interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

There are no bandwidth hogs

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 16, 2011

[note: I’m supposed to be offline getting my novel ready for publication, but I had to respond to this recurring red herring that came up again in UBB Questions.]No Usage Based Billing

There has been an ongoing effort made to convince consumers that bandwidth consumption is expensive.

It shouldn’t be.

The story goes that your neighbor’s high bandwidth use somehow comes out of your pocket.   To support this, they often cite the example of a buffet restaurant.  

The fact is that bandwidth consumption does not impact on actual cost. Whether you use 1GB of bandwidth or 300GB of bandwidth the real costs are the same.

That’s why Bell and Rogers entered the Internet market offering unlimited bandwidth. The only REAL cost of the Internet is infrastructure.

Once in place bandwidth consumption costs virtually nothing. (maintenance, electricity) If Bell is having problems in bandwidth provision, it would be because they have been taking record profits without bothering to reinvest in infrastructure. Canada used to be an Internet leader but isn’t any longer, because Bell has not upgraded.

The only “hogs” are the corporations who are already charging Canadian extortionate prices for something that costs them next to nothing.

Think about it: are you using the same computer you had ten years ago? Fifteen years ago? Even if you are, you will have upgraded parts of it.

Yet Bell has not upgraded their infrastructure in even longer.

Which is why the top speeds Bell can offer customers is in the tens of Megabytes per second (Mbps), while Internet users in other parts of the world routinely get speeds measured in the hundreds of Mbps.

So, while Canadians who use the Internet services we pay for are characterized as “hogs”, and throttled if we use the Internet service we pay for at peak times, the speeds we pay for are rarely (if ever) what we get, and the costs have been going up to where we are now.

[note: Bell’s definition of non-peak time is when most Canadians are either (a) sleeping or (b) at work]

Before UBB is is even implemented Canadians pay top rates for mediocre Internet access. The excessive rates Canadians already pay would have more than underwritten Internet infrastructure upgrades. But so long as the CRTC will grant Bell their every wish on the backs of consumers and the Canadian economy, Bell doesn’t have to upgrade.

This is why Canada’s Internet service is in freefall. Even though upgrading the Canadian infrastructure to provide such vast improvements in service and catch us up to the rest of the world, it would cost much less now than it did then. Remember when a new state of the art home computer system used to cost around $3,000 ? Today it’s more like $500.

That the CRTC believes that there is a “the potential negative outcome of high-consuming bandwidth end-users” is indicative of their incomprehension of the Internet.

The CRTC is simply not doing it’s job.

PIAC’s report principally recommends that “policy makers and the regulator stop trying to make decisions based on untested economic theories and make sure that markets actually work for consumers”. ‘

Tele-management: Unproven economic models hurting Canadian consumers

You can download a PDF of PIAC’s full report here. (Note to PIAC: it would be far more accessible if it were made available in an Internet friendly format, like say, HTML.)

The CRTC’s UBB ruling isn’t simply a mistake, it’s an indication of CRTC disfunction. If implemented, UBB will do active damage to Canada’s ability to compete in the global digital economy. That’s bad.

We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11674 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

8 Responses to “There are no bandwidth hogs”

  1. […] Paul’s Comment on “There are no bandwidth hogs” […]

  2. […] There are no bandwidth hogs There has been an ongoing effort made to convince consumers that bandwidth consumption is expensive. […]

  3. RobertX said


    Can I share this piece elsewhere? I’ll do it once you approve.

    • All the text of this blog is released into the Public Domain under a CC0 license, which means anyone can use it anywhere, any time for anything, with or without my approval.

      It doesn’t even require attribution. The only restriction is that it can’t be mis-attributed (that is to say, someone else can’t take credit for it).

  4. […] There are no bandwidth hogs « Stop Usage Based Billing […]

  5. Paul said

    Hi Laurel,

    The statement that Bell has not upgraded their infrastructure is a powerful argument against the need for UBB. Could you please advise where you found this information so I can reference it in my own discussions? Thanks.

    • Patrick Louch said

      I would also like to see that information.

      • The short answer is that you can’t prove a negative. What you can do is look at the fact that although Canadians have been paying premium rates for quite some time, Bell’s service on offer hasn’t improved appreciably. And of course Bell has enough petty cash to buy CTV.

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