interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘broadband’

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 »

Cat Joke: Making Light of A.C.T.A.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThe following cautionary cat tale was found in one of the Pirate Party of Canada’s forums.

Pirate Party of Canada logo

Hindgrinder
Re: ACTA Task Force

3 Canadians and 1 American were sitting together watching the Mens Gold Medal Game in Vancouver bragging about how smart their cats were.

The first man was an Internet Service Provider,
the second man was a Copyright Law Professor,
the third man was a New Democrat Member of Parliment, and
the fourth man was a US Corporate Lobbyist.

To show off, the Internet Service Provider called his cat, “Broadband”, do your stuff.”

Broadband pranced over to the computer, logged in as admin and started downloading the entire internet.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Copyright Law Professor said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Public Domain, do your stuff.”

Public Domain went over to the computer, instantly sorted all of what Broadband was downloading and printed off a fair copyright royalties due spreadsheet.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the New Democrat M.P. said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Parlimentarian, do your stuff.”

“Parlimentarian got up slowly to the computer, created a Facebook page, linked it to Broadband and Public Domain, drafted a dozen emails and bill 398, made a YouTube video meowing for transparency from ACTA cat and meowed an indian war dance song.
Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the US Corporate Lobbyist and said, “What can your cat do?”

The US Corporate Lobbyist called his cat and said, “ACTA, do your stuff.”

ACTA jumped to his feet…….

Throttled Broadband’s torrents to a crawl and initiated a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Broadband and Internet Service Provider……..
Scrambled Public Domains online excel sorting rules and shit on the fair royalties due spreadsheet……..
filed an inflated grievance lawsuit for RIAA lost revenue…….
bypassed due process to convict 90% of humans under 40 years old of copyright infringement……
screwed the other three cats and claimed he hurt his back while doing so…….
put in for Corporate Compensation for injury on the job in a foreign country……………and
went home for the rest of the day on paid sick leave…………

Internet Service Provider, Copyright Law Professor and N.D.P. M.P. where last seen pooling their money to buy a dog.

Geist

Angus

Of course, I’m wondering who everyone is…

Copyright Law Professor would have to be Michael Geist.

And it’s more than reasonable to assume that the N.D.P. M.P. would be the most vocal Canadian MP opponent of A.C.T.A. Charlie Angus, but who could the Internet Service Provider be?

talktalk logoIf this was the U.K., it would be talktalk, the brave ISP waging war with the dread Digital Economy Bill (the U.K.’s opening act for A.C.T.A.)

Within the joke, “ISP” couldn’t possibly be Bell Canada or Rogers, since their use of consumer monitoring tools like DPI to help run their empires clearly place them in the pro-A.C.T.A. camp.

MTSallstream logo

So if we’re going to extrapolate the casting for this joke, for Canada the ISP would have to be one of our endangered Independent ISP’s like MTS Allstream or Tek Savvy (you can find a comprehensive listing of Independent Canadian ISPs here).

pseudo FBI Warning

And the U.S. Corporate Lobbyist, well, lobbyists are faceless representatives of the business, or in this case group of businesses in back of a piece of legislation, or in this case a whole body of international legislation.

These businesses have been trying to convince the citizens of the world that we don’t own what we’ve purchased for years. They started by placing supposed FBI warnings on videotapes threatening huge fines for non-commercial infringement. Then the earliest attempts at copy protection (DRM/TPM). Followed by aggressive marketing campaigns directed at the media customer base, in attempts to demonize personal use copying.

Now, in the face of these failed attempts to change global attitudes about copyright and ownership through advertising/propaganda, the copyright lobby seeks to change the laws to force the world to follow their rules.

They’ve been pursuing this war actively on two fronts. First, by lobbying individual countries to criminalize copyright infringement. But lately, this group (dubbed by Michael Geist “The Copyright Lobby”) has gone much further, by convincing the U.S. Government to push the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” which seeks to force the world to change copyright law through this secret treaty on a global scale.

The “Copyright Lobby” is made up of the American led Movie and Music Corporations along with their Interested Associations and Copyright Collectives. Of course this lobby group is attempting to remain faceless. because the real victim in their nefarious activities is their customer base. This is why they are attempting to get governments to do their dirty work, particularly through secret treaties like ACTA. They have the vain belief that they won’t alienate their customers.

The copyright lobby doesn’t have a logo, precisely because the companies they represent are attempting to stay out of the public eye. It’s a thinly veiled secret that the corporation unofficially leading the fight for terrible copyright “reforms” is the same company that once had to be legally compelled to give credit to the animators, actors, writers, musicians, technicians etc. who actually created their movies. Though he hadn’t actually picked up a pencil himself in years, the corporate founder felt that the only name attached to movies made by his corporation should be his own. In those days the law disagreed.

Nearly a century later this same corporation seeks to change the laws of all the world so they can maintain control of a mouse cartoon. Which is why interested parties have created this logo (right) for A.C.T.A.

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

Dear Mr Harper

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 11, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing


Dear Mr. Harper:

You were quoted as saying:

“The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous, particularly for the thousands of Canadians who live in rural and remote communities,” said the Prime Minister. “The jobs of the future will increasingly depend on people in communities like Thetford Mines having consistent and reliable access to broadband services such as distance education, telehealth coverage and new online business opportunities. These are services that more and more Canadians rely on; they should also be services that all Canadians can count on.”

30 July 2009-Press release: PM announces major improvement to broadband internet access in rural Canada

I am writing to you today to ask,

“Will you stand behind your words?”

If you really believe what you said, how can you allow the CRTC’s approval of Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing to stand? Implementation of Usage Based Billing is diametrically opposed to those words.

The CRTC’s own website lists the overwhelmingly negative comments from Canadians at 2009-03-13 – # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181 – General Tariff – Gateway Access Service

Independent Internet Service providers asked the CRTC to deny the Bell Canada request for Usage Based Billing. Several thousand Canadian internet users (also known as Canadian Citizens) submitted comments to the CRTC website site asking the CRTC to deny Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing proposal.

In the face of this strong opposition from two sources, the CRTC went ahead and ruled that Bell Canada could in fact implement Usage Based Billing. The only reason they seem to have ignored their mandate in order to do this was because Bell Canada wanted them too.

“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.”

CRTC Website

CRTC

CRTC

If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand, it will severely compromise the ability of the Independent Service providers to compete, and so destroy all real competition in the Canadian Internet market. This decision will particularly damage the Independent ISPs since Bell Canada is continuing its practice of flagrantly ignoring the earlier CRTC ruling which directed Bell Canada to provide the Independent ISPs with equitable access.

Destruction of the independent service providers would certainly compromise any hope of “consistent and reliable access to broadband services” for Canadians.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand there will be an enormous problem in accurately measuring internet usage (I have read of accuracy variations divergant by as much as 800%). Industry Canada’s department of Weights and Measures doesn’t seem to be either prepared or equipped to deal with verifying and policing the accuracy of the measurement of “usage” necessary in usage based billing.

Making matters even worse, Bell Canada’s CRTC approved practice of “throttling” artificially inflates the “usage” figures. Throttling means that accurate measurement of usage will be virtually impossible. Most Canadian internet consumers like myself are not prepared to simply accept Bell Canada’s unsubstantiated word in determining what my usage is. In the absence of a fair and trustworthy means of auditing the measurement of Usage Based Billing by Weights and Measures Canada, I really don’t understand how Usage Based Billing can implemented at all.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand, it will harm Canada’s economy because it will change how Canadians use the internet. The insidious thing about Usage Based Billing is that the only way it will allow Canadians to keep our internet rates within our budgets will be for us to curtail our internet use.

  • Canadians will be in the unenviable position of paying the highest rates for internet service in the world. Certainly not because we’re getting better service, but because the CRTC has given Bell Canada permission to charge extortionate rates. This means that small businesses who count on online advertising revenue to pay for their websites may not get enough traffic to maintain their websites.
     
  • It means that many Canadian performers, artists and writers and film makers will not be able to afford to strenuously promote their arts and our culture, because suddenly it will cost too much. It means that many private Canadian citizens who have been making sure that Canada and Canadian achievements are adequately represented on wikipedia will no longer be able to do so once UBB makes it too expensive.
     
  • It means that many Canadian scientists and inventors will be limited in the use they can make of internet research because it will now be too expensive. Canada may never produce another Corel Draw, we may never create another Blackberry.
     
  • It means that families will have to consider how much to restrict our internet use so we can stay within our budgets. It means that some families will not be able to afford access to the internet at all. It means Canadian children will be at a disadvantage.

It is true that “The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous” but the CRTC’s implementation of Usage Based Billing would restrict that potential, limiting or eliminating any benefits for Canadians, while citizens of the other countries will be free to realize that potential.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

Usage Based Billing will negatively impact on “The jobs of the future” as well as the jobs of today, here and now in the recession. Not only will Canadians not be able to rely on broadband access, many of us will not be able to count on access at all.


http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
6670 signatures

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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