interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Getting Up To Speed on UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 3, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

More and more Internet users are beginning to become aware that Canadian Internet rates are about to skyrocketing because of Usage Based Billing. This blog isn’t really intended for the programmers and Canada’s technical community. They have long known about the issue, and have been fighting it all along. The problem is, they make up only a tiny special interest group, making them easy for the government and the CRTC to ignore.

This Stop UBB blog is intended for ordinary Internet users who will, for the most part, be blindsided by Usage Based Billing when it hits. Because the mainstream media hasn’t really covered this. CBC online is the only mainstream media outlet that has covered the story with any kind of consistency. Periodically I’ve searched the Globe and Mail website and never found any information on this subject. Which is why I started learning about related issues like Net Neutrality. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Globe and Mail has not done a very good job of making Canadians aware of UBB. Because the Globe is owned to a greater or lesser extent by Bell. As is CTV. I’ve always intended this as an online reference, so people can understand what it is really about. It’s a complicated issue.

So as “D Day” or “UBB Day” approaches, I thought I’d get things rolling again with my recommendations for which posts to start with if you’re just finding out about this.

Starting Line-up

I recommend starting with:

  1. A good basic overview of UBB is the very first article I wrote in my personal blog. The enormity of it is what made me realize UBB needed a whole blog:
    A Disservice to Canada
  2. The Glossary is really important to be able to understand UBB, since the jargon is so new, words like “bandwidth” mean two different things, and complicating matters further, Bell uses some terms differently than the rest of the world does. Usage Based Billing: A Glossary
  3. CRTC Approved UBB is the post covering CRTC approval, with the caveat that Bell could not implement UBB so long as their ISP has customers with unlimited accounts.
  4. CRTC Renegs – UBB is Coming Soon
  5. But the post that got a record number of hits in one day (4,007) was Overturn the CRTC Ruling

I’ve indexed all the posts in the left sidebar, to make it easier to use as a reference. I hope to combine the original glossary with an updated one on the menu bar as time permits.

what to do?

The most effective thing we can do is to tell people. The biggest problem is that most Canadians won’t know until they get the bills. The next thing is to write letters to our MPs, as well as the appropriate ministers and the Prime Minister. Paper letters are taken more seriously than email letters. But the simplest thing to do right now is to sign an online petition.

I have consistently suggested that people sign the online petition, and I will continue to do so. Whether or not it is ever presented to parliament, it is an excellent indicator of the growing public awareness of CRTC culpability in the UBB issue. Members of the Canadian tech community followed CRTC protocol to tell the CRTC what a bad idea UBB was, and submitted thousands of protests against it UBB when CRTC was first considering it. Yet when CRTC handed down their initial decision on UBB, they made but a cursory reference to this opposition, essentially dismissing it unheard. The only thing the CRTC listens to is the big telecommunication companies. The CRTC considers them the only stakeholders.

Since the CRTC is supposed to regulate to protect consumers, the fact that they don’t listen to consumers indicates very clearly to me that the CRTC is not doing it’s job. There are other issues as well, like the fact that the CRTC doesn’t seem to understand the technology of the Internet. Or competition. Or economics. I am not a tech person, but a little research has allowed me to learn enough to know that the CRTC is not regulating for the good of Canada or Canadians, but purely for the benefit of the phone and cable carriers. The CRTC’s malfeasance has allowed these carriers to unfairly dominate the market and consistently gouge consumers. Which is the opposite of the CRTC mandate. Which is why we need change. The digital economy is too important for all of us to allow this sad state of affairs to continue.

The existing CRTC needs to be dissolved. At the very least we need to change how this Canadian regulator works. The best first step would be a prohibition against any one with any ties to the Bell Canada or the other carriers. So I think that the CRTC needs dissolving.

The petition is also a good indicator of the growing awareness about the issue. Since the number of signatures surpassed the nearly five thousand original CRTC complaints it tells me that it isn’t just the tech people who are finding out about Usage Based Billing. Ordinary Internet users are learning about it too. And we all realize that the CRTC is not serving Canadians. I tend to think that the government is keeping an eye on those numbers too.

So sign the petition and encourage others to find out about UBB and sign as well. Because it will be much easier to stop UBB before it starts than after it is implemented. If I’ve learned anything from the GST it’s that.

Another online resource is the new OpenMedia which is hosting an online petition to Stop The Meter On Your Internet Use.

You can sign their petition on Facebook

or on Twitter.


If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11388 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.

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email:

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email:

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing


3 Responses to “Getting Up To Speed on UBB”

  1. Doug Owen said

    I have talked to the office of my MPP and they were not aware of the UBB ruling (and that is all it is, a ruling). I mentioned to them that I would be making a facebook page concerning this issue and was told that it was a good idea. Here is the link:

    Face book UBB link

    If you are against UBB then visit that page and hit “LIKE”. The more members we have of that page the better.

    For a little more information:

    My ISP is Primus, whom I have been with for over 6 years. When they told me about UBB I started to ask around to other ISP’s. All of the ones that are not implementing UBB ahead of time (like Primus is) have mentioned that a lot of customers are moving over to them from Primus. It appears that in order to protest the UBB people are just moving ISPs to get away from it.

    At this time only Primus has removed their unlimited DSL usage and adopted the UBB. Remember, it is not implemented at this time so they are doing it at least one month in advance! They are now doing the money grab for they realize they will be loosing customers to Cable ISP’s that offer higher caps and faster speeds for the same money.

    With UBB, my bill with Primus would be approximately $68/m as opposed to the amount that I pay now, which is $32/m. For that price I can go to cable, get speeds of 15 Mb/s and have a cap of 200 Gig/m, why would I stay with 5 MB/s?

    Join the Facebook page and we will let our MP’s know that their employers (because we HIRE them to do the job through elections) want them to stop UBB and make Bell AND Rogers tear down the wall they are erecting.


    • Yes, it is a ruling, but it is one that the ISPs need abide by if it is allowed to stand. That’s very important.

      Yes, Primus has jumped the gun which is an incredible thing for them to do, and may in fact be a strategic move — perhaps the best way to wake up the sleeping Canadian public. Most Canadians are still unaware of the UBB issue precisely because it is not implemented. The media coverage is still close to non-existent.

      The ONLY ISP switching I recommend right now is switching away from Bell. Unless you are a privileged Bell unlimited account holder, you may want to switch to any of the Independent ISPs, or even Rogers if you have to. Remember too you can switch all the other Bell accounts you have as well: phone, satellite tv etc. (What I save by switching my phone from Bell to an Indie will offset the UBB charges).

      Probably the prime objective of UBB is to kill off the Independent ISPs; if we start switching between or away from the Indies, they will be destabilized and go out of business, eliminating any hope of meaningful competition in the Canadian ISP market. Good luck.

  2. RobertX said

    Here’s your chance to write to the CRTC about this UBB bullshit.

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