Getting Up To Speed on UBB
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 3, 2010
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.
I recommend starting with:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- CRTC Renegs – UBB is Coming Soon
- 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.