
  • Fastest upload speeds in the market – up to 7 Mbps
  • Internet usage: 75 GB of bandwidth per month

Weasel words like ”up to 25 Mbps”

The speeds offered are ”up to” which means Bell doesn’t actually have to ensure customer speeds of 25Mbps.   If you get speeds of 2 Mbps instead of 25 Mbps Bell does not even have to give you a discount.  

Now, I’m not a tech person, but I have a real hard time understanding why download speeds are up to 25Mbps while upload speeds are at best 7 Mbps.

Funny, there is no ambiguity about the 75 GB of bandwidth per month that you get.   If you go a little over that limit, make no mistake, you will be charged.   The ONLY way this could be at all equitable would be if you are credited for under use, but of course Bell doesn’t offer that.

People who do know how to measure their Mbps speeds seem to think that the speeds Bell customers get are nowhere near the speeds claimed in Bell advertising.

And what about “throttling”? Bell Canada has carte blanch permission to throttle internet traffic.   They are allowed to slow down your transfer speeds.

Even worse, Bell Canada has CRTC permission to slow down my speeds, and I’m not even a Bell Canada Customer.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Wireless, free and exclusive

  • Free wireless home networking for all your home computers
  • An extra wireless N router included at no extra cost so you can connect computers, Wi-Fi devices to the Internet at the fastest speed available
  • Connect wirelessly to share files and printers
  • Free Wi-Fi Internet access at over 650 Starbucks® locations across Canada

They talk about providing a free wireless router.   What if your computers don’t have wireless cards?   Are they outfitting all of that?   From my point of view, I’m looking for an Internet connection.   Whether I tap into the connection with or without wires, I’d think that was my decision.   It sounds as though they are including a wireless router for free.

Meanwhile, they charge you a monthly rental fee for the the modem you need to connect to the Internet.

I wonder why Bell is making such a big deal out of this.   It kind of makes me wonder if they are actually foreshadowing one day soon when they’ll start charging a steep surcharge on wireless access.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Built-in security
Enjoy Security Advanced service which protects up to three computers in your home from viruses and hackers.   Includes anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, fraud protection, disk optimizer, parental controls, 5 GB of Personal Vault storage, pop-up blocker and information protection.

Do I really want Bell Canada to be in control of my internet security?

Bell Canada, this same Internet carrier who applied and received permission from the CRTC to deploy Deep Packet Inspection in order to better discriminate against certain types of Internet Traffic?   As pointed out by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (and ignored by the CRTC) this may in fact be a serious invasion of Canadian privacy.   Depending on how it is configured, and who is running it, DPI allows inspection of your packets– that is to say, whatever you upload or download from the internet.   Including email. Photographs. Home videos. In essence, the CRTC ruling gave Bell Canada legal permission to look into any of our unencrypted internet traffic. Bell Canada promised not to abuse this ability, and that was good enough for the CRTC, who didn’t impose any kind of oversight, so there is no means of policing Bell Canada’s use of DPI.   In essence, the CRTC gave Bell the key to all of our unencrypted private data.   For further information visit the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website hosting A Collection of Essays from Industry Experts on the Privacy aspects of DPI.

Am I really going to compound this by giving Bell control of my computer security too?

I don’t think so.

Maybe you are willing to trust every Bell Canada employee with access to your personal information, but me, I’m careful.   I don’t know their names, and even if did, I haven’t got the time or money to do background checks on them all. And we all know that background checks are fallible too.

You have to actually click on the “Certain Conditions apply” to see that:

Bell Canada’s fine print

  • Only available where technology permits
  • First, you pay a “One time activation fee ($29.95)” (– waived for Bell TV subscribers — isn’t that discriminatory?)
  • Modem rental ($6.95/mo.) extra.
  • $25 fee applies if you downgrade to slower-speed service
  • Additional service fee ($50 plus tax) applies upon early termination.
  • 30-day notice required to cancel service
  • Subject to change without notice and cannot be combined with any other offer.

[1] Speeds on the Internet may vary with your configuration, Internet traffic, server, applicable network management or other factors; see bell.ca/internet.

[2] Additional equipment required, including cables and adapters. (even MORE hidden charges)
[3] Also available to customers where Bell TV service is not available.

Available to new customers and existing Bell Internet dial-up customers who sign up for Bell Fibe 25 Internet on a 1-year contract and at least 1 other select service; see bell.ca/bundle. Monthly rate $67.95 (subject to change), less $10 credit for months 1 to 12 ($5 ongoing as a Bell TV customer), and $5 Bundle discount. Bundle discount may be terminated by Bell upon 30-day notice.

Fibe 25

they get you coming and going

You pay $29.95 to sign up for this high speed package. Then there are modem rental and unspecified equipment/cables/adapters.

But if it isn’t all you were led to believe, and you choose to downgrade to slower-speed service, Bell Canada hits you with another fee, this time $25.

Canceling altogether costs $50 plus tax and it takes them thirty days (on the clock) to do it.

All for connection speeds that are not even guaranteed.

Bell Canada seems to be offering a contract where the customer is locked in, while everything Bell “commits to” is vague, flexible and subject to change without notice.   Doesn’t sound very fair to me.

Rogers

Rogers offers a graduated series of packages, beginning with low transfer speeds and low bandwidth.
The lowest tier is Rogers Ultra-Lite, with 500kbps speed and 2Gigabites bandwidth for $27.99/month.
If you go over your limit, you are charged an additional $5.00/GB

Lite:
3 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 25 Gigabytes bandwidth for $35.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.50/GB

Express:
10 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 60 Gigabytes bandwidth for $46.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

Extreme:
10 Mbps download, Up to 512Kbps upload speed allows you 95 Gigabytes bandwidth for $59.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.50/GB

Extreme Plus:
25 Mbps download, Up to 1Mbps upload speed allows you 125 Gigabytes bandwidth for $69.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.25/GB

Ultimate:
50 Mbps download, Up to 2Mbps upload speed allows you 175 Gigabytes bandwidth for $99.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

Rogers pricing

Rogers Ultimate Fine Print

† Speeds may vary with Internet traffic, server or other factors.   Also see the Acceptable Use Policy at rogers.com/terms.   Modem set-up: the system is configured to maximum modem capabilities within Rogers own network.

†† Usage allowances apply on a monthly basis and vary by tier of service.   Charges apply for additional use beyond the monthly usage allowance associated with your tier of service.   For details, visit rogers.com/keepingpace.

†††Rogers Hi Speed Internet (delivered over cable) and Portable Internet from Rogers currently manages upstream peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications speed to a maximum of 80 kbps per customer. This policy is maintained at all times. For information on Rogers Internet traffic management practices and Legal Disclosure click here.

1 Taxes and a $14.95 one-time activation fee apply, plus $7.00/mth modem rental or $199.95 modem purchase.

** The times specified are approximations and will vary depending on size and quality of content.

***Service only available in some areas in the GTA within Rogers serviceable areas. Digital TV subscription required.

Q: Why do Bell And Rogers Have Customers?

For an internet connection, there are really only two things to consider, the amount you can upload and download and the speed.
So my family gets 200 Gigabytes and 5 Mbps download speed for $29.95/month from Tek Savvy.

Rogers Ultimate offers 175 Gigabytes at 50 Mbps download speed for $99.99/month.

Bell’s Bell’s Fibe 25 offers of 75 Gigabytes at 25 Mbps download speed for $52.95/month

Although both Bell and Rogers claim to offer much higher Internet transfer speeds than I get from Tek Savvy, they are careful to tell you over and over again on their website that they are not actually obligated to deliver these speeds.   They are advertising “up to” speeds.

Since you can’t actually count on getting the advertised speed, really the only thing open for comparison is the allowed download/upload Gigabytes.   From where I sit, Bell and Rogers want to charge me a great deal more than I am paying Tek Savvy for a greatly reduced amount of download/upload Gigabytes.

So I really don’t get it. Why would people pay so much for so little?

The only answer that I can see is that for a great deal of Canada, the only choice available to Canadians is Bell Canada or Rogers.

Thanks to CRTC approval of Usage Based Billing, pretty soon that may be true for all of Canada.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10728 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Trollbusters

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 1, 2010

Trolls: Sometimes Trolls are Welcome.  There are many different types of Troll.  This Troll was the hit of a D&D convention.  The one place trolls are never welcome is on the internet.

StopUBB seems to have acquired its own troll.
(Click on the troll to see a larger image.)

Instead of simply leaving my responses to troll-dom buried in the comments, I thought my time would be better spent with an article about Internet Trolls.

No Usage Based Billing

Internet Anonymity

One of the strengths of the Internet is that it usually possible to comment anonymously. The reason that this is a strength is that it allows people to share information — whistle blowing information in particular — with less personal risk. This is good for society.

Another strength of the Internet is that it is largely “self-correcting”. Because commenting is encouraged most places, and an awful lot of information is available for user-editing, when someone gets something on the internet wrong, there is usually someone who will correct them. So if a “whistle blower” turns out to be someone spreading malicious information, they will be outed and discredited very quickly. This is fabulous.

Now, I have never made any secret of the fact that although I deal with a lot of technical things in this blog, I am not a technical person. If I get something wrong, I want to know about it, so that I can correct it. That’s one reason that my name and email address are plastered all over my blogs. It has to do with credibility. If you want to correct me loudly, you can do it in a comment. If you prefer to do it quietly, you can send me email. (Don’t worry, thanks to some really smart tech people I have a very good spam filter.)

The reason I started this blog was to help other non-technical internet users understand the issue of Usage Based Billing. As an ordinary person myself I have to first learn about the issues and processes before I can hope to write about them. I have lately increased the scope of this blog to cover internet freedom issues like Net Neutrality and ACTA which will also impact negatively on ordinary Internet users. The point of this blog is to demystify the computerese so that ordinary people can understand the issues that will affect us all. Computers and the Internet are no longer luxuries.

I am fortunate in that I’ve had some good instructors, and for things I’ve researched on my own I’ve had excellent feedback. As well I know I have a few very technically astute readers who will not hesitate to provide technical correction where warranted.

European troll with a walking stick stands on a city street.

Trolls

A problem that has emerged out of Internet anonymity is a type of commenter which has come to be known as a “Troll”. Trolls comment wherever they think they can do damage. In forums, Facebook, blogs, and news articles.

Some trolls are just the internet version a vandals; they want to wreck things, or stir things up. Some delight in the power they feel in arguing about anything or everything. They will jump into any argument and take the contrary position just for the fun of it. This type of troll has been around since the earliest days of computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes were the early forums on independent computer networks that predate public access to the Internet of today).

As the Internet has achieved wider readership and acceptance, there has emerged a new class of troll, Professional Lobbyist Trolls. I’m guessing that at least some of these trolls receive a paycheck for their efforts, although it’s conceivable that some simply work for the corporation they are lobbying for. Whether they are officially remunerated for troll comments or not, I consider these people to be Professional Trolls because they engage in troll behaviour for gain.

The first kind of troll exists because they feel empowered through the argument. These trolls often engage in bullying tactics. The standard advice for dealing with these amateur trolls is “Don’t feed the troll.” This means that they should be ignored, because they will never back off. The more you respond, the worse they get. By ignoring them you deprive them of their power. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work because some of them will simply continue to escalate the abuse until a response is forthcoming.

The second type of troll exists because a special interest group – usually a corporation or a political party – is engaging in activity or behaviour that the public will not agree with because it is not in the best interests of the public. The professional troll’s job is to con us into thinking that it will be in our best interests, or if that doesn’t fly, that it’s necessary to make a sacrifice for some reason.

When CBC online runs a story decrying a bad corporate behaviour or government policy, something that triggers thousands of public online comments, often the special interest group behind the bad behaviour or policy tries to stem the tide of public negativity by sending in Professional Trolls. These trolls spread misinformation intended to muddy the waters and try to dissipate or minimize the public outrage. Trolls will attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting a different scapegoat, or more commonly by trying to cast doubt on the credibility of the information. Professional trolls have a whole arsenal of weapons for attacking an idea on every front except merit. That’s the biggest problem professional trolls have to overcome — a lack of valid arguments.

You can usually spot a Professional Troll because they are arguing against the good of society. The corporation, political group or ideology that the troll is advocating/lobbying for, will always gain something at the expense of others, usually the public. Because ordinary citizens don’t have lobbyists.

The StopUBB Troll

First I’ll reprint the Troll Comments I received today followed by my Comment Reply. Then I’ll break the troll’s comment down and analyze the flaws.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Wow so much FUD in this article. Not a Rogers employee, but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense, and guess what, carriers all pay on usage, broadband customers can to. You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Lol the Troll is spreading misinformation again… Although protesting that it is “Not a Rogers employee”, Lol the Troll‘s email address is through an offline “holding company” website with a Rogers IP address. Certainly looks suspicious.   Lol the Troll claims that “carriers all pay on usage”. Either Lol the Troll truly doesn’t understand (intelligence is not a pre-requisite for troll-dom) or is being disingenuous. Bell Canada is a “carrier”.  I doubt Bell Canada pays usage to anyone.

Admittedly, Rogers is also a carrier. Rogers doesn’t usually have to pay for internet access on it’s own cable, but there are some parts of Canada where Rogers is forced to go through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System (GAS), so I expect at those junctures, Bell is charging usage to Rogers. You would think that Bell and Rogers would be able to play nicely together, but neither share very well, and though they seem to work in conjunction at times, both want to be the only Canadian Internet monopoly.

The Independent Service Providers… that is to say, the Independent ISPs that Industry Canada mandated into the Canadian Internet market in order to provide Canadian consumers with access to competition, must purchase access to Bell Canada’s GAS as well. My understanding is that the Independents are ISPs not carriers. They do in fact pay a great deal for their internet access.

The Independent ISPs have contracted for blocks of bandwidth access with Bell Canada. Bell Canada was able to set the excessive prices they wanted, and the Independent ISPs agreed to pay the high prices Bell Canada set.   So Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth the Independent ISPs get through GAS. These independent ISPs do business by packaging the bandwidth differently than Bell Canada does. Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth that these ISPs re-sell to their own customers.

Usage Based Billing would mean that the Independent Service Providers’ customers would be forced to pay Bell Canada for “usage” that has already been paid for. The Independent ISPs are fighting against UBB because they don’t believe that their customers should have to pay more for the same service they get now. Usage Based Billing will also force the Independent ISPs to use Bell Canada’s pricing system, which will unfairly shackle their business model and most likely put them out of business.

Lol the Troll also attempts to discredit me personally as someone who doesn’t pay for my own Internet connection. Lol the Troll is accusing me of being an unproductive young person, without life experience, living in my parents basement, presumably off my parents.

First of all, a young person living in their parent’s basement is not necessarily unproductive. And age does not always bring life experience.   Considering that Lol the Troll made a second post with the same type of denigration on the About UBB and Me a page that very clearly says who I am, it is reasonable to think that Lol the Troll just wanted to try to discredit me, not caring about accuracy.

Now for the point by point Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Wow so much FUD in this article. “
Broad statement. Opinion, not fact. Attempt to establish street cred by using the acronym “FUD”. This actually backfires since the wikipedia definition points to someone with a marketing or political background. Precisely the demographic for professional trolls.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty and doubt, a marketing or political strategy.

Wikipedia

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Not a Rogers employee,”
Attempting to discredit my information without any validity. I’m sure Rogers has competent as well as incompetent staff just like any other large corporation. Working for Rogers wouldn’t make me an expert. Anymore than not working for Rogers would.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense,”
Saying the information is wrong without any supporting information. aka “Because I say so”. Lol is spouting nonsense. Thanks to research I quite understand why DPI is illegal in Europe, and ought to be here. At minimum it needs oversight.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “and guess what, carriers all pay on usage,”
Argument based on Fallacy. Partly correct, not remotely logical. Having just read the Wikipedia page I am amazed… the fallacy page is pretty much a Troll Primer. If you think a comment was made by a troll, chances are their argument will contain at least one of the fallacies listed on the Wikipedia page.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “broadband customers can to.”
Presence of the incorrect “to” indicates someone overly reliant on spell check.
The argument is specious. The points have nothing to do with each other.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.”
Inept inaccurate personal attack as a means of discrediting the accurate information I provide.

As mentioned, the other appearance of Lol the Troll is on my About UBB and Me page.

a naked rainbow haired troll doll, a naked blue haired troll doll with blue gem inset at navel, yellow haired and pink haired baby trolls wearing bibs and nappys, a white haired baby troll in a bunny suit, and a yellow haired troll wearing balloon trunks

My younger sisters were quite into troll dolls when we were kids. I couldn't see the attraction.

I actually saw this one first.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!

Since the attempt at putting me down is so patently “out there” I didn’t bother arguing the point.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 8:26 am
Ooohh look— StopUBB got its very own troll! My very own troll! Awesome.
And not only that, a troll who can’t read!
Even funnier, one who is parroting misinformation. Guess that’s why it calls itself “Lol”.

Now for the Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. “
Ridiculous attempt at a personal attack especially considering that it is made directly below my biographical information.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. “
Aside from the incoherence, it appears that Lol the Troll is trying to sell the lie that Usage based billing will make the Internet cheaper for people who do not use torrents. Usage Based Billing charges will be assessed in addition to what users currently pay in Internet rates. Nowhere in any part of the official Bell Canada Usage Based Billing submission to the CRTC did Bell ever make any claim that any user would be paying less than they are paying now. But trolls can say what they want.
Lol the Troll is also attempting to imply that all torrent traffic is illegal or bad in some way, when readers of StopUBB know that isn’t accurate.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!”
Another vague attempt at personal attack in combination with casting aspersions on the excellent BitTorrent protocol, which is not only legal, but used for many excellent things, like distribution of Free Open Source software. Or Project Gutenberg.


I hope this article has made troll spotting a little easier.

I’ll leave you with my kid’s favorite web comic XKCD‘s take on amateur trolls:



[Image Credits:
D&D Troll photograph by Benny Mazur (benimoto)
European Walking Stick Troll Photo by HuBar, Wikimedia Commons
Troll Family Group, photo by Felicity Green, aka mygothlaundry, Flickr
the Troll in the “Troll Busters” logo was provided by Roixa RRG You can see more of her work in her ROIXA RRG blog
And of course thanks to Randall Munroe for publishing XKCD under a Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution Non-Commercial license which allowed me to reprint his comic in its entirety.]

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 22, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

The Usage Based Billing Issue will have a huge impact on all Canadians.

But it can be difficult for those of us who are not technically minded to follow the raging debate because we don’t know the jargon. So I’ve put together a Glossary. I’m not an expert, and in fact I’ve only learned what many of these things mean myself in the last week, but no one else is likely to do this, because:

  • The Big Three don’t want us to understand what’s happening because it is much easier to get away with stuff in a democracy if the populace doesn’t understand what is happening.
  • At the same time most of the technical people who are trying to fight this have been living and breathing this issue so long that it doesn’t even occur to them that most ordinary Canadians only understand about half of what they’re saying.

As always, if I get anything wrong, let me know so I can correct it.

Most of the jargon is too new to be in a dictionary, and although some of this is explained in wikipedia, not everything is. GAS, for example. That’s actually what convinced me this glossary was necessary. Because when learning about UBB I couldn’t figure out what gas had to do with the internet.

Although variations on these issues are being faced in other countries, at this time I am dealing exclusively with the Canadian version. I posted some of these definitions in the comments section of CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate yesterday.

UBB: A Glossary

bandwidth

Bandwidth provides a classic example of why regular people have a hard time understanding a lot of this, because it describes two very different rates of transfer.

Bandwidth is the measurement of download speed, measured in how many bits per second you can download.
Bandwidth has also come to refer to the transfer cap being placed on Canadian internet users, which is measured in gigabytes.

Put another way, bandwidth is a data transfer measurement of
(a) how fast you can go at any given time – your rate of speed, or
(b) how how far you can go in any given month – your allowed capacity.

Bell Canada

Looking at the Bell Canada homepage tells us that this corporation provides these services:

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service – Bell Mobility)
  • Internet (aka ISP – Sympatico)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting – express vue TV)
  • Home Phone

From its humble beginning as a crown corporation intended to string telephone wires across Canada, Bell Canada no longer simply provides telephone service. Instead we find Bell Canada firmly in the position of providing both the medium and the message. And apparently this is not enough. (Perhaps it’s time to look at dismantling this telecommunications giant.)

Big Three

Sometimes called the New Big 3, these are the three big Canadian telecommunication players, Telus, Bell Canada and Rogers Cable.

Canada

The Arrogant Worms sing that Canada Is Really Big and they’re right. The fact that Canada is physically the largest country in North America is one compelling reason why internet access is so important for Canadians. Like the railroad before it, the internet helps to connect Canadians to Canadians.

When telephone service first became viable in the early 20th century, no independent company would have had the resources to string the phone wires from coast to coast. The sheer size of Canada is also the reason why most of the Canadian telephone cable infrastructure was paid for by Canadian tax dollars. And why Bell Canada is forced to share this infrastructure with independent ISPs. Bell Canada is only the custodian of the Canadian telephone infrastructure, not the owner of it.

CanCon

A quota system established by the CRTC which is supposed to ensure that Canadian Broadcasters play a percentage of Canadian Content. The terms and definitions of this quota have varied over the years.

Carrier

The corporation controlling the wires. (aka The Big Three)

CRTC

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission or CRTC is supposed to be an independent public organization that regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications systems.

“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public. The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions.”
from Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission: Mandate

Deep Packet Inspection (or DPI)

Deep Packet Inspection allows Bell Canada the internet equivalent of opening your mail. The CRTC allowed them to look at anything you do online without having to go to the trouble of getting a warrant. How many people send encrypted email?

Deregulation

In the context of the CRTC and UBB, Degulation would be the removal of governmental control by rules or restrictions on the Canadian telecommunications industry.
Many Canadians believe that the CRTC is corrupt but that replacing the CRTC with an alternative regulatory body would simply create new corruption, and want no regulation of the Canadian telecommunications industry.

Dissolve the CRTC

Dissolve the CRTC is both a website and an online petition. Actually, I guess I’d have to call it a rallying cry as well.

Many Canadians believe that the CRTC is corrupt but that it would be possible to replace the CRTC with an alternative regulatory body which would act in the best interest of Canadians. Because many Canadians believe that good regulation of the Canadian telecommunications industry would be the best for Canada.

dsl

Internet connectivity provided over the wires of a telephone network is called a Digital Subscriber Line or dsl.

GAS

GAS, or the Gateway Access Service is how Bell Canada allows Independent ISPs access to their hardware.

Independent ISP

An Independent Internet Service Provider (ISP) purchases Gateway Access to the infrastructure (the wires) from the carrier, which they then break down into smaller packages which they sell directly to their customers.

ISP

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a corporate entity which delivers internet connectivity directly to the public.

In Canada this includes:

  • Independent ISPs who sell internet service directly to the public, as well as the
  • Carriers who also compete directly with the Independent ISPs by selling internet service directly to the public.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is the idea that the internet should be allowed to be free of restrictions so that it can be an unshaped resource. The particular Canadian issues is the Canadian consumer desire to stop the telcoms from controlling internet content or throttle the users.

From the CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate comments
The Sjarv wrote:
“If you want to compare internet usage to products like electricity or water, you must first provide modems that can access the internet unshaped with maximum speed allowed, let the personal computers regulate the speed, then you can charge for the amount consumed. Similar to facets and breaker boxes.”

Regulation

In the context of the CRTC and UBB, Regulation is the governmental control by rules or restrictions on the Canadian telecommunications industry. The rationale is to to control market entries, prices and standards for the benefit of Canada and Canadian consumers.

Rogers

Rogers Communications

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service)
  • Internet (aka ISP)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting)
  • Home Phone

Like Bell Canada, Rogers Communications now provides both the medium and the message. Perhaps it’s time to look at dismantling this telecommunications giant as well.

Telcoms

Telecommunication Companies

Telus

Telus is the third member of the Big Three. Funny, they also provide

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service)
  • Internet (aka ISP)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting)
  • Home Phone

providing both the medium and the message, like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications. Dismantling may be a good idea here too.

Throttling

By doing a deep packet inspection Bell Canada can identify bittorrent traffic and discard a packet you have sent with a request , so you never get a reply, which forces you to resend it.

This increases the amount of packets you have to send and it takes far longer for your packets to get through. When the internet carrier drops a percentage of your packets it slows down your transfer speed. But although the packets the carrier throttles don’t go anywhere, you are still charged for them. This pads your bandwidth usage. So when you send or receive a 5 gigabyte file you might be charged for a 7gigabyte transfer.

Transfer Cap

The maximum amount of internet use you will be allowed before the plug is pulled.

Usage Based Billing

In addition to the rates already being paid by internet subscribers, CRTC is allowing the carrier Bell Canada to charge all internet subscribers for the amount of bandwidth they supposedly use. (Even those of us who are not even their customers.) If this is actually implemented Rogers won;t be far behind.

The so-called “Usage Based Billing” will at best be based on inaccurate measure of supposed bandwidth use– as determined by Bell Canada.

VoiP

Voice Over Internet Protocol are Internet services which allow internet users to speat to one another using the internet rather than their telephone, provided by services like Skype, Yahoo and Rogers.


A few more links from CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate comments

The full Usage Based Billing that the CRTC has tentatively agreed to (excepting the “uncorrelated usage charge”) can be found here”
Usage Based Billing Zip File Thanks to btimmins

Over 6000 Canadian comments urging the CRTC to turn down the UBB application can be found at CRTC’s web site — Thanx to Abattoir6


I was just sent this link to an excellent April 14th Vaxination Informatique letter sent to the CRTC (or view the Google html version

This letter clearly identifies a plethora of problems stemming from Usage Based Billing. Thanx Bob.

Petition Update: as of time of writing, the Dissolve the CRTC petition is up to 4537 signatures!

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