interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

UBB #1 Archive

About UBB and Me

My first blog post on the topic of Usage Based Billing appeared on my regular wordpress blog  in the wind.

However, the Usage Based Billing problem is such a big issue I thought it needed it’s own location.

Aside from occasional posts covering new material on this issue, I will continue to add any links to Usage Based Billing material I come across online.

The more we know about Usage Based Billing the better we can fight it.

About Laurel L. Russwurm

…daughter… sister …aunt… cousin …wife… mother …writer…

… it is always possible to change the world …
even if the only thing you can change is yourself.

I’ve been a writer all my life, but for the last few years I’ve been on a child rearing hiatus.

Although I’ve done my share of Googling and emailing over the years, recently I started getting more involved in the internet world.

It all began with a mother’s day gift of a Domain Name and a copy of HTML Dog.  Since then I’ve been learning XHTML, creating websites, using flickr, adding to wikipedia, joining facebook and making blogs.  One of the coolest things about the internet is the ease of communication, and the ease with which it allows us to share things like family photos no matter how far flung the family is.

My “Mom” background includes a combination of school volunteering and fundraising as well as PTA involvement for more than a decade.  The changes in technology have caused dramatic changes within the schools.  Increasing amounts of school work are done on or through computers and the internet.  Schools are online.  Increasingly student assignments are online.  Yet  not every Canadian  school child’s home contains an internet connected computer even now.    This price gouging will certainly make things infinitely worse for those kids.

So you can see I have very deep concerns about the Usage Based Pricing Issue in regard to both these areas of my life.

Extortionate pricing will certainly reduce internet access and change Canadian internet behaviour, not only for me and mine but for the wider community of Canadians.  It will certainly impact negatively on the Canadian Economy.  In fact one of the articles I’ve linked to in the sidebar tells the cautionary tale of an American tourist whose vacation was marred by a hit of  $11,000 worth of technology charges he wasn’t expecting when he got home.  This was because his internet connectivity had to be routed through Canadian ISPs when he stayed connected on Canadian soil.   Right there is a tangible example of ill advised CRTC policy doing untold damage to our tourism industry.

And make no mistake, this is entirely about extortionate pricing.  Bell Canada is not increasing or improving service in any way shape or form.   One of the most heinous things this will do is increase the gap between the haves and the have nots purely for the sake of Bell Canada’s corporate greed.  As much as I dislike Bell Canada for asking for this, they are a soulless corporation and they will of course get whatever they can get away with.  Their allegiance is to their shareholders.

Vastly more frightening is that the knowledge that the CRTC would actually give this to them.  The very precedent they are setting of allowing Bell Canada to begin billing customers of other companies just boggles my mind.

The CRTC is supposed to owe its allegiance to the citizens of Canada.  As a Canadian citizen, I can see no point in the continued existence of the CRTC if they ignore their mandate to regulate for the good of Canada.

So my concerns with this issue are a combination personal issues and community ones.

You can send me email at laurel.l@russwurm.org

To the extent possible under law, Laurel L. Russwurm
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Stop Usage Based Billing.
CC0

This work is published from Canada.

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15 Responses to “UBB #1 Archive”

  1. […] About UBB and Me […]

  2. lol said

    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!

    • 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”.

  3. Welcome to the fight. Stop the Cap! has been fighting against UBB across Canada, the United States, and beyond for more than a year now with nearly 500 articles detailing every aspect of the consumer fraud UBB represents.

    I urge you to consider adopting the consumer-friendly terminology we’ve used to describe all of this in terms ordinary consumers will understand: Internet Overcharging.

    Stop the Cap! defines Internet Overcharging as:

    – Consumption billing (UBB, metered billing, consumption-based tiers, etc.)
    – Arbitrary usage caps (limits on amount of usage)
    – Overlimit fees and penalties (…common when you exceed the cap)
    – … and all of the other tricks of the trade, from throttles to rate hikes.

    It’s also a media-friendly term and helps define the issue as exactly what it is – rape and pillage pricing by undercompeting providers.

    We’ve used Canada’s broadband experience as an example of what is coming in the United States if it isn’t stopped. Stop the Cap! is an all-consumer, all-volunteer effort. We started in July 2008 when Rochester, N.Y., telephone company Frontier Communications proposed a 5GB monthly usage cap on their DSL service. We shamed them out of enforcing it. In April 2009, Rochester (along with several other American cities) were to be subjected to UBB experiments by cable operator Time Warner Cable. We organized an pushback of consumer outrage that culminated in me standing next to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer from New York on Time Warner Cable’s lawn announcing the experiment was shelved indefinitely.

    Unfortunately, since Internet Overcharging schemes are already well rooted in Canadian broadband, getting rid of them is going to be much more difficult, particularly with a shockingly pro-industry CRTC that simply drinks the industry’s Kool Aid. At this point, the Canadian government and elected MPs -MUST- get involved to bypass the CRTC. At the minimum, a purge of the pro-industry (or those who come directly out of the industry to now serve the CRTC) power-brokers on the Commission must be undertaken.

    Canadian broadband, like American broadband, is essentially a duopoly in most markets – Bell and the cable company. The two have informally gotten together and decided that it’s better to sit back and let the money roll-in instead of investing some of the fat profits they earn from broadband into expanding their networks. They are attempting to leverage the “vast distances” and “smaller population” arguments to justify Overcharging schemes across Canada and the CRTC is just drinking it up.

    Australia is a country that knows about “vast distances” and population centers separated by vast distances of open space. Broadband down under is so expensive and capped, it’s ultimately not worth it to a lot of Aussies. So the government is embarking on its own national broadband plan, to provide the service private providers refuse to offer and be done with the onerous UBB billing.

    Canada may be ready for the discussion of the implications of a publicly funded national fiber optic network reaching consumers at their homes, on which private providers can purchase access at wholesale rates and provide their service on one fiber cable. Expensive? Yes, but just as the public highway system had to be built with taxpayer funds because private industry would not have the resources, capacity, or profit motive to do it themselves, the digital public highway that can reach a large segment of Canada will likely have to come about the same way. For rural Canadians, a mixture of next generation DSL from Bell and WiMax-type wireless service may represent the best alternatives until fiber is cheap enough to provide to everyone.

    Do not be discouraged by some of the comments on DSL Reports. Karl Bode is a good ally in the fight, but there are a lot of conservative “free market” types on that site’s comment section that routinely take a position that is completely opposite their own best interests as consumers. Additionally, as we’ve repeatedly shown, astroturfers pretending to represent consumer interests, but actually paid by big telecom, are also infesting the debate with a lot of rhetoric about “you don’t understand the business” and a whole lot of other nonsense. Feel free to learn from us on how to defeat the sock puppets.

    Your cause is just and pro-consumer. We would welcome any cooperative ventures between us. United consumers across North America will win more battles together, even against well-financed special interests.

    My best wishes.

    Phillip Dampier
    Editor, Stop the Cap!
    http://stopthecap.com

    • Laurel L. Russwurm said

      Thanks for your kind words Phillip.

      I’ve only been fighting this fight for a couple of months. (I’ve only known about this for a couple of months…)

      One of the things that is so frustrating is that the reason we are in this mess is that a past government did in fact step in and order our big 3 ISPs to make wholesale Internet Service available to Independent ISPs. If they hadn’t forced Bell Canada to make the taxpayer subsidized wire available, Bell Canada certainly wouldn’t have done it, so we’d all be muddling along with either Bell or Rogers.

      We wouldn’t know what a world with choice was like.

      But now we DO know. Many Canadian consumers are not willing to let them re-monopolize without a fight. I don’t know about any of the others trying to fight this, but my reason to fight this as hard as I can is my kid’s future. I don’t want him to have to move to a different country in order to make a living. That’s just not on.

      I am not aware of any success stories on the cable side, but on the phone based dsl side we have seen some great companies being established. They’ve worked really hard and done a good job, which I guess wasn’t supposed to happen. I think Bell Canada was charging them such ridiculous rates they expected them to go bust immediately. And now Bell Canada feels threatened (as they should) because the Independent ISPs have run their businesses well. Made Bell Canada look bad. Bell Canada might have to actually compete. Instead Bell Canada intends to get their buddies at CRTC to regulate the competition out of business.

      Our Indie ISPs came into being because our government thought Canadians should have a choice. Canadians needed encouragement to get online. Yet now when the Independent companies have gotten established, and possibly even arrived at a point where they might have been able to start building their own infrastructure, they are being forced to spend their all fighting stupid legal battles simply to try to continue to exist. All because they did a good job.

      If Usage Based Billing is actually implemented and does succeed in regulating the Canadian Independent ISPs out of business, I have a hard time believing that we will ever get a shot at a competitive market ever again. After the blood, sweat and investment that our Independent ISPs have poured into building their businesses, having the government change the rules on them to this extent is ludicrous.

      If I ran a business I certainly wouldn’t want to set up shop where the Canadian Government might change the rules on me like this.

      Canada’s biggest problem is the silence of the media. That’s a big reason why I keep boosting http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

      Even if it doesn’t convince our government to actually dissolve the CRTC, it will send them the clear message that we expect change. Canadians by and large won’t even know about Usage Based Billing until it is in place. And you know what? I think Canadians are going to be mad.

      I’ve got a problem with UBB and I’m doing what I think needs to be done. Quite frankly I don’t have time to worry about anyone’s negativity on dsl reports or anywhere else. If I get anything wrong I’m open to correction, that’s the best I can do.

      So thanks again for the words of support, and if you want to lend us a hand it would really help to mention http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

      regards,
      laurel

      • The biggest catfight on the cable side in Shaw doing hand to hand combat with Novus in Vancouver multi-dwelling-units. Shaw lowered prices to a ludicrous $9.95 a month for cable, $9.95 for broadband, and $9.95 for telephone in buildings where Novus competes. It still leaves in place the cap nonsense, but at those prices, it’s almost a non-issue.

        Be very happy Canadian providers have limited the overcharging Money Party to $20-25 a month in overlimit penalties. Time Warner Cable set the penalty limit at $100 (and originally had none). My personal guess is you’ll see that cap on overlimit penalties start to slip and then disappear if we cannot repeal these overcharging schemes in Canada. As we’ve said, it’s a limbo dance with ever lowering caps (Bell pulled this a few months ago) and ever increasing pricing.

        The CRTC’s bizarre lovefest for big telecom flies in opposition to its careful regulation of Canadian broadcasting, which is why it’s such a shock to me to watch them act more like an industry trade group than a regulatory body. This swamp does have to be drained. I don’t believe as much in online petitions because elected officials don’t give them much attention (but the media does, so it is a useful tool). You need a direct appeal to MPs and Canadian party leaders to make addressing these issues part of their party platform. The CRTC is the George W. Bush of telecom regulation — they are not listening. So you have to bypass them and go right to the lawmakers and let them know in no uncertain terms your vote depends on their solution to this mess. We expose politicians on the take on Stop the Cap! and one just resigned under an ethics cloud in North Carolina for funny business with his campaign contributions.

        Having no industry ties, just consumers coming together, gives us some credibility in the fight even when we don’t have the financial resources to go toe to toe. Don’t be discouraged by sock puppets that will invade and try and get you to question your beliefs or make you think you don’t understand an issue. As a consumer and customer, you don’t have to understand anything beyond not wanting to overpay for your broadband service. 🙂

        I will be adding to our link list. Feel free to repurpose/link to any content on our site you find useful. We have no problem with other groups using our information to help the cause, and we would be happy to publish anything you need to get out there. We have a bunch of Canadian readers as our site doesn’t have just a domestic focus.

      • RobertX said

        So Phil and Laurel…

        Is the battle far from over?

  4. Laurel L. Russwurm said

    It’s not a problem Robert. Any publicity is good publicity. And besides, you’ve given me my Wednesday UBB topic 😉

  5. RobertX said

    Here’s another thing I want to ask: have you been to http://www.dslreports.com? It’s a forum I go to since the recent UBB ruling. I want to show your site to them – would you mind?

    • RobertX said

      Oops, my bad. The URL is http://www.dslreports.com

      • Laurel L. Russwurm said

        Thanks Robert. Please feel free to mention my blogs anywhere you like. Any publicity is good publicity, and anything you can do to help spread the word is really important since the news media is not.

        I have been to dsl reports a few times, but its quite a lot more technical than my blog. I know that there were a couple of mentions of dsl reports. What I’m trying to do is to make this very technical stuff understandable for ordinary people. I think that Bell Canada and the CRTC throught that nobody would notice. And they are still hoping nobody will notice until after it is done. The more people know about it and speak about it, the less chance they will go through with it.

        And obviously I think this is horrendously important, because if UBB is implemented it will put Canada in the dark ages. I guess I’m also trying to think of ways to make the government listen as well. I’m trying to encourage people to actually do whatever they can do to help fight it.

        So please, tell anyone you like. The more people who know and understand that UBB is a very bad thing, the better.

        regards,
        laurel

  6. RobertX said

    Thank you, Laurel.

  7. RobertX said

    I agree with everything you said so far, but I have one question: how do we handle Internet piracy?

    • Laurel L. Russwurm said

      I guess that depends on what you mean by “piracy”. If you’re talking about “bootlegging” music and movies, which involves illegally reproducing these works in order to selling them for profit, we have laws which cover that. My father is a record dealer, and I know one record show at which he was a vendor was raided by the RCMP. At least one bootleg music stall was shut down, the vendor arrested and the bootleg material confiscated. Bootlegging is illegal.

      If on the other hand you’re talking about copying music for personal use, then like many other people I don’t think that’s wrong. There is a growing political movement called The Pirate Party which started in Sweden and had actually gotten a “Pirate Party” representative elected in the European government. They have inspired the formation of Pirate Parties elsewhere in the world. The Canadian version is currently attempting to register enough members to achieve official party standing.

      Right now the Canadian government is holding a copyright consultation to determine how best to update Canadian copyright law and determine what should and should not be legal here. They have asked the public to submit our opinions on how copyright law should best be updated. The fact is that in the 80’s Canadian cable television service providers openly advocated “time shifting” (aka recording the movies they were showing for our own personal use). I heard not a peep of dissent from the content industry at the time. Also Canadians pay a government mandated levy on all blank CDs which is supposed to be distributed to recording artists. This levy tacitly permits Canadians to copy music for personal use. At the same time, the content industry is now attempting to criminalize personal use copying.

      Unless Canadian law explicitly states otherwise, I believe that personal use copying is not and should not be illegal for Canadians, and therefore is not “piracy”.

      I believe bootlegging music and movies for commercial gain is wrong, and so I have never knowingly purchased bootleg material. My thinking on this is that the bootleg industry does in fact hurt the copyright holders, while personal use copying helps them by disseminating their works in the same way free television and radio do.

      If the copyright laws in Canada and around the world would clarify this, it would certainly make it easier for the authorities to prosecute the real offenders. As it is, so long as citizens are afraid that the legal system will criminalize them for personal use copying, they are unlikely to report commercial infringements.

      If you’re interested, I’ve posted my submission to the copyright consultation on my personal blog http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/

      • RobertX said

        Laurel,

        I believe I owe you an apology. One of your stances were met with ridicule in the DSLReports forum.

        Namely, one of those guys made fun of your Wikipedia argument. They “chuckled.” They also said that you were not “knowledgeable.”

        I didn’t think something like this was actually going to happen, but I should have seen it coming.

        I am sorry.

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