interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘bandwidth’

Has Bell Upgraded Internet Infrastructure?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 17, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

Paul asked in a comment:

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.

Paul’s Comment on “There are no bandwidth hogs”

My only connection with any Canadian ISP is as a customer. I don’t have access to data, financial reports etc.

So I am looking at this issue clearly from the outside. And this is what I see.

When the Internet was first made available to the public, Canada quickly became a world leader. When Bell and Rogers entered the High Speed Internet market, they offered Canadians top speeds, and low prices for unlimited access. (They did such a good job that they killed off all the competition.)

Cheap and fast access is why Canadians so whole heartedly became early Internet adopters.   And that’s why Canadians are currently some of the most Internet savvy and Internet connected people in the world.

Even though the costs consumers pay have gone up and up and up.
It is not cheap anymore. In fact, we are paying some of the highest rates in the world before implementation of UBB.

What happened? Why does Canada lag behind on every study?
(I discount so-called “studies” paid for by the Internet carriers; those are advertising.)

If you like graphs, this website Website Optimization: November 2007 Bandwidth Report shows where we were in 2007.  (If you dig farther into the archives of this site you’ll likely find indications of the time when Canada was a leader), the figures here were not only borne out, but noticeably worse for Harvard’s 2009 study.

Or Oxford.

And here’s an article explaining the numbers, 10 Gigabytes Per Month! (one of the things I have trouble with)

The absolute best speed available to Bell Internet consumers are — for a premium — Upload speed: up to 7 Mbps.

No speed is guaranteed, everything is: “Up to.”

One of my main reasons for putting my oar in on this subject is because I’m a parent. That’s why one of the saddest things I’ve read on this subject is this highly personal account of Canadian access woes dating back to 2009.

If I do a Google Search for:

bell canada upgrade infrastructure -site:bell.ca

or

and a Google News search: bell canada upgrade infrastructure -site:bell.ca

The only things that come close are upgrades to their cell phone systems (HSPA). But for the Internet the single Bell upgrade is their DSLAMs, which provide only a tiny boost in service. As I understand it, this is not considered “part of the back-haul infrastructure.” These DSLAMs were deployed in limited locations, and Bell fought to be able to deny Independent ISPs any access to the increased speeds. Ultimately the CRTC forced Bell to share the speeds with the Independent ISPs.

Of course, that CRTC ruling won’t matter to Bell anymore if the Independent ISPs are forced out of the market by UBB.

Beyond the fact Bell is offering essentially the same bandwidth speeds as they were when they rolled out broadband service, it certainly doesn’t look like there has been any infrastructure improvement.    If there had been can’t imagine why Bell would not be trumpeting it.

Bell’s best (per Bell website): up to 7 mbps
Japan’s best (per New York Times 2009): 160 mbps

Bell’s dual strategies have been to technically throttle customers, and now to introduce “economic traffic management.”

Both of these policies are designed to force consumers into less Internet access while still keeping Bell highly profitable.

If Bell actually improved the service they offered, they wouldn’t need to apply for permission to charge UBB. The traditional way for a corporation to justify increased rates has long been to provide added value. It seems that is no longer necessary in Canada.

Obviously Bell has made out very well indeed thanks to CRTC rulings.   Recession or no, they seem to  have  enough disposable income to now buy the entire CTV Television Network.

So I’m not aware of any large-scale back-haul infrastructure upgrades performed by Bell. And you can’t prove a negative.

We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11684 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



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Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Number Crunching UBB Bandwidth

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 17, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

When the Internet was first opened up to consumers, Canadians we had to pay Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) usage fees in order to connect. We paid by the minute.

Using the internet could be quite expensive that way. So many Canadians did not.

When Bell and Rogers entered the ISP market, they offered Unlimited packages for a flat rate. This was much much more economical for consumers. This is one very important reason why such a high proportion of Canadians went online. Which has unquestionably been very good for Canada’s digital economy.

This caused two huge changes. 

  1. All the Independent ISPs went out of business (or switched to doing something else).
  2. Canadians logged on.   Knowing what the Internet would cost per month made it more accessible.

So what’s the problem?

Once all meaningful competition was gone, even the Canadian Government was able to see that no meaningful competition was a bad deal for consumers.

Now that they shared the market, the phone and cable ISPs rejigged their services, and stopped offering “unlimited” packages. And they introduced “caps.” Prices went from being some of the lowest in the word to being some of the highest. In the few major markets where consumers had the option of choosing between Phone based Internet or Cable based Internet, it seems after a while that the two took turns being the higher priced. Adding insult to injury if you decide to cancel your service you get kit with cancellation fees. My guess is that it averages out over the year.

I don’t know if Bell suspends service when their customers hit their “cap” but I have been told that Rogers does this. By university students.

Being overcharged is bad, but being cut off is unacceptable. Because the Internet is a necessity of life. And I would think that is more true for a University student than anyone else.

Canadian Flag CC-BY lothlaurien.ca

So the Canadian Government mandated competition.

The new Independent ISPs offered unlimited packages. When I switched to TekSavvy I opted to pay a little less for a capped amount of 200GB per month. But my Indie ISP doesn’t cut me off even if I go over a little. They average it over two months, so the next month is likely to be under. I have yet to be hit with an overage charge. So 200GB seems to be a reasonable monthly bandwidth allowance. But that is much higher than the caps Bell is imposing.

One of the biggest problems with the introduction of this type of Usage Based Billing is that consumers can’t see it or measure it ourselves. We don’t understand it. Back when Canadians rejected Minute based UBB at least we understood how much a minute was, so we could understand how much we were being charged.

This is why the knee jerk response– particularly after getting clobbered by an overage bill or two– will be for Canadians to severely curtail our online activity.

Doing the Math

I’m not a math person, but even I can understand this:

“Bell offers 25 Mbps (million bits per second) download speeds, with a 75 GByte cap. 75 GBytes is 600,000 Mbits,

so at 25 Mbps it takes only 6 hours and 40 minutes to use up all your bandwidth for the month…”

Bob Jonkman,
Comment on: Why Do Bell and Rogers Have Customers?

Stop Usage Based Billing



 

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11320 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: Clement1@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: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Do Bell and Rogers Have Customers?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 10, 2010

No Usage Based BillingUnlike many Canadians, I am fortunate to live in an area where there is Internet competition.   The title question is something I’ve often wondered.

My family switched our Internet account to the Independent Internet Service Provider Tek Savvy a long time ago, and we have never for a minute regretted this.   Since then, we have received lots of junk mail from both Bell and Rogers attempting to get us to switch, but their special offers never seem as good a deal as we get from Tek Savvy.

Tek Savvy

I just paid my monthly flat rate Tek Savvy Invoice:

$29.95 per month before taxes
5 Mbps download speed
200 Gigabyte cap

Tek Savvy averages the 200 Gigabyte cap over 2 months, so if we’re a little over one month it balances out with the next when we’re a little under.   Having never been charged for exceeding the 200 Gigabytes bandwidth I don’t have any idea what going over would cost.

Before doing a comparison, I’d better explain that I had to buy a modem in order to connect to Tek Savvy. If memory serves, it cost in the neighborhood of a couple hundred dollars.

Another interesting note: if we were to decide to change ISPs, Tek Savvy doesn’t charge a penalty.   From what I’ve heard there are very heavy penalties for leaving other Internet service providers…


I took a look at the Internet packages that Bell Canada Offers:

Bell Canada’s Premium Internet Package

Bell Canada’s premium package is Fibe 25, pricing starts at $52.95 per month. For that you get 75GB/month; $1.00/additional GB, (max. $30/mo.), rounded up to the next GB.

Bell’s Fibe 25

  • Speeds of up to 25 Mbps1
  • New, next generation fibre optic network
  • Free wireless home networking and free Wi-Fi at Starbucks – a Bell exclusive
  • Security Advanced service included

But if you look closely you’ll see there are lots of “weasel words” in this advertising copy.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Performance you want

  • Faster download speeds – up to 25 Mbps.1
  • Fastest upload speeds in the market – up to 7 Mbps
  • Internet usage: 75 GB of bandwidth per month

Weasel words like ”up to 25 Mbps”

The speeds offered are ”up to” which means Bell doesn’t actually have to ensure customer speeds of 25Mbps.   If you get speeds of 2 Mbps instead of 25 Mbps Bell does not even have to give you a discount.  

Now, I’m not a tech person, but I have a real hard time understanding why download speeds are up to 25Mbps while upload speeds are at best 7 Mbps.

Funny, there is no ambiguity about the 75 GB of bandwidth per month that you get.   If you go a little over that limit, make no mistake, you will be charged.   The ONLY way this could be at all equitable would be if you are credited for under use, but of course Bell doesn’t offer that.

People who do know how to measure their Mbps speeds seem to think that the speeds Bell customers get are nowhere near the speeds claimed in Bell advertising.

And what about “throttling”? Bell Canada has carte blanch permission to throttle internet traffic.   They are allowed to slow down your transfer speeds.

Even worse, Bell Canada has CRTC permission to slow down my speeds, and I’m not even a Bell Canada Customer.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Wireless, free and exclusive

  • Free wireless home networking for all your home computers
  • An extra wireless N router included at no extra cost so you can connect computers, Wi-Fi devices to the Internet at the fastest speed available
  • Connect wirelessly to share files and printers
  • Free Wi-Fi Internet access at over 650 Starbucks® locations across Canada

They talk about providing a free wireless router.   What if your computers don’t have wireless cards?   Are they outfitting all of that?   From my point of view, I’m looking for an Internet connection.   Whether I tap into the connection with or without wires, I’d think that was my decision.   It sounds as though they are including a wireless router for free.

Meanwhile, they charge you a monthly rental fee for the the modem you need to connect to the Internet.

I wonder why Bell is making such a big deal out of this.   It kind of makes me wonder if they are actually foreshadowing one day soon when they’ll start charging a steep surcharge on wireless access.

Bell’s Fibe 25
Built-in security
Enjoy Security Advanced service which protects up to three computers in your home from viruses and hackers.   Includes anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, fraud protection, disk optimizer, parental controls, 5 GB of Personal Vault storage, pop-up blocker and information protection.

Do I really want Bell Canada to be in control of my internet security?

Bell Canada, this same Internet carrier who applied and received permission from the CRTC to deploy Deep Packet Inspection in order to better discriminate against certain types of Internet Traffic?   As pointed out by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (and ignored by the CRTC) this may in fact be a serious invasion of Canadian privacy.   Depending on how it is configured, and who is running it, DPI allows inspection of your packets– that is to say, whatever you upload or download from the internet.   Including email. Photographs. Home videos. In essence, the CRTC ruling gave Bell Canada legal permission to look into any of our unencrypted internet traffic. Bell Canada promised not to abuse this ability, and that was good enough for the CRTC, who didn’t impose any kind of oversight, so there is no means of policing Bell Canada’s use of DPI.   In essence, the CRTC gave Bell the key to all of our unencrypted private data.   For further information visit the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website hosting A Collection of Essays from Industry Experts on the Privacy aspects of DPI.

Am I really going to compound this by giving Bell control of my computer security too?

I don’t think so.

Maybe you are willing to trust every Bell Canada employee with access to your personal information, but me, I’m careful.   I don’t know their names, and even if did, I haven’t got the time or money to do background checks on them all. And we all know that background checks are fallible too.

You have to actually click on the “Certain Conditions apply” to see that:

Bell Canada’s fine print

  • Only available where technology permits
  • First, you pay a “One time activation fee ($29.95)” (– waived for Bell TV subscribers — isn’t that discriminatory?)
  • Modem rental ($6.95/mo.) extra.
  • $25 fee applies if you downgrade to slower-speed service
  • Additional service fee ($50 plus tax) applies upon early termination.
  • 30-day notice required to cancel service
  • Subject to change without notice and cannot be combined with any other offer.

[1] Speeds on the Internet may vary with your configuration, Internet traffic, server, applicable network management or other factors; see bell.ca/internet.

[2] Additional equipment required, including cables and adapters. (even MORE hidden charges)
[3] Also available to customers where Bell TV service is not available.

Available to new customers and existing Bell Internet dial-up customers who sign up for Bell Fibe 25 Internet on a 1-year contract and at least 1 other select service; see bell.ca/bundle. Monthly rate $67.95 (subject to change), less $10 credit for months 1 to 12 ($5 ongoing as a Bell TV customer), and $5 Bundle discount. Bundle discount may be terminated by Bell upon 30-day notice.

Fibe 25

they get you coming and going

You pay $29.95 to sign up for this high speed package. Then there are modem rental and unspecified equipment/cables/adapters.

But if it isn’t all you were led to believe, and you choose to downgrade to slower-speed service, Bell Canada hits you with another fee, this time $25.

Canceling altogether costs $50 plus tax and it takes them thirty days (on the clock) to do it.

All for connection speeds that are not even guaranteed.

Bell Canada seems to be offering a contract where the customer is locked in, while everything Bell “commits to” is vague, flexible and subject to change without notice.   Doesn’t sound very fair to me.

Rogers

Rogers offers a graduated series of packages, beginning with low transfer speeds and low bandwidth.
The lowest tier is Rogers Ultra-Lite, with 500kbps speed and 2Gigabites bandwidth for $27.99/month.
If you go over your limit, you are charged an additional $5.00/GB

Lite:
3 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 25 Gigabytes bandwidth for $35.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.50/GB

Express:
10 Mbps download, Up to 256Kbps upload speed allows you 60 Gigabytes bandwidth for $46.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

Extreme:
10 Mbps download, Up to 512Kbps upload speed allows you 95 Gigabytes bandwidth for $59.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.50/GB

Extreme Plus:
25 Mbps download, Up to 1Mbps upload speed allows you 125 Gigabytes bandwidth for $69.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $1.25/GB

Ultimate:
50 Mbps download, Up to 2Mbps upload speed allows you 175 Gigabytes bandwidth for $99.99 per month
Additional bandwidth if you exceed your limit is $2.00/GB

Rogers pricing

Rogers Ultimate Fine Print

† Speeds may vary with Internet traffic, server or other factors.   Also see the Acceptable Use Policy at rogers.com/terms.   Modem set-up: the system is configured to maximum modem capabilities within Rogers own network.

†† Usage allowances apply on a monthly basis and vary by tier of service.   Charges apply for additional use beyond the monthly usage allowance associated with your tier of service.   For details, visit rogers.com/keepingpace.

†††Rogers Hi Speed Internet (delivered over cable) and Portable Internet from Rogers currently manages upstream peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications speed to a maximum of 80 kbps per customer. This policy is maintained at all times. For information on Rogers Internet traffic management practices and Legal Disclosure click here.

1 Taxes and a $14.95 one-time activation fee apply, plus $7.00/mth modem rental or $199.95 modem purchase.

** The times specified are approximations and will vary depending on size and quality of content.

***Service only available in some areas in the GTA within Rogers serviceable areas. Digital TV subscription required.

Q: Why do Bell And Rogers Have Customers?

For an internet connection, there are really only two things to consider, the amount you can upload and download and the speed.
So my family gets 200 Gigabytes and 5 Mbps download speed for $29.95/month from Tek Savvy.

Rogers Ultimate offers 175 Gigabytes at 50 Mbps download speed for $99.99/month.

Bell’s Bell’s Fibe 25 offers of 75 Gigabytes at 25 Mbps download speed for $52.95/month

Although both Bell and Rogers claim to offer much higher Internet transfer speeds than I get from Tek Savvy, they are careful to tell you over and over again on their website that they are not actually obligated to deliver these speeds.   They are advertising “up to” speeds.

Since you can’t actually count on getting the advertised speed, really the only thing open for comparison is the allowed download/upload Gigabytes.   From where I sit, Bell and Rogers want to charge me a great deal more than I am paying Tek Savvy for a greatly reduced amount of download/upload Gigabytes.

So I really don’t get it. Why would people pay so much for so little?

The only answer that I can see is that for a great deal of Canada, the only choice available to Canadians is Bell Canada or Rogers.

Thanks to CRTC approval of Usage Based Billing, pretty soon that may be true for all of Canada.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10728 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: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Trollbusters

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 1, 2010

Trolls: Sometimes Trolls are Welcome.  There are many different types of Troll.  This Troll was the hit of a D&D convention.  The one place trolls are never welcome is on the internet.

StopUBB seems to have acquired its own troll.
(Click on the troll to see a larger image.)

Instead of simply leaving my responses to troll-dom buried in the comments, I thought my time would be better spent with an article about Internet Trolls.

No Usage Based Billing

Internet Anonymity

One of the strengths of the Internet is that it usually possible to comment anonymously. The reason that this is a strength is that it allows people to share information — whistle blowing information in particular — with less personal risk. This is good for society.

Another strength of the Internet is that it is largely “self-correcting”. Because commenting is encouraged most places, and an awful lot of information is available for user-editing, when someone gets something on the internet wrong, there is usually someone who will correct them. So if a “whistle blower” turns out to be someone spreading malicious information, they will be outed and discredited very quickly. This is fabulous.

Now, I have never made any secret of the fact that although I deal with a lot of technical things in this blog, I am not a technical person. If I get something wrong, I want to know about it, so that I can correct it. That’s one reason that my name and email address are plastered all over my blogs. It has to do with credibility. If you want to correct me loudly, you can do it in a comment. If you prefer to do it quietly, you can send me email. (Don’t worry, thanks to some really smart tech people I have a very good spam filter.)

The reason I started this blog was to help other non-technical internet users understand the issue of Usage Based Billing. As an ordinary person myself I have to first learn about the issues and processes before I can hope to write about them. I have lately increased the scope of this blog to cover internet freedom issues like Net Neutrality and ACTA which will also impact negatively on ordinary Internet users. The point of this blog is to demystify the computerese so that ordinary people can understand the issues that will affect us all. Computers and the Internet are no longer luxuries.

I am fortunate in that I’ve had some good instructors, and for things I’ve researched on my own I’ve had excellent feedback. As well I know I have a few very technically astute readers who will not hesitate to provide technical correction where warranted.

European troll with a walking stick stands on a city street.

Trolls

A problem that has emerged out of Internet anonymity is a type of commenter which has come to be known as a “Troll”. Trolls comment wherever they think they can do damage. In forums, Facebook, blogs, and news articles.

Some trolls are just the internet version a vandals; they want to wreck things, or stir things up. Some delight in the power they feel in arguing about anything or everything. They will jump into any argument and take the contrary position just for the fun of it. This type of troll has been around since the earliest days of computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes were the early forums on independent computer networks that predate public access to the Internet of today).

As the Internet has achieved wider readership and acceptance, there has emerged a new class of troll, Professional Lobbyist Trolls. I’m guessing that at least some of these trolls receive a paycheck for their efforts, although it’s conceivable that some simply work for the corporation they are lobbying for. Whether they are officially remunerated for troll comments or not, I consider these people to be Professional Trolls because they engage in troll behaviour for gain.

The first kind of troll exists because they feel empowered through the argument. These trolls often engage in bullying tactics. The standard advice for dealing with these amateur trolls is “Don’t feed the troll.” This means that they should be ignored, because they will never back off. The more you respond, the worse they get. By ignoring them you deprive them of their power. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work because some of them will simply continue to escalate the abuse until a response is forthcoming.

The second type of troll exists because a special interest group – usually a corporation or a political party – is engaging in activity or behaviour that the public will not agree with because it is not in the best interests of the public. The professional troll’s job is to con us into thinking that it will be in our best interests, or if that doesn’t fly, that it’s necessary to make a sacrifice for some reason.

When CBC online runs a story decrying a bad corporate behaviour or government policy, something that triggers thousands of public online comments, often the special interest group behind the bad behaviour or policy tries to stem the tide of public negativity by sending in Professional Trolls. These trolls spread misinformation intended to muddy the waters and try to dissipate or minimize the public outrage. Trolls will attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting a different scapegoat, or more commonly by trying to cast doubt on the credibility of the information. Professional trolls have a whole arsenal of weapons for attacking an idea on every front except merit. That’s the biggest problem professional trolls have to overcome — a lack of valid arguments.

You can usually spot a Professional Troll because they are arguing against the good of society. The corporation, political group or ideology that the troll is advocating/lobbying for, will always gain something at the expense of others, usually the public. Because ordinary citizens don’t have lobbyists.

The StopUBB Troll

First I’ll reprint the Troll Comments I received today followed by my Comment Reply. Then I’ll break the troll’s comment down and analyze the flaws.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Wow so much FUD in this article. Not a Rogers employee, but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense, and guess what, carriers all pay on usage, broadband customers can to. You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Lol the Troll is spreading misinformation again… Although protesting that it is “Not a Rogers employee”, Lol the Troll‘s email address is through an offline “holding company” website with a Rogers IP address. Certainly looks suspicious.   Lol the Troll claims that “carriers all pay on usage”. Either Lol the Troll truly doesn’t understand (intelligence is not a pre-requisite for troll-dom) or is being disingenuous. Bell Canada is a “carrier”.  I doubt Bell Canada pays usage to anyone.

Admittedly, Rogers is also a carrier. Rogers doesn’t usually have to pay for internet access on it’s own cable, but there are some parts of Canada where Rogers is forced to go through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System (GAS), so I expect at those junctures, Bell is charging usage to Rogers. You would think that Bell and Rogers would be able to play nicely together, but neither share very well, and though they seem to work in conjunction at times, both want to be the only Canadian Internet monopoly.

The Independent Service Providers… that is to say, the Independent ISPs that Industry Canada mandated into the Canadian Internet market in order to provide Canadian consumers with access to competition, must purchase access to Bell Canada’s GAS as well. My understanding is that the Independents are ISPs not carriers. They do in fact pay a great deal for their internet access.

The Independent ISPs have contracted for blocks of bandwidth access with Bell Canada. Bell Canada was able to set the excessive prices they wanted, and the Independent ISPs agreed to pay the high prices Bell Canada set.   So Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth the Independent ISPs get through GAS. These independent ISPs do business by packaging the bandwidth differently than Bell Canada does. Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth that these ISPs re-sell to their own customers.

Usage Based Billing would mean that the Independent Service Providers’ customers would be forced to pay Bell Canada for “usage” that has already been paid for. The Independent ISPs are fighting against UBB because they don’t believe that their customers should have to pay more for the same service they get now. Usage Based Billing will also force the Independent ISPs to use Bell Canada’s pricing system, which will unfairly shackle their business model and most likely put them out of business.

Lol the Troll also attempts to discredit me personally as someone who doesn’t pay for my own Internet connection. Lol the Troll is accusing me of being an unproductive young person, without life experience, living in my parents basement, presumably off my parents.

First of all, a young person living in their parent’s basement is not necessarily unproductive. And age does not always bring life experience.   Considering that Lol the Troll made a second post with the same type of denigration on the About UBB and Me a page that very clearly says who I am, it is reasonable to think that Lol the Troll just wanted to try to discredit me, not caring about accuracy.

Now for the point by point Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Wow so much FUD in this article. “
Broad statement. Opinion, not fact. Attempt to establish street cred by using the acronym “FUD”. This actually backfires since the wikipedia definition points to someone with a marketing or political background. Precisely the demographic for professional trolls.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty and doubt, a marketing or political strategy.

Wikipedia

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Not a Rogers employee,”
Attempting to discredit my information without any validity. I’m sure Rogers has competent as well as incompetent staff just like any other large corporation. Working for Rogers wouldn’t make me an expert. Anymore than not working for Rogers would.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense,”
Saying the information is wrong without any supporting information. aka “Because I say so”. Lol is spouting nonsense. Thanks to research I quite understand why DPI is illegal in Europe, and ought to be here. At minimum it needs oversight.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “and guess what, carriers all pay on usage,”
Argument based on Fallacy. Partly correct, not remotely logical. Having just read the Wikipedia page I am amazed… the fallacy page is pretty much a Troll Primer. If you think a comment was made by a troll, chances are their argument will contain at least one of the fallacies listed on the Wikipedia page.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “broadband customers can to.”
Presence of the incorrect “to” indicates someone overly reliant on spell check.
The argument is specious. The points have nothing to do with each other.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.”
Inept inaccurate personal attack as a means of discrediting the accurate information I provide.

As mentioned, the other appearance of Lol the Troll is on my About UBB and Me page.

a naked rainbow haired troll doll, a naked blue haired troll doll with blue gem inset at navel, yellow haired and pink haired baby trolls wearing bibs and nappys, a white haired baby troll in a bunny suit, and a yellow haired troll wearing balloon trunks

My younger sisters were quite into troll dolls when we were kids. I couldn't see the attraction.

I actually saw this one first.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm

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!

Since the attempt at putting me down is so patently “out there” I didn’t bother arguing the point.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 8:26 am
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”.

Now for the Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. “
Ridiculous attempt at a personal attack especially considering that it is made directly below my biographical information.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “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. “
Aside from the incoherence, it appears that Lol the Troll is trying to sell the lie that Usage based billing will make the Internet cheaper for people who do not use torrents. Usage Based Billing charges will be assessed in addition to what users currently pay in Internet rates. Nowhere in any part of the official Bell Canada Usage Based Billing submission to the CRTC did Bell ever make any claim that any user would be paying less than they are paying now. But trolls can say what they want.
Lol the Troll is also attempting to imply that all torrent traffic is illegal or bad in some way, when readers of StopUBB know that isn’t accurate.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!”
Another vague attempt at personal attack in combination with casting aspersions on the excellent BitTorrent protocol, which is not only legal, but used for many excellent things, like distribution of Free Open Source software. Or Project Gutenberg.


I hope this article has made troll spotting a little easier.

I’ll leave you with my kid’s favorite web comic XKCD‘s take on amateur trolls:



[Image Credits:
D&D Troll photograph by Benny Mazur (benimoto)
European Walking Stick Troll Photo by HuBar, Wikimedia Commons
Troll Family Group, photo by Felicity Green, aka mygothlaundry, Flickr
the Troll in the “Troll Busters” logo was provided by Roixa RRG You can see more of her work in her ROIXA RRG blog
And of course thanks to Randall Munroe for publishing XKCD under a Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution Non-Commercial license which allowed me to reprint his comic in its entirety.]

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Why Usage Based Billing Won’t Bring Bell Canada the Profits they Expect

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 8, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Bell Canada applied to the CRTC for permission to implement Usage Based Billing.

Incredibly, the CRTC completely disregarded the wishes of the thousands of Canadians who told the CRTC they wanted the Bell Canada cash grab application to be denied.

Naturally, the Independent Internet Service Providers also asked the CRTC to deny the order which will at best seriously damage their ability to do business in Canada.

Bell Canada is not actually providing any new services to the Canadian internet users who will be hard hit by the additional fee being levied in exchange for… nothing.

Customers will be paying more for the very same service only because the agency that exists solely to regulate the telecommunications industry on behalf of Canadian citizens has completely ignored our wishes by granting Bell Canada’s request to unreasonably elevate out rates in exchange for… nothing.

If you believe that the CRTC should have done their mandated job and used their regulatory power to prevent Bell Canada from gouging Canadians rather than granting them the authority add additional costs to Canadian internet users in exchange for…. nothing… you may wish to express your disapproval of the CRTC by signing the online petition at http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

The saddest thing is that Bell Canada probably won’t even realize
the vast unearned profits they expect from Usage Based Billing.

Rich Canadians
The only Canadians who will be able to easily afford to pay the unreasonably inflated costs without a murmur are unlikely to do so. Because of course, one reason why the rich retain their wealth is because they don’t squander money for… nothing.

Since Independent ISPs are being forced by CRTC to implement Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing, CRTC has effectively legislated them out of independence, and it will be a miracle if they can continue to exist. So the only way rich Canadian internet users will be able to express their anger would be to switch to Rogers, Canada’s other over endowed Internet Service Provider.

Marginalized Canadians
Of course the people who can just barely afford to be connected to the internet now, and the people who were hoping that they’d be able to connect to the internet in the near future will be out of luck. They just won’t be able to do it.

In the midst of this global recession, people who are out of work will have a much harder time finding jobs since an increasing number of employment listings are handled exclusively online.

Ordinary Canadians
The people who can afford to access the internet today may in fact stay connected to Bell Canada or the newly emasculated Independents after Usage Based Billing is implemented. Most ordinary Canadians like myself will not provide Bell Canada with the big profits they hope to realize for the simple reason that our budgets will not allow it. At least not after the first *GASP* that many of us will have when the first Usage Based Billing invoices are issued come November.

So Bell Canada will receive a one time pure profit spike largely because most Canadians won’t be prepared for it since there has been next to no media coverage. (That’s the kind of thing that happens when a Regulatory body like the CRTC allows the carrier to own the media outlets and control news media content.)

Bell Canada is expecting to charge these usurious rates to Ordinary Canadians so that they realize a big profit for doing… nothing.

Since the internet has become such a big part of our lives, Ordinary Canadians are unlikely to just walk away from it.

But Canadians will no longer be able to participate online as fully as the rest of the world’s citizens.

We will stop being bold.

Because the thing about Usage Based Billing is that if we are very very careful, we may be able to keep with our budgets. Of course if our inboxes have a heavy dose of spam we may have to stay offline a bit more for that month. What other things will change? We’ll be unlikely to participate in Wikipedia. So all those Canadians who have been freely contributing to wikipedia’s store of internationally accessible knowledge will think twice before they do it again.

Big deal, the CRTC might say. Wikipedia isn’t even Canadian, they might say.

And I would agree that wikipedia is not Canadian, it is international. And Canadians have been promoting Canada to the world through wikipedia.

Which is why wikipedia has a large proportion of Canadian Content. (Maybe even more can con than you would get on a Canadian radio station.) Up until the advent of Usage Based Billing, like everyone else in the world, Canadians have been adding information we feel is important to wikipedia. The kind of information that would be found in an old time encyclopedia. But in addition to all that, wikipedia hosts an impressive amount of information on Canadian art, artists, musicians, etc.

The List of Bands from Canada is only one small way that ordinary Canadians have supported Canadian culture on the internet. But some of the Canadians who promote Canada to the world in that way are no longer going to be able to afford to do so. And many other Canadians will never have the opportunity to even try to participate in anything like wikipedia. It will just cost too much.

Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing Canadian will certainly cause contributions by Canadians to fall off. It will be too expensive.

How much amazing art and music will Canada miss out on by preventing many perfectly good Canadians from getting internet access. How much independent research and development will be done in Canada if it is too expensive for average people to utilize the internet full strength.

Canadian Small Business
How many small businesses will simply not be able to compete? Even though as far as I know “business” connections (currently substantially more expensive than individual connections) are not supposed to be affected by the introduction of Usage Based Billing. Except that many small businesses who are either starting out or just hanging on by the skin of their teeth (this is after all still a recession we’re in) don’t have “business” connections.

And of course businesses that rely on website advertising revenue will suffer a big downturn thanks to the drop in casual Canadian internet use.

Usage Based Billing will certainly change how Canadians use the internet and make it much more difficult for Canada to compete in a global economy.

Even if you work for a big company who can afford a business connection, they are unlikely to provide an additional business connection to allow you to work from home. So Usage Based Billing will impact on the ability of employees to “telecommute” because it will be too expensive.

And Bell Canada?
In order to implement Usage Based Billing Bell Canada will have to spend money to handle the administration of this new billing procedure. So Bell Canada is going to be spending a little bit more money to do that. But particularly in this economic climate Bell Canada is not going to take in the big pots of money they are expecting Usage Based Billing to generate.

We’re in a recession. Even if ithe recession is beginning to ease off, the money just isn’t there.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Throttling PROVES that the Internet is NOT congested

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 3, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

A big part of the Bell Canada argument in favor of Usage Based Billing (and “Throttling”) is the idea that the internet is “congested”. This is pure fabrication.

It is simply not true.

If the internet was actually congested, if the internet was anywhere near full, throttling would be the last thing Bell Canada would do BECAUSE the act of throttling actually increases the consumption of bandwidth.

Every time Bell Canada engages in the process of “throttling”
Bell Canada is adding to the alleged internet congestion.

Bell Canada throttles by deliberately cluttering up the internet. Throttling does indeed slow your service down.

Throttling is done by slowing down your internet packets by disabling some of them, so you are forced to use more bandwidth. They stop your packet’s message from getting through. Bell Canada doesn’t remove the packet, it is still floating around on the internet. But this forces you to send a replacement packet that maybe this time Bell Canada will allow to get to its destination. So those disabled packets are now adding to the supposed congestion.

Of course the computer users can not see this. We don’t KNOW when Bell Canada is stopping out packets, or for that matter how many packets they are stopping. We just know its taking a long time.

In trying to understand this, I came up with the following analogy (a version was originally posted in the comments section of one of the CBC online stories, CRTC wants internet pricing answers from Bell).

Understanding Throttling: The Ice Cream Parlour Analogy

Say you went to an ice cream parlour and ordered a 2 scoop ice cream cone. The server scoops one scoop into your cone, throws a second scoop in the garbage and then places a third scoop on top of the first,. Then she hands you your 2 scoop cone along with a bill for 3 scoops.

THAT is what throttling is. If you’re transferring a 5 gigabyte file you might find yourself paying for 7 gigabytes of bandwidth. Up until now it has “only” had the impact of making Canadian internet users reach their bandwidth limits sooner. But with “Usage Based Billing” you will ALSO be paying for Bell’s deliberate bandwidth inflation, in other words the bandwidth they throw in the garbage (the 2nd scoop).

Lets try a long distance phone call analogy.

Say I want to make a 3 minute long distance phone call to my granny.

So I call her up on the telephone and say, “Hey Gran, what’s happening?”

But at this point, the phone company deliberately cuts off my connection.

So I have to call her back. Of course I do.  This time I say.

“Hey gran, it’s me. Sorry, I don’t know what happened. Anyway. I was wondering what you’re up to this weekend. Since Marv is in town I thought we could have a…”

WHOOPS. The phone company disconnects my call again. So I have to call back again. This time I say,

“Hey gran I’ll make it quick… we’re having a barbeque for Marv on Sunday… Can make it? Sure you can bring your beau. Ok, Jack’ll pick you up at 2. Bye.”

When the phone bill comes in, instead of paying for the three minute call I’ve budgeted for, thanks to the phone company’s deliberate interference, I end up paying for 5 minutes on the line with my gran rather than three.

This is how throttling works. Which is a compelling reason why Usage Based Billing should never have been approved. As long as Bell is “throttling” they are deliberately inflating customer usage numbers. Which means that when they implement Usage Based Billing, they will be fraudulently billing customers— with the permission of the CRTC.

The fact that we don’t understand the jargon is a big part of why Bell Canada (and the CRTC) think they can get away this. In self defense I’ve done some research and created a Glossary of UBB terms on my dedicated Stop Usage Based Billing blog:

Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

If CRTC does not understand these issues, why are they giving Bell Canada permission for implementation of them?

Don’t forget: http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
6325 signatures!

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Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 22, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

The Usage Based Billing Issue will have a huge impact on all Canadians.

But it can be difficult for those of us who are not technically minded to follow the raging debate because we don’t know the jargon. So I’ve put together a Glossary. I’m not an expert, and in fact I’ve only learned what many of these things mean myself in the last week, but no one else is likely to do this, because:

  • The Big Three don’t want us to understand what’s happening because it is much easier to get away with stuff in a democracy if the populace doesn’t understand what is happening.
  • At the same time most of the technical people who are trying to fight this have been living and breathing this issue so long that it doesn’t even occur to them that most ordinary Canadians only understand about half of what they’re saying.

As always, if I get anything wrong, let me know so I can correct it.

Most of the jargon is too new to be in a dictionary, and although some of this is explained in wikipedia, not everything is. GAS, for example. That’s actually what convinced me this glossary was necessary. Because when learning about UBB I couldn’t figure out what gas had to do with the internet.

Although variations on these issues are being faced in other countries, at this time I am dealing exclusively with the Canadian version. I posted some of these definitions in the comments section of CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate yesterday.

UBB: A Glossary

bandwidth

Bandwidth provides a classic example of why regular people have a hard time understanding a lot of this, because it describes two very different rates of transfer.

Bandwidth is the measurement of download speed, measured in how many bits per second you can download.
Bandwidth has also come to refer to the transfer cap being placed on Canadian internet users, which is measured in gigabytes.

Put another way, bandwidth is a data transfer measurement of
(a) how fast you can go at any given time – your rate of speed, or
(b) how how far you can go in any given month – your allowed capacity.

Bell Canada

Looking at the Bell Canada homepage tells us that this corporation provides these services:

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service – Bell Mobility)
  • Internet (aka ISP – Sympatico)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting – express vue TV)
  • Home Phone

From its humble beginning as a crown corporation intended to string telephone wires across Canada, Bell Canada no longer simply provides telephone service. Instead we find Bell Canada firmly in the position of providing both the medium and the message. And apparently this is not enough. (Perhaps it’s time to look at dismantling this telecommunications giant.)

Big Three

Sometimes called the New Big 3, these are the three big Canadian telecommunication players, Telus, Bell Canada and Rogers Cable.

Canada

The Arrogant Worms sing that Canada Is Really Big and they’re right. The fact that Canada is physically the largest country in North America is one compelling reason why internet access is so important for Canadians. Like the railroad before it, the internet helps to connect Canadians to Canadians.

When telephone service first became viable in the early 20th century, no independent company would have had the resources to string the phone wires from coast to coast. The sheer size of Canada is also the reason why most of the Canadian telephone cable infrastructure was paid for by Canadian tax dollars. And why Bell Canada is forced to share this infrastructure with independent ISPs. Bell Canada is only the custodian of the Canadian telephone infrastructure, not the owner of it.

CanCon

A quota system established by the CRTC which is supposed to ensure that Canadian Broadcasters play a percentage of Canadian Content. The terms and definitions of this quota have varied over the years.

Carrier

The corporation controlling the wires. (aka The Big Three)

CRTC

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission or CRTC is supposed to be an independent public organization that regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications systems.

“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public. The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions.”
from Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission: Mandate

Deep Packet Inspection (or DPI)

Deep Packet Inspection allows Bell Canada the internet equivalent of opening your mail. The CRTC allowed them to look at anything you do online without having to go to the trouble of getting a warrant. How many people send encrypted email?

Deregulation

In the context of the CRTC and UBB, Degulation would be the removal of governmental control by rules or restrictions on the Canadian telecommunications industry.
Many Canadians believe that the CRTC is corrupt but that replacing the CRTC with an alternative regulatory body would simply create new corruption, and want no regulation of the Canadian telecommunications industry.

Dissolve the CRTC

Dissolve the CRTC is both a website and an online petition. Actually, I guess I’d have to call it a rallying cry as well.

Many Canadians believe that the CRTC is corrupt but that it would be possible to replace the CRTC with an alternative regulatory body which would act in the best interest of Canadians. Because many Canadians believe that good regulation of the Canadian telecommunications industry would be the best for Canada.

dsl

Internet connectivity provided over the wires of a telephone network is called a Digital Subscriber Line or dsl.

GAS

GAS, or the Gateway Access Service is how Bell Canada allows Independent ISPs access to their hardware.

Independent ISP

An Independent Internet Service Provider (ISP) purchases Gateway Access to the infrastructure (the wires) from the carrier, which they then break down into smaller packages which they sell directly to their customers.

ISP

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a corporate entity which delivers internet connectivity directly to the public.

In Canada this includes:

  • Independent ISPs who sell internet service directly to the public, as well as the
  • Carriers who also compete directly with the Independent ISPs by selling internet service directly to the public.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is the idea that the internet should be allowed to be free of restrictions so that it can be an unshaped resource. The particular Canadian issues is the Canadian consumer desire to stop the telcoms from controlling internet content or throttle the users.

From the CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate comments
The Sjarv wrote:
“If you want to compare internet usage to products like electricity or water, you must first provide modems that can access the internet unshaped with maximum speed allowed, let the personal computers regulate the speed, then you can charge for the amount consumed. Similar to facets and breaker boxes.”

Regulation

In the context of the CRTC and UBB, Regulation is the governmental control by rules or restrictions on the Canadian telecommunications industry. The rationale is to to control market entries, prices and standards for the benefit of Canada and Canadian consumers.

Rogers

Rogers Communications

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service)
  • Internet (aka ISP)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting)
  • Home Phone

Like Bell Canada, Rogers Communications now provides both the medium and the message. Perhaps it’s time to look at dismantling this telecommunications giant as well.

Telcoms

Telecommunication Companies

Telus

Telus is the third member of the Big Three. Funny, they also provide

  • Mobile (aka cel phone service)
  • Internet (aka ISP)
  • TV (aka television broadcasting)
  • Home Phone

providing both the medium and the message, like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications. Dismantling may be a good idea here too.

Throttling

By doing a deep packet inspection Bell Canada can identify bittorrent traffic and discard a packet you have sent with a request , so you never get a reply, which forces you to resend it.

This increases the amount of packets you have to send and it takes far longer for your packets to get through. When the internet carrier drops a percentage of your packets it slows down your transfer speed. But although the packets the carrier throttles don’t go anywhere, you are still charged for them. This pads your bandwidth usage. So when you send or receive a 5 gigabyte file you might be charged for a 7gigabyte transfer.

Transfer Cap

The maximum amount of internet use you will be allowed before the plug is pulled.

Usage Based Billing

In addition to the rates already being paid by internet subscribers, CRTC is allowing the carrier Bell Canada to charge all internet subscribers for the amount of bandwidth they supposedly use. (Even those of us who are not even their customers.) If this is actually implemented Rogers won;t be far behind.

The so-called “Usage Based Billing” will at best be based on inaccurate measure of supposed bandwidth use– as determined by Bell Canada.

VoiP

Voice Over Internet Protocol are Internet services which allow internet users to speat to one another using the internet rather than their telephone, provided by services like Skype, Yahoo and Rogers.


A few more links from CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate comments

The full Usage Based Billing that the CRTC has tentatively agreed to (excepting the “uncorrelated usage charge”) can be found here”
Usage Based Billing Zip File Thanks to btimmins

Over 6000 Canadian comments urging the CRTC to turn down the UBB application can be found at CRTC’s web site — Thanx to Abattoir6


I was just sent this link to an excellent April 14th Vaxination Informatique letter sent to the CRTC (or view the Google html version

This letter clearly identifies a plethora of problems stemming from Usage Based Billing. Thanx Bob.

Petition Update: as of time of writing, the Dissolve the CRTC petition is up to 4537 signatures!

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