interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Usage Based Billing: The Misinformation War

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 26, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

It sure seems as if Big Brother is alive and well and living in Canada.

I’m beginning to think the misinformation being spread about Usage Based Billing is deliberate.

So here’s my attempt to address some of the pervasive misinformation I keep finding online. Funny, it’s always spread by anonymous or pseudonymous people.

Misinformation: Bell Canada’s infrastructure was privately funded.

False. Because of Canada’s sheer size, Canadian governments have done things to try to connect us. Once that meant building a railroad from coast to coast. In the early twentieth century, it meant creating a crown corporation called Bell Canada to run wire from coast to coast providing telephone service to Canadians. The Canadian telephone cable infrastructure was created through governmental protection and regulation protected and supported in its deployment, which is why Bell Canada is forced to share this infrastructure.

Bell Canada is only the custodian of the Canadian telephone infrastructure, not the owner of it. The Canadian government could have just as easily set up an independent body to manage the infrastructure. Maybe it’s time.

Misinformation: The Independent ISPs should be reinvesting all their profit in building their own infrastructure.

False. That would be nice but so far all they’ve had time for has been to run an honest business and re-invest every spare nickel in the self defence needed to strategize and battle against whatever the current Bell Canada effort to put them out of business.

Of course if we wanted a level playing field, along with dissolving the CRTC the Canadian government could simply dismantle Bell Canada. How many minutes would Sympatico last in a free market if they had to actually compete?

Misinformation: Internet service is slow because your neighbor is downloading movies.

False. If the internet is slow it is because Bell Canada is deliberately slowing it down by the process they call throttling.

Misinformation: When your neighbor downloads movies or music he is stealing.

False. In Canada peer to peer downloading is legal. Downloading a copyrighted movie would be copyright infringement, but only if the copyright holder doesn’t allow it. Depending on the license, it may be perfectly legal to download movies.

Bell Canada’s “throttling” of the internet actually comes much closer to stealing since customers are forced to pay for bandwidth that they don’t receive.

Misinformation: The Independent ISPs are making huge profits.

False. The huge profits are going to Bell Canada (and the rest of the Big 3) leaving the Independent ISPs to function on the crumbs that are left. And still, they provide better deals and better service and make a reasonable profit.

Misinformation: The internet is getting full. It will clog up and crash.

False. This is an urban doomsday legend that has been around pretty much as long as there’s been an internet. Sometimes referred to as the exaflood it is basically a fallacious prediction that the internet will come crashing to a halt because there is not enough space for everything we are using it for. This is used to justify inflationary pricing. Like for instance Usage Based Billing. In fact, if the Internet were full, there wouldn’t be any room in it for Bell’s inflationary practice of throttling.

Misinformation: There is a lot of competition in the Canadian internet market.

False. This one is often used to explain why the CRTC does not do its job. There is some competition. The small internet companies went into business to provide a service to Canadian customers. I’m willing to bet that setting up as an Internet Service Provider is not cheap. But those who have went into it in good faith, naïvely assuming that government watch dog (the CRTC) would at least keep things fair. If Usage Based Billing is actually implemented, most, if not all, will suffer severe economic reverses and may not be able to stay in business.

If that is allowed to happen it would be the end of competition, leaving the field to the Big 3. Aka monopoly.

Mudslinging, ad hominem attacks, name calling or otherwise trying to discredit the opposition by malicious innuendo is another generally used tactic when there is little to say for the position you’re defending.

Remember: Just because it’s in writing doesn’t mean it’s true.

The petition is at 5593 signatures!

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