interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Bell’

There has yet to be actual proof that throttling was ever necessary – except as a means of gouging customers

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 21, 2011

CRTC

Bell Canada has announced that it will cease throttling users.

Please note: Bell’s argument for throttling was that it was necessary to keep the Internet safe from brown-outs. Clearly, that is not/was not the case.

Rogers continues to throttle customers Internet usage, and is currently in trouble with the CRTC for violating Internet rules which “rules allow throttling of peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent, but not of time-sensitive Internet traffic like video chatting or gaming.”  Because they claimed the Internet was getting too busy, the carriers said throttling was necessary.   Instead of slowing down all Internet traffic, the carrier/ISPs targeted peer-to-peer Internet traffic,  an efficient way of transferring large files online. Yet the CRTC granted the carrier/ISPs permission to discriminate against users who use peer to peer.

uploading and downloading

This isn’t rocket science. When customers pay for Internet service, they should get what they pay for. It is ridiculous that CRTC allowed Bell and Rogers to deliberately degrade their customers service in the first place.

It used to be called fraud when customers were deliberately shortchanged.

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bye Bye UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 16, 2011

 

No Usage Based Billing

Yesterday the CRTC did an about face and reversed the terrible decision to allow Bell Canada to charge Usage Based Billing to the Independent ISP’s customers, effectively pronouncing UBB dead.

Yay.

On the specific decision, the CRTC rejected the UBB model it approved less than a year ago, acknowledging that it was too inflexible and could block independent ISPs from differentiating their services. The issue then boiled down to Bell’s preferred model based on volume and the independent ISPs’ approach who preferred capacity based models. The Commission ruled that capacity-based models are a better approach since they are more consistent with how network providers plan their networks and less susceptible to billing disputes.

With Bell’s preferred approach out of the way, the Commission was left to choose between two capacity models – the independent providers’ “95th percentile” solution and MTS Allstream’s capacity model. The Commission chose a variant on the MTS Allstream model that involves both a monthly access fee and a monthly capacity charge that can increase in increments of 100 Mbps. That model is even more flexible than what MTS proposed, suggesting that the Commission was primarily focused on building in as much flexibility for independent providers as possible. In addition to this model (which the Commission calls an approved capacity model), the large ISPs can continue to use flat rate models which provide for unlimited usage.

Michael Geist, The CRTC’s UBB Decision: Bell Loses But Do Consumers Win?

Although I agree that further changes should be made, I’m not so sure I go along with all of Professor Geist’s suggestions. The CRTC  clearly does not function the way that it should.

The CRTC’s mandate is supposedly to protect consumers.  Looking at the history of UBB it is clear that the CRTC does not.  In practice, consumers don’t even make it onto the their radar at all; the only CRTC concern is the ISPs.

The CRTC continues to allow Bell Canada to deploy:

  • Deep Packet Inspection. This essentially allows Bell Canada total access to all unencrypted Internet traffic. Which means the technology gives Bell the means to read our email, and the CRTC allows this. With zero oversight. The CRTC trusts Bell with their privacy, but I don’t. And although I’m not even a Bell customer, my email is not safe from Bell, because my ISP goes through Bell. This is no more reasonable than giving blanket permission to Canada Post to open postal mail.
  • Gouging Customers. I was aghast that the CRTC didn’t understand that most Canadians pay a lot for mediocre Internet access, and worse, didn’t seem to believe the issue was relevant to their deliberations. Have to move to a different geographical location in order to get an another choice of ISP is not “choice.”
  • Throttling the Internet. This one still boggles my mind today just as much as when I first heard about it. When customers pay for a level of service, and the service provider deliberately impedes that service, providing inferior service than has been contracted for is wrong. And again, Bell is not only does this to their own customers, but to the customers of the Independent ISPs as well. Worse still, Bell decide singles out specific Internet traffic to discriminate against it. The CRTC gave Bell permission to do this, the implication being that is that all encrypted traffic is “Downloaders” It seems to me, even if someone is using the Internet for nefarious means, to illicitly download copyrighted content, say, it should not give an ISP the right to provide less bandwidth than the customer paid for. This argument is flawed; one crime doesn’t justify another.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I grew up in a world where deliberately short changing consumers was considered to be fraud, and when even the government law enforcement officials were required to get a warrant before they read my mail.

These are some of the reasons why I don’t think the CRTC is doing its job of protecting consumers. This could be fixed by making sure that the CRTC reflected its real constituency better. [hint: the CRTC should not be limited to past or present Telecom employees, but should also include consumers.] There shouldn’t have to be a major outcry before the CRTC hears consumer; if the CRTC is going to continue to exist, it needs to be responsive to the public.

If the CRTC isn’t reformed, it should be dissolved and replaced with something that does look out for citizens.

Both Bell and Rogers have far too much control over too many facets of the industries they inhabit. This sure looks like what our American friends might define as “anti-trust.” Where was the CRTC … how did things get this messed up if the CRTC was doing its job?

Rogers is apparently an even worse throttler than Bell, and in fact, “Rogers: The World’s Worst Throttler (Officially)”.

These corporations are not going to behave any better unless compelled to do so. Maybe its time they were broken up; the Internet is an essential service, perhaps it should be administered like any other utility, for the public good rather than the corporate greed.

[Thanks to both Robert & Joan!]

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Film: The UBB Deception

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 19, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

If  Usage Based Billing is implemented, it will be a very bad thing for Canada,

Thanks to Robert for sharing this little film.  One of the most difficult things about the issue is that the complexity makes it difficult for un-technical people to follow.  Making it worse is the misinformation and totally misleading ideas being spread by those who will profit enormously from UBB at the expense of our nation’s future.

This film may help people who are confused the issue  to understand why Usage Based Billing is bad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6peRQV5hFEQ

For free software users and anyone else having flash accessibility issues, I am also hosting an ogg version converted via TinyOGG of UBB Deception here

Thanks to François Caron who has released his film The UBB Deception under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-SA 2.5) License.



It’s not over yet.

Usage Based Billing has NOT been cancelled, only postponed.

The CRTC is not doing their job, but rather doing a disservice to Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 15028 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: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Broadband Power for the People?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 18, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

The Internet Billing Upheaval in Canada

By Arthur Czuma

CRTC logo
The year 2011 appears destined for revolutions. As Egyptians, Libyans, and others demonstrate across the Middle East and North Africa, Canadians are unleashing a quieter storm of their own. Hundreds of thousands have signed an online petition that calls for rescinding a new Internet billing policy that would eliminate price caps and bring usage-based charges. Striking the policy would help protect the interests of Canadian consumers – and the government seems to be listening. A senior government official indicated that if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not reverse its controversial ruling, then the Cabinet would do so.

New Per-Gigabyte Charges

The policy, which would take effect on March 31, centers on the amount of data that consumers can view or download and for what expense. Not surprisingly, it’s the bigger ISPs that support the new fees supported by the policy. Many have already been charging users in accordance with how much data they access – and now, the new law would have smaller ISPs do the same. That’s because smaller ISPs lease bandwidth from larger telecommunications firms such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and Shaw Communications. Despite their small size, the lesser-known ISPs (Internet service providers) have typically been providing both greater bandwidth and lower fees than have the bigger ISPs such as Bell and TELUS.

Small ISPs Scoff at “Wholesale” Rate

Netflix logo
The larger telecom firms are mandated by government to lease their bandwidth to smaller ISPs and resellers. However, until now, they were prohibited from passing per-gigabyte fees on to these customers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has attempted to placate small providers by granting them a 15% discount on cable and telecom companies’ retail rates – but the small ISPs are less than impressed with this wholesale rate. In fact, many regard it as just another retail price. From the perspective of small business, the discount is hardly compensation for the new power imbalance: it merely slows the journey toward an Internet oligopoly or monopoly.

The large companies, in turn, cite their right to manage their networks – and they claim that flat-rate Internet pricing is no longer viable. Bell Canada raised the issue in 2009 as iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and other online video and video game providers contributed to rapid growth in online traffic. But that’s a hard argument to swallow: according to the CRTC’s own data, just as some large providers have been charging for “excessive” traffic for years, smaller ISPs have offered plans with literally hundreds of times the bandwidth, if not unlimited service, at a lower cost.

Tony Clement

Minister of Industry, Tony Clement

Canadians Take Action

The question of exactly what is the just balance between fostering competition and granting corporate rights will always be up for debate. For now, however, it seems that Canadians have drawn a line in the sand. In addition to more than 465,000 having signed a “Mind the Cap” petition online, tens of thousands have written to the Minister of Industry to protest the imposition of usage-billed Internet billing. And as back-up, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, a group of more than 20 ISPs, is considering its legal options if the Conservative government does not revoke the CRTC ruling. A senior official acknowledged that the billing is “a bread-and-butter issue” and would be treated as such.

Canadian Flag

The Numbers

Many Canadians currently have Internet plans that charge for using an excess of 25 gigabytes per month. That’s equivalent to watching about five Netflix movies or downloading about six video games. It’s certainly not enough for many people’s entertainment needs, nor is it sufficient to help get a small business established or draw innovative services. For instance, a data cap would stymie the expansion of Netflix, the online video company that recently started offering unlimited movie rentals for about C$8 per month.

A Contagious Revolution?

By striking down the decision, the government will enable the small ISPs to remain competitive and thereby help bring a variety of affordable Internet options to Canadians. At the same time, eliminating caps will help attract innovative digital entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy. It’s inspirational – and if US Americans would pay attention, perhaps the Canadian revolution could spread stateside. Regardless of their political stripes, fair Internet pricing is something that just about every consumer can stand for.



Distributel logo
About the author

Arthur Czuma is a writer and consultant for several Ontario-based businesses including Distributel, a local ISP.



It’s not over yet.

Usage Based Billing has NOT been cancelled, only postponed.

The CRTC is not doing their job, but rather doing a disservice to Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 15027 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UBB is Bad

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 6, 2011

“Usage-Based Billing: A last-ditch effort to kill the competition.

By forcing all the small ISPs to cap usage and operate just like Bell, the CRTC has effectively buried any strategic advantage that small ISPs can use in competition against Bell and other major telecoms.”

Andy MacIlwain: CRTC & Usage-Based Billing (UBB): Canada Needs Telecom Competition!

Financial Post: Seeing red over metered Internet gets some of it right, but thinks there can actually be justification for UBB.

“if users do find that their usage is being metered, they are going to change their habits.”

Ottawa Citizen: The CRTC and friends

“There is a huge conflict of interest here being seemingly ignored by the CRTC. Bell-Rogers are limiting their competitors’ ability to compete with their cable divisions, by using their Internet divisions to discourage increased Internet usage. Why is this not discussed more often? Maybe one company should no longer be allowed to own both?”

— Corey Flemming Letter to the Editor, Big carrier Internet conflict

“Although large incumbent operators such as Bell Canada have put in usage caps of between 20 and 60 gigabytes, competitive ISPs like TekSavvy either offer 200 gigabyte caps or even unlimited use. If the rules go into effect, competitive carriers would have to enact similar bandwidth usage limits on usage.”

India Telecom Tracker: Canada’s CRTC postpones implementation of usage-based billing rules

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 14414 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: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

UBB Choice? Smoke and Mirrors

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 4, 2011

No Usage Based BillingNow that various politicians of every stripe seem to have weighed in on UBB, and the announcement that it will be overturned has been made, the UBB front is quieting.

There has been shock and surprise that Bell requested a delay in UBB implementation. Of course it makes perfect sense… it will have died down in a couple of months. Will the same level of consumer outrage be there? We’ll have to see. Bell has been playing politics in Canada since it was formed by an Act of Parliament.

The lack of care for consumers as a crucial Internet stakeholder was apparent in that the CRTC allows the regulated Industry a three month appeal process, yet Implementation of UBB (including notification) to consumers was a single month.

And the CRTC is planning a “review.”

In von Finckenstein’s effort to defend UBB, he failed to recognize that there is a world of difference between supporting the choice of an ISP to implement UBB and a regulatory model that leaves an ISP with no other alternative. The CRTC’s UBB decisions are wrong not because UBB is wrong, but because they undermine the potential for competitors to make alternative choices.

Michael Geist, The CRTC’s Faulty UBB Foundation: Why There is Reason to Doubt the Review

Michael Geist is right.

The biggest tragedy is that Consumers are deprived of choice.

It doesn’t matter that Industry has choice if consumers have none.

The biggest failing of the CRTC is that the ONLY thing they take into account is the needs of the industry. Throughout the whole UBB issue, they have totally and utterly ignored the public. I first heard about UBB when the CRTC had closed the comments after the first proposal by Bell. At that time 4,000 consumers had filed complaints about UBB using the proper CRTC process. Yet when the CRTC approved UBB, it dismissed this incredible level of citizen input with a single line that consumers had commented. That’s THOUSANDS of responses made about something that had NO press coverage.

Throughout the entire UBB process, the CRTC has completely ignored citizen needs and issues. Incredible since their mandate is to look out for consumers.

If you don’t think that is a mammoth number, look at the number of participants in last year’s Digital Economy Consultation – which *did* have press coverage:

“Between May 10 and July 13, more than 2000 Canadian individuals and organizations registered to share their ideas and submissions. ”

Minister Clement Updates Canadians on Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy

The CRTC has consistently ignored consumers, while ruling in the Interests of the large telcos. What UBB seeks to do to Independent ISPs is terrible.

But I believe it is most terrible because of what it will do to consumers.

NO CRTC

CRTC #FAIL

Right now, today, in 2011:

  • many Canadians only Internet option is dial-up.
  • many Canadians have but ONE Internet ISP “choice”.
  • some Canadians have two Internet ISP “choices” – legacy telephone or cable ISP
  • some Canadians have the choice between the legacy telcos (aka the carrier-ISPs) and Independent ISPs.

The only “choice” many Canadians have, the only way to choose a different ISP, is to move to a different geographic location. You know, sell your house, get a new job. etc.

Which is no choice at all.

The past two years has consisted of a great deal of time and money spent by all the ISPs. Lawyers fees alone would have been staggering.

If all of that money had been spent on expanding service areas, think of where Canada would be now.

No matter what happens, this has been an incredible #FAIL on the part of the CRTC.

In SPITE of the CRTC, there actually are a few UBB free choices, regardless. According to Reddit: UBB-Free ISPs yak.ca and eyesurf.net don’t get their Gateway Access through Bell. There probably are more like them scattered across the country.

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 14099 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Responsibly against Internet Throttling *and* UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 3, 2011

or, Why David Eaves Is Wrong about Usage Based Billing

David Eaves is a smart guy. The problem is that there is so much misinformation about Usage Based Billing,  like so many others, he is terribly misinformed:

“One thing that has bothered me about these complaints is that they have generally come from people who also seem to oppose internet service providers throttling internet access. It’s unclear to me that you can have it both ways – you can’t (responsibly) be against both internet throttling and usage-based billing. “

—David Eaves, Why the CRTC was right on Usage-Based Billing

It’s understandable, really. UBB is difficult to understand, describe and explain. Because it’s so complex.
For instance, try explaining that Bell is a backbone carrier as well as an Internet service provider competing with their own wholesale customers.
It’s kind of like a song i heard when I was a kid, something about being your own grandpa….

First, the jargon is so new, much of it isn’t even in Wikipedia.

That’s one of the things I struggled to address when I started this blog. But it gets worse. Bell doesn’t use the words of jargon the same way other ISPs in other parts of the world do.

Let’s look at “throttling”:

The short version is that Bell’s version of “throttling” consists of deliberately impeding traffic, which actually artificially inflates bandwidth consumption. Worse, they use DPI to discriminate against specific traffic. When you add UBB to throttling, the result looks very much like fraud. Which is why the American ISP Comcast was slapped down by the FCC when they did it.

Understanding Bell Throttling, excerpt from C: Deep Packet Inspection

POLICING

Policing

Policing traffic above a certain rate simply consists of allowing dropped packets when there is Internet congestion. Using the infamously overused highway analogy, if there were two westbound lanes of traffic and the lead car in the fast lane has a blow-out and slams on the brakes and skids to a stop, the other cars in the fast lane can either rear-end this car or overflow the highway into the center ditch. Or both. The traffic in the slow lane just keeps moving along and none of it is lost.

So if the Internet truly is congested, some of it will go through fine but whatever doesn’t fit will simply be discarded, and become “lost” or “dropped” packets. The traffic that is not dropped moves as smoothly as ever. Without an acknowledgment of receipt, the dropped packets will eventually be resent when the recipient system places a “resend” request after the congestion has cleared up. Because this method of clearing up Internet congestion does not target any particular type of Internet traffic, it does not require the invasive deep packet inspection process.

Traffic Management: Forced Through A Bottleneck

Traffic Shaping or Throttling

The practice known as “Traffic Shaping” can also be called “throttling”.

Traffic Shaping is applied to Internet congestion by forcing all the traffic to slow down and conform to a certain speed by pushing it through a bottleneck.

In this process, no traffic is lost, it is simply delayed in a huge queue. Your computer’s packets will take longer to cross the Internet, and generally your computer will slow down its demands until the congestion is cleared. Revisiting the highway analogy, if we funnel four lanes of traffic into one, everyone gets to where they’re going, but the trip might take an hour instead of fifteen minutes.

This process called interchangeably Traffic Shaping or Throttling does not require the invasive Deep Packet Inspection process either, again for the same reason: it is not targeting a specific type of traffic, it slows down everything.

“ ‘Policing’ drops packets when a bandwidth threshold is exceeded, while ‘traffic shaping’ queues packets during high bandwidth use and releases them when bandwidth use reduces. No data is lost with ‘traffic shaping’. (Cisco, Comparing Traffic Policing and Traffic Shaping for Bandwidth Limiting)

‘Policing’ and ‘traffic shaping’ are protocol agnostic; all traffic is equally affected. Neither ‘policing’ nor ‘traffic shaping’ requires DPI.

Bell Canada’s throttling does neither.”

–Bob Jonkman, Sobac Microcomputer Services

What Bell Canada calls “throttling” is not the same thing as what the rest of the world calls “throttling”.

What Bell Canada means by “Throttling”

“ Bell uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to identify peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic (CRTC filing), and most likely the Bittorrent protocol in particular. Bell Canada uses Sandvine’s equipment for DPI and throttling. With throttling, a forged reset is sent to the client for a percentage of transmitted packets. The client needs to re-establish the connection, as well as re-transmit the lost data (Robb Topolski first discovered the use of forged reset packets). Since Bittorrent transmits as much data as it receives, the re-transmission costs are significant.

BELL Logo

In the US, this practice was ruled illegal by the FCC .

‘Policing’ and ‘Traffic Shaping’ sound like industry weasel words to make it sound like they’re doing a good thing. ‘Policing’, ‘traffic shaping’ and ‘throttling’ all degrade service for the party being policed, shaped or throttled. Of the three, Bell has chosen to use ‘throttling’, the technique that’s most disruptive to its customers.”

–Bob Jonkman, Sobac Microcomputer Services

RESET

Bell Canada gets to decide the fate of our packets.

In 2008 Bell Canada acquired Sandvine‘s Deep Packet Inspection equipment with the intention of charging their own customers for their bandwidth usage. Using the DPI process to peel back the packet layers, Bell Canada is able to acquire a lot of information from the packets that make up our Internet traffic. Unfortunately, DPI also shows the Carrier what the content is, unless the content is encrypted. If the content IS encrypted, DPI lets Bell Canada know it’s encrypted. Essentially Deep Packet Inspection gives Bell Canada the capability of reading any unencrypted packets we send across the Internet.

The original application of DPI was to allow Bell Canada to keep track of their customers’ bandwidth use. This necessarily requires information about both senders and recipients, because you can’t reasonably charge Usage Based Billing without knowing which customers used what amount of bandwidth. Bell Canada did not require permission to do this to their own retail customers, because the CRTC does not set Internet pricing. The CRTC allows the ISPs freedom to charge what they want, since the CRTC believes Canada enjoys competition. The idea here is that customers who are dissatisfied with the price or the service terms they are getting are able to change ISPs.

Interestingly enough, at the same time that Bell was busily “throttling” customers, it seems that Bell Canada had begun a new business enterprise: The Globe and Mail: Bell launches video download store. Although customers using Peer to Peer file sharing protocols for downloading were being throttled, it seems subscribers to Bell Canada’s own download service were not.

The problem began when Bell Canada took things too far. After deploying their Deep Packet Inspection package, it wasn’t long until Bell Canada took it a step further– Bell Canada began to use DPI to “throttle” their wholesale customers’ Internet traffic as well.

Congestion

Certainly there is congestion. If you were using a 15 year old computer you would find it much slower than the one you’re using now.

The Canadian Internet infrastructure seems to be rather like that. At the beginning, Bell infrastructure was state of the art. It isn’t state of the art any more. This isn’t because of anything Bell has done, it seems to be what Bell has not done. It’s the same infrastructure they had back then.

Is that the fault of consumers? No. We pay some of the highest Internet rates in the world.

Non-discriminatory traffic shaping (slowing everything down, rather than singling out the traffic you don’t like) is the accepted practice in parts of the world where citizen privacy and equality is valued. DPI is illegal in many parts of the world because of its capacity for abuse.

Artificial Scarcity

The Internet is NOT full. The technology is not getting more expensive. Far from being a genuinely scarce resource, technology is getting faster and storage capacity is increasing while costs drop. Had Bell upgraded the infrastructure to leading edge five years ago it would have much cost far more more than it would cost today. And it would only be half as good.

I remember when my sister’s 2 gigabyte hard drive was unimaginably large. Today you can get a 2 Terabyte drive for around $100 and a 2 GB flash drive is barely adequate for my kid’s school work.

Canadians have been paying inflated costs all along that more than pay for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, yet if there has been any of the latter I’ve not heard a peep about it. So long as the CRTC allows Bell to charge the customers of their competition UBB there certainly is no incentive for Bell to increase capacity.

People Don’t Understand Bandwidth

What is bandwidth? How much are you using? How can you reduce it?

The first thing to realize is that we are paying for our Internet connection. I pay TekSavvy, my ISP, the agreed rate. My ISP pays the Carrier, Bell, the agreed rate. UBB is an additional cost added to an already profit generating price structure. It over rides contracts.

When TekSavvy buys bandwidth from Bell, they have bandwidth they can redistribute at their discretion.

If you buy a basket of apples from a Farmer, and then give one apple to Tom, three apples to Dick, and 14 apples to Harry, the farmer can’t charge more because Harry took too many apples.

Yet one of the most persistent fallacies floating around is the idea of “bandwidth hogs.”

hogwash

Hogwash

Actual usage costs range from less than a Canadian penny a gigabyte to possibly as high as three cents/GB.

Yet the big telcos want to charge a range from one to five dollars per gigabyte.

The Independent ISPs have contracted for finite blocks of bandwidth. They pay Bell what they have contacted — prices set by Bell — to pay for these blocks of bandwidth. UBB is a bonus that will be paid to Bell in exchange for providing zero in additional value. Without, say, having to upgrade.

Ultimately, unlike paying for a glass of water, Canadians don’t even know what bandwidth is. The CRTC claims that they support choice. Yet when the Internet first opened up, Canadians chose not to get involved. Originally, the Internet was all Usage Based Billing all the time, charged by the minute. Aside from Technophiles and the rich, Canadians stayed offline. It wasn’t until we could get the Internet at flat rates that Canadians jumped on board with enthusiasm.

Even Bell can’t reliably offer more than a “range” of what some internet activity will actually cost.
There is no meter we can see. Right now I could walk outside and wade through the snow and write down the numbers on my hydro meter. The federal government guarantees the accuracy of the equipment.

Yet there is absolutely no oversight for UBB.
Bell could pull figures out of the air, and consumers have no recourse.
Nor does Bell actually undertake to deliver speeds that they claim to offer.

And the CRTC allows this, instead of looking out for the best interests of consumers.

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 13974 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

UBB: Still Misunderstood

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 3, 2011

No Usage Based BillingJohnny Rocket passed this along on the comments page:

Toronto Star: Ottawa to reverse CRTC decision on Internet billing

Oh look, another one: The Vancouver Sun: Harper Conservatives to quash CRTC decision killing unlimited Internet

Sounds like the Government is pressing the CRTC to overturn the ruling.

This sounds promising, but at the moment it is nothing more than talk.

The real story is Jason Koblovsky: CRTC To Appear Before Committee On UBB
That the CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein will be addressing Industry Canada tomorrow, presumably to explain the ruling.
Four days are allotted to the CRTC. Of course, anything can happen.

Nothing has actually changed.

The reality is that Usage Based Billing has been approved and has passed through many appeals &tc. since Bell first asked the CRTC for it in 2009.
Currently all the appeals are over, and there is an intact ruling that the Independent ISPs must implement by March 1st.
That has not changed.

Back in May of last year, the CRTC gave UBB conditional approval, saying UBB would not go ahead until all of Bell no longer had customers with unlimited service since imposition of Bell’s UBB on wholesalers would force them to withdraw unlimited service they provide their customers. So for a number of months, it appeared that we were safe from the spectre of UBB. But Bell appealed the decision and the CRTC renegged, instead allowing Independent ISPs to “grandfather” the levels of service enjoyed by longstanding customers, who had accounts dating from 2007.
(2007? What’s up with that? If they were going to do a grandfather deal, at the very least the cutoff should be from when UBB was approved.)

The CRTC has made incredibly bad rulings in regard to the Internet. There are a couple of other incredibly important longstanding issues that need to be looked at here as well.

Hopefully, Industry Canada will be looking at these when they talk about UBB, because everything is related:

Throttling

A few years ago Bell began “throttling” the Internet. Not just their own retail customers, their wholesale customers’ customers too.
[No, that is NOT a typo: the CRTC allows Bell to deliberately degrade the Internet service of their competitor’s customers.]

When the Independent ISPs brought this to the attention of the CRTC… that bandwidth they pay Bell for was being throttled, the CRTC gave Bell permission to do this.

Interestingly, Bell actually started “throttling” at the same time they were Globe and Mail: Bell launches video download store

Internet Ignorance

The justification for “throttling” was that the Internet was too congested.

Apparently The CRTC bought the Bell argument that the Internet was in danger of getting full and maybe crashing.

Jesse Brown famously asked the chairman about proof, and amidst the waffling, the answer seemed to be that Bell said so.

DPI

The CRTC trashed Canadian privacy protection by allowing Bell to deploy Deep Packet Inspection without the slightest bit of oversight.

If you don’t understand what that means, that’s okay, because apparently the CRTC didn’t understand it either.

The short version is that DPI allows Bell to look at everything on the Internet.

Bell has CRTC permission to read your email without needing a warrant.
Without the slightest bit of accountability.
The CRTC trusts Bell with our private data.

I don’t.

The only way to stop them from reading our email or looking at the naked baby in the bath photo we emailed grandma is to encrypt the email. Of course, the reason Bell asked for and got permission from the CRTC to do this was so that they would know what internet traffic to discriminate against. Because Bell discriminates against encrypted internet activity. On purpose.

“We established independent regulators because they’re supposed to have the expertise, the freedom from partisan pressures, the time and the longer-term perspective to make the painful and complex decisions required to keep industries that are otherwise liable to market failure operating in some semblance of the public interest. ”

Globe and Mail: Richard French “Second-guessing the CRTC comes at a price”

Richard French thinks the problem is that the Government is overturning the regulator.

The sad fact is that Mr.French would have a lot more credibility if he wasn’t parroting the oft cited bogus argument about “heavy users.”

Like the CRTC, Richard French doesn’t understand the problem in getting expert advice from the special Interest Group the CRTC is supposed to be regulate.

The problem is that the CRTC does NOT understand the Internet.

Mr. French is writing for the Globe and Mail which is owned by Bell. Coincidence?

Maybe he should read my article Speculation not Prophecy

P.S. Two More Good Links

A Mainstream Media article that understands UBB Financial Post: Counterpoint: Net users will pay a lot more

And a blog: Barrel Strength: The perpetual error of communications policy

It’s not over yet.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 13711 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: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Scrooged out of Net Neutrality?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 25, 2010

No Usage Based BillingA Guide to The Open Internet” is a wonderful InfoGraphic that does a masterful job of visually explaining the importance of Net Neutrality, by contrasting the Internet of the present with The Ghost of the Internet Yet to Come.  Anyone who doesn’t understand the issue should definitely take a look.

graphic showing internet "tubes"

This is essentially a public service announcement made by the page’s creator, Michael Ciarlo. who explains how his personal experience with Internet non-neutrality led him to make this statement.

In Canada we’ve seen similar instances to what he describes, as when Bell started throttling the Internet access of the Independent ISPs.  The fact is that at the time Bell had just launched their own download service, which Bell was not throttling. Incredibly, the CRTC gave Bell approval

More recently, just when NetFlix opens for business in Canada the CRTC renegged on the conditions that had been set for Bell Canada before Usage Based Billing could be imposed on the Independent ISPs from Bell. Apparently Bells Fibe TV service is NOT subject to caps and throttling. Again, non-neutrality.

The CRTC‘s ill advised approval of Usage based Billing is a serious blow to Net Neutrality, not least because it threatens meaningful competition in the Canadian Internet market, and may well destroy it.

Net Neutrality is important to us all.



Net Neutrality is important to anyone who uses the Internet.
Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

You can also call or write your MP, whose email can be found here: MP postal code look-up

And we can contact the interested government Ministers:

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: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The FCC, the CRTC and NetFlix

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 19, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

[Seems the Stop Usage Based Billing blog has been getting traffic from The Consumerist, so I put together the following comment to try and clear up/boil it down for their audience. Except it’s being held for moderation. Since its a nutshell version of the situation I thought I’d post it here whilst I get back to writing my 2010 !NaNoWriMo novel.]

The US has the FCC; in Canada we have the CRTC.

Our backbone telephone carrier Bell does the throttling here in Canada, (in much the same way Comcast “throttled” and got slapped down by your FCC. The difference here is that when Bell got caught throttling they were given *permission* to throttle from our CRTC.)

The same Bell has asked the CRTC for Usage Based Billing.

Thing is, the CRTC has said they can throttle, cap or UBB their own ISP customers as much as they like. And they are. They do it already. They don’t need CRTC permission to do that.

But, you see, Bell has been losing customers to the Independent ISPs (especially when these customers discover that Bell is throttling etc ) In Canada it is the Indie ISPs who have challenged Bell’s right to throttle. And who have been fighting for net neutrality.

The thing about both Bell’s Canadian throttling and UBB is that Bell is doing both to the customers of the Independent ISPs.

Because as well as being a backbone carrier, Bell also happens to be an ISP that competes with the Independent ISPs. (I think in the US this would be called an “anti-trust” issue.)

Bell had to ask the CRTC permission to charge UBB to their competitors customers.

Netflix logo
So Bell wants to charge UBB — an additional price structure — to the customers of the Independent ISPs. I thought this was unreasonable when I first learned about this and felt compelled to start this public service blog to try to raise awareness of the issue.

More than a year later I still can’t get my mind around the idea that Bell would even ask our government telecommunications regulator to charge Usage Based Billing to their competitors customers. This is just… inconceivable.

The most incredible thing is that the CRTC gave this permission.

Interesting that it happened just as Netflix rolled out in Canada.

Stop Usage Based Billing



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11344 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 »