interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Canadian’

Canadian Copyright Consultation Extension

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 15, 2009

(Note: I will be duplicating this post In the Wind.)

Although the Consultation is officially closed, there is a 48 hour grace period to allow Canadians to be heard, so you can still speak your piece up until midnight tonight, September 15th, 2009.

A good website for assistance in the mechanics of submitting your opinions is

The official government website is

But all you really need to do is send them an email at:

The questions to answer are:

1. How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time
3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?

I’ve posted my submission in the wind. Feel free to use any of my words & ideas that might help you express your opinions.

The other two sites that have helped me sort out my thoughts are

Some of us noisy types have written a lot, but you don’t have to. Just tell them what you think. Canadians need to speak up if we want to be heard.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

[note: my technical adviser keeps telling me I shouldn’t be going back to published blog posts and editing them, but there were a few broken links here which I just had to fix.]

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

Canadian Copyright Consultation deadline MIDNIGHT

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 13, 2009

Strong and free?

Speak up on Canadian Copyright Consultation

The Canadian government is soliciting Canadian input on how we feel the copyright laws should be updated.

Today is the final day for sumbissions. A couple of great sites to check would be:

Submit today (before midnight) Sunday September 13, 2009.

I’m off to put my two bits in. I mean really, how many times does the government ask for our input?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

[Note: fixed a broken link here too.]

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Psst… Pass It On: Stop Usage Based Billing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 1, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

I’m nobody important.  I’m not a “Name” commentator.  I’m not an “expert” on the internet.  I’m only a member of the public.  A Canadian.  An individual.

Just a mom, with a blog.

Like you, I’m a member of the Canadian public that the CRTC believes does not matter. In granting the Bell Canada request for Usage Based Billing the CRTC casually dismissed the Canadian public– the very people they exist to serve– in one sentence:

Telecom Order CRTC 2009-484 – Ottawa, 12 August 2009 – Introduction

“2…. The Commission also received a large number of comments, mostly from individuals;
these submissions generally opposed the Bell companies’ applications.”

Like most Canadians I didn’t know about Usage Based Billing, so I wasn’t one of the “nobodies” who posted the comments so cavalierly dismissed by the CRTC.

Some people in the Canadian computer community were in fact aware of the Usage Based Billing issue because American ISPs had been trying to get Usage Based Billing approved in the States. So pros and cons of Usage Based Billing had been discussed in technical forums, often alongside net neutrality. (Something else I’d never heard of.) But the FCC turned them down. So the Americans have provided a bona fide example of a telecommunications regulator actually operating for the public good. Huzzah!

None of those technical folks with their thumbs on the pulse of the internet were prepared for the sudden onset of Usage Based Billing. The first even THEY seemed to have heard of it was on the last day (the only day?) submissions were to be accepted by the CRTC.

Why don’t Canadians know that their internet costs will double in less than three months?

Strong and free?

Strong and free?

Because Usage Based Billing has not been in the news.  That’s the way the CRTC and Bell Canada want it.  The last thing they want is for ordinary people to find about about this.

They need to keep Canadians in the dark.

After all, CTV is ignoring it. The Globe and Mail is ignoring it. Of course Bell Canada is a very large shareholder in both of these news outlets. And of course the news media controlled by Rogers isn’t covering Usage Based Billing either. Coincidence? I think not.

The only coverage I’ve been able to find is some stories on CBC online, but the story apparently hasn’t been big enough to keep alive. But still, thank goodness for CBC, because their coverage has been better than nothing.

The big problem is that although most people who know about this are understandably annoyed:

Most Canadians still have not even heard of Usage Based Billing

The first time most Canadians will even find out about Usage Based Billing will be when they are suddenly hit with a huge bill.

The problem is, Usage Based Billing will have a huge impact on Canada.

Short term, it will cost us twice as much as we’ve been paying to go online. Which will make Canada far and away the most expensive place on earth to access the internet.

And we’re not talking about improved service. Canadian’s won’t get anything new or better for the privilege of paying twice as much.

The reason Bell Canada wants to introduce Usage Based Billing is to be able to inflate the take.
And incidentally kill off Bell Sympatico’s surprisingly robust competition.

The CRTC’s own website says:

“But the CRTC’s role in telecommunications is evolving. In many telecom markets, several consumer choices are available. This natural competition results in better prices and packages for consumers. In these cases, CRTC allows competition, not regulations, to drive the market. The CRTC regulates only where the market doesn’t meet the objectives of the Telecommunications Act. CRTC’s website

Yet the CRTC’s approval of Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing does precisely the opposite of what they claim they do.

Usage Based Billing will directly harm the independant ISPs who purchase bandwidth wholesale through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System. These ISPs have done a good job. They’ve brought competition into the Canadian marketplace in exactly the way they were supposed to. Because they offer great service and great deals, they have been getting customers. Maybe even customers who are dissatisfied with Bell Canada.

The introduction of Usage Based Billing means that all the people who have contracted for internet service through the independent ISPs will find our service providers can no longer meet the terms of the contract. The fledgling Independant ISPs will be hit badly. This will stun, stall or eliminate Bell Canada’s internet competition. Usage Based Billing is here because the CRTC used regulations to drive the market into the ground. Not for the benefit of Canada. But for the benefit of Bell Canada.

Bell Canada is a soulless corporation, and as such they are entitled to be greedy and desirous of making make twice as much money for the same service.

Usage Based Billing is NOT what the CRTC is mandated to do.

The CRTC exists expressly to regulate soulless telecommunication giants so they can’t double costs to Canadians for no reason beyond corporate greed.

Usage Based Billing will compromise or eliminate both access and affordability. The CRTC has no excuse for giving Bell Canada carte blanche to gouge the taxpayers they are supposed to represent. This CRTC regulation is in direct contravention of their own stated objectives of the Telecommunications Act.

This is what the CRTC is supposed to do on behalf of all us nobodies:

According to the CRTC’s own website, the CRTC is supposed to:

  • CRTC Mandate: ….ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.
  • Broadcasting: ….ensures that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high-quality Canadian programming….
  • Telecommunications ….ensures that Canadians receive reliable telephone and other telecommunications services, at affordable prices.

CRTC Website: About the CRTC

The CRTC is incompetent, or the CRTC is corrupt. It doesn’t really matter which because the result is the same.

The point is that they are not only NOT supposed to do harm to Canada the CRTC is supposed to protect Canadian interests.

And this ruling will unquestionably harm Canada. At minimum CRTC is not doing their job.

And this will harm Canada how?

The increased cost means that Canadians will be paying much more than citizens of other countries to access the internet.

The costs to Canada will include (but not be limited to) Canadians paying to:

  • receive spam in their email,
  • see advertisements on websites,
  • or to upgrade Windows.
  • Job seekers may not be able to access jobs requiring online response.
  • School web access will be underused as families may not be able to afford the bandwidth.
  • Grandmothers downloading photos may be forced to choose between internet access and dinner.
  • The people who can barely afford to get online now will find it much more difficult when the cost is so much higher.

Economic damage done to Canada, although more difficult to quantify, will happen nonetheless. For instance:

  • Research and development will not be undertaken by scientists, inventors and web developers because of exorbitant cost constraints not faced by scientists, inventors and web developers in other countries.
  • Many Canadian Arts start-ups will not happen because suddenly Canadian graphic designers, artists, musicians and writers will no longer be able to avail themselves of the low or no-cost internet that will still be available to the other artists, writers and musicians in the rest of the world. Without this means of promoting their work in the face of exorbitant internet charges, many budding talents will be lost to Canadian culture.
  • Canadian IT Businesses who have already invested in websites dependent on high traffic counts neccesary to generate advertising revenue may find themselves floundering and failing in the face of a drastically reduced Canadian customer base. The artists, writers and musicians who do manage to commission websites or contract with hosting sites, will still have a much harder time connecting with their potential audience because the audience will need to be more careful in how they use the internet due to exorbitant usage costs not faced by consumers in other countries.

This economic damage won’t just impact on internet users, it will impact on all of Canada. Economically. In the midst of a recession.

Since the news media isn’t reporting this, we need to spread the word because the word MUST spread.

The petition to has slowed to a trickle. I think most of the people who know about Usage Based Billing have already signed it. But it is still very important to get more signatures. Hitting the 10,000 mark would be a big enough story that the major news outlets would not be able to ignore it without losing credibility.

But in the mean time, since the major news outlets aren’t telling anyone, WE must be the ones to pass it on.   It’s time for us nobodies to reach out and touch someone.  Individually none of us have the reach to spread the news to very many people at all. But if we all took the time to tell just a few people, the story would get around.

Write a letter to your Member of Parliament.   If you don’t know who that is, you can find out at :Members of Parliament. Snail mail to elected officials is still free.

If anyone needs to borrow bits from the Stop Usage Based Billing blog to use in any letters, everything in this blog is in the public domain. So feel free to help yourself if any of what I’ve written will help. Also, the UBB Glossary is pretty good reference material.

Another way ordinary Canadians can tell total strangers about Usage Based Billing is through writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Smaller newspapers, even free ones have an audience. Even if it doesn’t get published, at least somebody will read it. And if they don’t publish, you can always send it along here and I will publish it.)

I’ve signed up with where I’m starting a StopUBB group at

Canadians need to find out about this before the damage is done.   Do what you can.

So please, pass it on!

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Confusing Canadian Corporate Ownership: Who owns Who?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 27, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

One reader asked why I didn’t spell out the corporate relationships I meant when I referred to “incestuous relationships between our major media carriers and broadcasters” in my last blog post “Usage Based Billing” .

Having read varying claims of corporate “overlap”, but lacking factual authority I was reluctant to go on record to say who owned who.

The Corporate Dance

The problem is a common one for ordinary people in the 21st Century as corporations merge or buy and sell one another. Who owns who can change quickly so unless you’re paying attention– and we all have lives, right?– it’s easy to be confused. My “local” newspaper has been bought and sold so many times in the last few years that I have no idea which giant media corporation currently owns it.

This corporate dance makes it difficult for us lowly consumers to know who we are dealing with. How can we know if there is even a possibility of collusion among related corporations. I don’t think it is deliberate corporate strategy, although it is certainly a happy byproduct for many corporations who would prefer to keep some of their actions in the shadows.

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Neigh: from the horse’s mouth

But now I have it from the horse’s mouth (or at least the GLOBE AND MAIL’s):

Report on Business: Bell takes TV fight to court to escape regulators’ squeeze – Monday, Mar. 30, 2009

Bell owns 15 per cent of CTVglobemedia, which is the parent company of CTV and also owns The Globe and Mail.

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

Saying little about Usage Based Billing

And confirmation of the CTVglobemedia roster is happily provided on the CTVglobemedia Website Home Page

CTVglobemedia Inc. is Canada’s premier multimedia company with ownership of CTV, Canada’s #1 television network, and The Globe and Mail, Canada’s #1 national newspaper. CTV Inc. owns and operates 27 conventional stations across the country, with interests in 32 specialty channels, including Canada’s #1 specialty channel, TSN. CTVglobemedia also owns the CHUM Radio Division, which operates 34 radio stations throughout Canada, including CHUM FM, Canada’s # 1 FM station.


So there is a definite connection between Bell Canada and CTVglobemedia. Bell Canada owns 15% of CTVglobemedia.

Now really, 15% doesn’t sound like very much at all. Until you look at how incredibly massive CTVglobemedia actually is. I would venture a guess that Bell Canada is probably the single largest shareholder. If that’s true, it would mean that Bell Canada would in fact have a very large say indeed in the policy of this gigantic media content provider.

So CTV News, “the most-watched national newscast in Canada” is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

So The Globe and Mail, “Canada’s most-read daily national newspaper” is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

So CHUM FM, “Canada’s # 1 FM station”, which also operates “34 other radio stations throughout Canada”, is going to be reluctant to say anything negative about Bell Canada.

They are supposed to be in the business of covering the news. But because this issue may be unflattering to Bell Canada, these news outlets have a huge conflict of interest. Due to economic considerations, given the choice, they would prefer to not cover this issue at all.

So they haven’t….   and this screen capture I was sent tells the story:

According to Google

According to Google

This is why the small number of Canadians who are even aware of Usage Based Billing have only found out “too late.”

And most Canadians still don’t even know about Usage Based Billing.

And that is why we have to keep speaking up.  If there is enough outcry, what passes for news media in Canada will HAVE to cover this story or lose all credibility.

And really, Usage Based Billing is just the tip of the iceberg. The reason that there are so many serious problems with the Canadian Telecommunications Industry today is because the CRTC has NOT been doing its job. Canadians need to get informed, so at the very least they can sign the petition!
5843 signatures and counting

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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 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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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


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.


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.”


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 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.


Telecommunication Companies


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.


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.


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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Dissolve the CRTC?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 20, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Here’s an interesting link that was sent to me from two different sources (thanx Joan & Bob):

Scrap The CRTC, Petition Urges

Interesting. The CRTC has been behaving in ways I consider to be questionable for a very long time. This is not the first time that they’ve pandered to large corporation like Bell Canada. So maybe the time has come. Nice article– thank you CBC.

So I checked out the website Dissove The CRTC for this:
I found myself agreeing with the petition. At the time of writing, they had 2080 signatures. Cool.

I even posted a comment in the sectionHow do we ensure there is a new, balanced commision?

This is what I wrote:

Submitted by Laurel L. Russwurm on Thu, 08/20/2009 – 12:44. New

new and balanced

I would think that a key to creating a balanced commission would involve recruiting members who are not former Bell Canada employees.

It seems to me that Canadian consumers should be represented, since we are supposed to be “helped” by this type of regulation. How about representation from across Canadian society.

And it might be interesting to institute some kind of interactive forum which would allow consumers to provide their input directly.

One thing that really makes me angry is that I only found out about UBB — like most Canadians, and those of us who even know about UBB are still sadly a minority– after it was a “done deal”. Most people won’t know until they get the bill. The CRTC or any successor organization should NOT be allowed to quietly change our world without telling us until it is too late.

Now that I’ve found this site I’m off to blab about it on my dedicated blog:

This is what the CRTC is supposed to do:



Canadian Telecommunications Policy
(from telecommunication act. Every CRTC decision must be in accordance to these principles)

7. It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives

(a) to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions;

(b) to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;

(c) to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications;

(d) to promote the ownership and control of Canadian carriers by Canadians;

(e) to promote the use of Canadian transmission facilities for telecommunications within Canada and between Canada and points outside Canada;

(f) to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective;

(g) to stimulate research and development in Canada in the field of telecommunications and to encourage innovation in the provision of telecommunications services;

(h) to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services; and

(i) to contribute to the protection of the privacy of persons.

–courtesy of the Facebook group Canadians Against Usage Based Billing

Obviously Usage Based Billing is contrary to what the CRTC is supposed to be doing. So maybe it IS time for some big changes.


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