interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘ars technica’

crtc speed matching saga

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 31, 2010

CRTC

Monday’s CRTC release: CRTC encourages competition and investment in the provision of Internet services

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today determined, on the basis of the evidence submitted at a recent public hearing, that large telephone companies must make their existing Internet access services available to alternate Internet service providers (ISPs) at speeds that match those offered to their own retail customers. This requirement will ensure that alternate ISPs can continue to give Canadians more choice by offering competing and innovative Internet services.

This CRTC decision seems eminently reasonable; the carriers must make the bandwidth speeds available to their own retail customers available to the customers of Independent Service Providers. This is a real win for Canadian consumers.

The thing is, this decision was already made. Wading through the CRTC release we learn this CRTC ruling was already made as “various decisions issued in 2006 and 2007”.

Vertical Canadian Flag

Why did it take the CRTC four years to make it stick?

Apparently the Federal Cabinet stepped in on behalf of the carriers (Bell et al) and ordered the CRTC to revisit the issue. They were told to ensure speed-matching requirements:

  • wouldn’t unduly diminish incentives to invest in new network infrastructure in general and, in particular, in markets of different sizes;
  • without speed-matching requirements would there be sufficient competition to protect the interests of users;
  • are the wholesale obligations imposed on incumbent telephone and cable companies equitable or a competitive disadvantage; and
  • will these wholesale requirements unduly impair the ability of incumbent telephone companies to offer new converged services, such as Internet Protocol television?

In other words, Federal Government interference resulted in four years where the carriers were allowed to discriminate against the Independent ISPs by denying them access to the best speeds. The retail customers of the Independent ISPs could not get the bandwidth speeds that the retail customers of the carrier ISPs could get.

Hardly sounds fair to Canadian consumers.

Surprise surprise.

reactions to the crtc ruling

TEKsavvy Solutions Inc. logo“The Commission’s refusal to mandate the provision of new central office-based telephone company and local head-end-based cable company wholesale services severely limits other competitors’ ability to provide new differentiated service offerings. To that extent the CRTC’s approach will entrench the duopolistic nature of the communications wireline services industry in many important markets and stifle the ability of competitors to provide new and innovative services. In this environment, it will be very difficult for competitors to attract the capital necessary to innovate, grow and contribute to the greatest extent possible to the competitive landscape and increase consumer choice. Canada’s productivity and international competitiveness will remain sub-standard at a critical time in the country’s economic development and the longerterm prospect for competition in the communications sector is very uncertain” added Marc Gaudrault, TSI’s Chief technology Officer.”

TekSavvy Solutions Inc. Reaction to Landmark CRTC Decision: Competitors Allowed to Exist but Denied the Means to Innovate

“By mandating that consumers are able to obtain services from competitors at the same speeds that they can obtain services from the telephone and cable companies, the CRTC has handed a victory to Canadian businesses and consumers” said Bill Sandiford, Telnet’s President and CTO. “The Commission has ensured that end-users of these services will continue to be able use their provider of choice without being subjected to slower speeds by doing so.”

In the same ruling, the Commission denied the implementation of CO-based ADSL services, and refused to force the large telephone and cable companies to further unbundle their networks.

Sandiford added, “It is unfortunate that the Commission has failed to allow competitors the ability to innovate and compete with the telephone companies on a deeper level. We agree with the dissent of Commissioner Timothy Denton on this matter.”
Telnet Communications Pleased by Reprieve on Internet Speed Matching but very Concerned about Longer-Term Prospects for Competition following Landmark CRTC Decision

I can certainly understand the mixed reaction of the Independent ISPs.

The CRTC and the Federal Government seek to safeguard fairness for the carriers but have no qualms about imposition of a competitive disadvantage to the Independent ISPs.

The Federal Government was concerned that fairness to consumers might “diminish incentives to invest in new network infrastructure”?

These are two separate issues.

It should have been in the carrier’s interest to maintain and keep the infrastructure current. That would benefit customer and carrier alike.

Perhaps the problem arises because the carriers are too busy doing other things instead of re-investing in infrastructure.

Like for instance in 2005 Bell Canada launches downloadable music service.

Bell VIDEO Store

Or Bell’s own unthrottled downloadable video store in 2008 — just at the time it became known they were throttling other Internet traffic as reported in:

Canadian Internet customers have certainly been paying enough to pay to keep the Infrastructure current.

Whatever the reason, study after study (at least in those studies not paid for by Bell) have indicated emphatically that the Canadian Internet infrastructure is falling more and more behind:

Montreal Gazette: Canada’s Internet slow and expensive: Harvard.

Ultimately it is always the Canadian consumer that takes the hit.

The decision reaffirms a December 2008 CRTC ruling, which was remanded for reconsideration a year later by Industry Minister Tony Clement. The government acceded to lobbying from the big phone companies and ordered the CRTC to review its decision on the grounds that it had failed to consider a number of issues:

* How the matching speeds would diminish the phone companies’ incentives to invest in new infrastructure.
* Whether there is sufficient competition to protect consumers without the requirement of matching speeds.
* Whether the regulatory requirements on phone and cable companies are equal.
* How the matching-speeds requirement would affect phone companies’ abilities to offer services such as television over an internet connection.”

—CBC: Small internet providers get higher speeds: CRTC

the crtc says:

“Access to broadband Internet services is a key foundation for the digital economy,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “The large telephone and cable companies are bringing their fibre networks closer to Canadian homes and businesses, which allows for faster Internet connections. Requiring these companies to provide access to their networks will lead to more opportunities for competition in retail Internet services and better serve consumers.”

So finally, four years later, Canadians will get speed matching matching. But oh!  For a 10% increase?

The large telephone companies have been investing in upgrades and expanding their networks. In recognition of these investments, the CRTC will allow them to charge competitors an additional 10-per-cent mark-up over their costs for the use of their wholesale Internet services’ higher-speed options.

Pardon? Isn’t that part of doing business? The large ISPs are already billing more than enough to pay for infrastructure improvements. Isn’t this why Canadian Internet rates are among the highest in the world?

Wires at Bell Mobility

As a side note, a Globe and Mail story about WindMobile’s adventures in Canada ought to be a wake up call. For all the vaunted CRTC insistance of ‘fairness’ we are seeing:

In Canada, the regulatory system and the established providers are not making Orascom’s venture an easy task: Both Rogers and Bell have lowered prices and launched new unlimited services only in the markets where Wind operates. But Mr. Sawiris, though annoyed, is not easily daunted.

Canada is a telecom backwater, says bold backer of Wind Mobile

How can the CRTC allow Rogers and Bell to lower prices only in specific markets?

If the price is lower in one place, it is discriminatory not to offer the same prices across Canada.

The CRTC protects consumers how…?



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10950 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.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No PDF Files Please

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 21, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

TECHNOLOGY ISSUE

It is a fallacy that PDF files maintain the integrity of the information.

The idea behind PDFs was that they would freeze your digital document so that it can’t be tampered with.
Correction of Fact: I’ve learned from a comment below that PDFs were actually not intended to be secure. (Thanks D.A.) And that they could just as easily be created in landscape mode. They were intended to preserve the formatting for printing. My problem is that very often information being given in PDFs is NOT stuff that needs to be printed… and in fact does NOT need to be printed.

That’s simply not true.

Except from almost the first moment PDFs appeared in the world, people figured out how to deconstruct them so that they COULD tamper with them.

After all, forgery has existed for as long as we’ve had documents. But the idea that PDFs are secure has taken hold. But it is not true.

Worse, PDFs are a pain to use. For a long time I thought that PDFs were proprietary software because you need a special reader to read them. I have this idea that the only person who determines what can be on my computer is me. Because it’s my computer. If you want me to have specific software on my computer, you can buy me a computer, and I’ll put the software you want on it. But as long as I pay for my computer I own it.

Yet government offices lock information I want or need — information that I am entitled to — into PDF files. And school boards. Even my bank wants to replace statements with PDFs. Well. No.

Because even though I know there is software to take PDFs apart I don’t have it because I am not planning on forging anything. I’m looking to get information. But before I can get it, I have to install a PDF reader on my computer.

Even so, PDFs are miserable to read on a computer screen, because computer screens are in Landscape mode while PDFs are locked in Portrait mode. Hello. PDFs are designed to be read on paper. The format does not translate well to computer screens which are currently more and more commonly in wide screen landscape format.

If you read it on your screen you can’t just scroll through the document. You scroll down the first page. But before you can go to the second page you have to scroll back to the top to be able to click the arrow. The only civilized way to read a PDF is if you print it out. Not exactly a good paperless solution, eh?

PDFs were designed by Adobe, and the idea was supposed to be that you had to get an Adobe Reader in order to read them. That’s what made them proprietary. Eventually Adobe made PDFs partially open source, which means that programs like Open Office can now create PDF documents. And you can use other readers to read PDFs. That’s what I do when I am forced to open one.

But PDF files are nowhere near universally accessible because it is necessary to have a PDF Reader to read them. That is a huge barrier to accessibility. It doesn’t have to be an Adobe Reader, but only the Adobe Reader accesses an Adobe PDF perfectly. Recently I was given a colour PDF, but because I don’t use the Adobe reader, it will only print for me in black and white.

So just as an ordinary person who uses a computer, I hate it when information I need is locked up in a PDF.

security

But recently I’ve learned that PDFs aren’t just awkward and difficult to use they are insecure.

Putting information in PDFs does not make the information secure. PDF Files and Adobe Readers are actually dangerous to our computers.

I will not have an Adobe Reader on my computer because of the security problems inherent in the Adobe Reader. Adobe itself tells us that:

“a critical vulnerability (CVE-2010-0188) has been identified that could cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system”
http://www.adobe.com/support/security/bulletins/apsb10-07.html

There are always new warnings because the Adobe Reader is insecure.

Adobe: Security Updates available for Adobe Reader and Acrobat versions 9 and earlier

And there are others who advise against PDFs…

ars technica: Flash security vulnerability exploited in PDFs

ZD Net: Adobe warns of Flash, PDF zero-day attacks

engadget: Adobe’s Flash and Acrobat have ‘critical’ vulnerability, may allow remote hijacking

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team: Adobe Reader and Acrobat customDictionaryOpen() and getAnnots() JavaScript vulnerabilities

So please, don’t give me a PDF.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10796 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 both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »