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(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘CBC’

UBB is a Non Partisan “Ripoff”

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 20, 2011

CBC logo

No Usage Based Billing

Today CBC online had a tiny article Extra billing for internet use a ‘ripoff’: NDP

I posted a comment, of course:

The CRTC’s Usage Based Billing ruling allows Bell to artificially inflate the costs of the Internet of Bell’s own competition: The Independent Internet Serivice Providers.

The Indie ISPs provide the ONLY meaningful Internet competition. This ruling, intended to reduce Canadian Internet use via economic traffic management will seriously jeopardize their very existence.

Interestingly, the article says:

“Primus and Shaw have said they will begin passing on higher fees to their customers.”

Thing is, Primus will be hit with the UBB increase because they connect through Bell GAS.

Shaw on the other hand, is a cable ISP and as such is unaffected,
It sounds like they are simply taking advantage of the public confusion, since most Canadians don’t realize that this UBB increase doesn’t impact on cable, unless triggering cable ISP greed counts.

Somehow I’m not surprised to see a Cable ISP like Shaw trying to fool their customers into thinking this forces them to raise the prices.

The biggest problem with UBB is still that most Canadians consumers don’t understand it. And won’t even know about it until we get the bills.

How can you reduce bandwidth when you don’t know what bandwidth is?

That is, of course why the CRTC is supposed to exist: to ensure Canadians are protected and not gouged by rich and powerful corporations like Bell. Except the CRTC isn’t doing their job.

Shaw will be charging UBB, but this has nothing to do with the CRTC UBB ruling, except as misdirection. As a cable ISP Shaw is totally unaffected by the UBB ruling.

[Thanks to @yurechko for the link!]

Charlie Angus, NDP MP

Charlie Angus, NDP MP

Some of the comments are knocking the NDP because Charlie Angus was the impetus of this CBC coverage. Charlie Angus is one of the few politicians who understands this. The Internet and the technology is so new that most of our elected representatives don’t get it either. That isn’t uncommon, it seems to be equally true around the world. Governments tend to depend on what Industry tells them. After all– they’re the experts. Thing is: they are also a very special interest group.

“When I buy a new television or washing machine, the hydro company doesn’t charge me more. I still pay the same rates. All the money Canadians have been paying for infrastructure that was obsolete more than a decade ago doesn’t seem to be going into upgrading, (else we would have state of the art internet capability) but into providing Bell with the capital to buy CTV.

Paying UBB to Bell is like paying a premium to the seed company for a loaf of bread.

It’s already been paid paid for. This is an extra level of pricing designed to penalize Canadians for using the Internet.

This is NOT a partisan issue. The biggest problem is that most of our elected representatives in all of the parties are just as unaware as most Internet users about what this means.

UBB will hurt the whole Canadian economy, no matter what party you support. We need to Stop UBB before it starts.”

—my second comment on Extra billing for internet use a ‘ripoff’: NDP

Canada does need a regulator, but not one that behaves as a sock puppet for the industry it is supposed to regulate, as the CRTC does. That’s why the CRTC needs to be dissolved or at minimum reformed.

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 11729 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.

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email:

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email:

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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

There are no bandwidth hogs

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 16, 2011

[note: I’m supposed to be offline getting my novel ready for publication, but I had to respond to this recurring red herring that came up again in UBB Questions.]No Usage Based Billing

There has been an ongoing effort made to convince consumers that bandwidth consumption is expensive.

It shouldn’t be.

The story goes that your neighbor’s high bandwidth use somehow comes out of your pocket.   To support this, they often cite the example of a buffet restaurant.  

The fact is that bandwidth consumption does not impact on actual cost. Whether you use 1GB of bandwidth or 300GB of bandwidth the real costs are the same.

That’s why Bell and Rogers entered the Internet market offering unlimited bandwidth. The only REAL cost of the Internet is infrastructure.

Once in place bandwidth consumption costs virtually nothing. (maintenance, electricity) If Bell is having problems in bandwidth provision, it would be because they have been taking record profits without bothering to reinvest in infrastructure. Canada used to be an Internet leader but isn’t any longer, because Bell has not upgraded.

The only “hogs” are the corporations who are already charging Canadian extortionate prices for something that costs them next to nothing.

Think about it: are you using the same computer you had ten years ago? Fifteen years ago? Even if you are, you will have upgraded parts of it.

Yet Bell has not upgraded their infrastructure in even longer.

Which is why the top speeds Bell can offer customers is in the tens of Megabytes per second (Mbps), while Internet users in other parts of the world routinely get speeds measured in the hundreds of Mbps.

So, while Canadians who use the Internet services we pay for are characterized as “hogs”, and throttled if we use the Internet service we pay for at peak times, the speeds we pay for are rarely (if ever) what we get, and the costs have been going up to where we are now.

[note: Bell’s definition of non-peak time is when most Canadians are either (a) sleeping or (b) at work]

Before UBB is is even implemented Canadians pay top rates for mediocre Internet access. The excessive rates Canadians already pay would have more than underwritten Internet infrastructure upgrades. But so long as the CRTC will grant Bell their every wish on the backs of consumers and the Canadian economy, Bell doesn’t have to upgrade.

This is why Canada’s Internet service is in freefall. Even though upgrading the Canadian infrastructure to provide such vast improvements in service and catch us up to the rest of the world, it would cost much less now than it did then. Remember when a new state of the art home computer system used to cost around $3,000 ? Today it’s more like $500.

That the CRTC believes that there is a “the potential negative outcome of high-consuming bandwidth end-users” is indicative of their incomprehension of the Internet.

The CRTC is simply not doing it’s job.

PIAC’s report principally recommends that “policy makers and the regulator stop trying to make decisions based on untested economic theories and make sure that markets actually work for consumers”. ‘

Tele-management: Unproven economic models hurting Canadian consumers

You can download a PDF of PIAC’s full report here. (Note to PIAC: it would be far more accessible if it were made available in an Internet friendly format, like say, HTML.)

The CRTC’s UBB ruling isn’t simply a mistake, it’s an indication of CRTC disfunction. If implemented, UBB will do active damage to Canada’s ability to compete in the global digital economy. That’s bad.

We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11674 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.

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email:

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email:

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

crtc speed matching saga

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 31, 2010


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

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

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

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

Vertical Canadian Flag

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

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

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

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

Hardly sounds fair to Canadian consumers.

Surprise surprise.

reactions to the crtc ruling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are two separate issues.

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

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

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

Bell VIDEO Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—CBC: Small internet providers get higher speeds: CRTC

the crtc says:

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

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

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

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

Wires at Bell Mobility

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

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

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

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

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

The CRTC protects consumers how…?

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

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email:

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email:

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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

Parody: Downfall

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 23, 2010

Canadian Copyright

Johnny Wayne holds a brush under his nose to compliment his Hitler Hairdo as Frank Shuster reads from the script at a CBC microphone

the past

Growing up in Canada, had I thought about it at all, it would never have occurred to me that parody was not protected under Canadian copyright law. After all, parody has long been a major staple of Canadian comedy. Who could forget the classic CBC comedy specials featuring the famed Canadian comic duo Wayne and Shuster?

Wayne and Shuster were parody. Generations of Canadians grew up laughing at their comedy.

Who could possibly forget Johnny Wayne in Spock ears…?

Or a a bald Frank Shuster captaining the Love Boat…?

Wayne and Schuster satirized, lampooned and parodied anything and everything over the course of their career which spanned decades. In those days, producers of the American television programs that Wayne and Shuster parodied probably had no idea that Canadian copyright law was any different than American copyright law which does allow parody. It would never have occurred to any of them that they could have sued the CBC on the basis of Wayne and Shuster content. In those days the big media companies were just happy Wayne and Shuster gave them such great free publicity.

It is absurd that parody is NOT protected under Canadian copyright law

Canadians have contributed a vast amount to the world of humour over the years. The fact that parody is not protected in Canada is probably one reason why so many Canadians in the funny business have emigrated south. Yet Canadians are always willing to laugh at ourselves and our foibles through parody. Parody helps us let off steam so we don’t take to the streets and storm the Bastille.

Yet in today’s world Canadians reckless enough to who commit parody in Canada expose themselves to legal penalties for copyright infringement.

“the” parody meme

There is a powerful scene in a 2004 German movie called Der Untergang in the original German, more familiarly known to English speakers the world over under the name Downfall. This one scene from this film is quite probably the single most re-mixed bit of video in the history of the world.

The first time I saw a Downfall parody re:mix it was lampooning ill advised Canadian government activities.   But that was not the last time I saw a Downfall (Der Untergang) parody. There have been many many more.

I had never even heard of Constantin Film or Downfall (Der Untergang) before the subtitled parodies of began surfacing on YouTube a couple of years ago. I think that’s probably true for most of the world’s population outside of Germany.

But over the last couple of years this one Downfall scene has been subtitled, and subtitled, and subtitled again, and uploaded to YouTube, to illustrate a wide variety of issues and causes. Some are political minefields, while others are purely frivolous, like this anti Comic MS font Downfall parody.

But even though parody has been protected under American law for many years, the American DMCA allows take down notices on the basis of mere allegations. Contrary to the body of law that came before, this reversal puts the onus of defense on the accused, and allegations of infringement are treated as proof, and it YouTube seems to pull videos at any rights holder request, whether under DMCA or not.

This puts the accused in the dubious position of guilty until proven innocent. This also means the rights holders can censor parody by saying it copyright infringement.

MIT Free Culture has created an internet research project called YouTomb, to track videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. You can see their Constantin Film Produktion GmbH results here.

A few days back UK blogger Glyn Moody passed along an online article warning of that Constantin Film the company that made Downfall decided to take action against these parodies.

“Also, someone really needs to make a video about Hitler being upset that Constantin Film is DCMAing Hitler parodies.”

MG Siegler, Techcrunch: Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies

Of course, in true internet fashion, the reaction to this is, naturally enough, a parody. I learned about this new parody clip, easily the funniest parody version I’ve yet seen, from a Malaysian friend who was heard about it from a New Zealand friend who was ReTweeting the Electronic Freedom Foundation. I hope it stays on YouTube as long as possible. Because not only is it funny, it makes some excellent points about copyright. In the interim, by linking to it here I may help a few more folks see it: The Downfall Parody in response to the Downfall Parody take-down notices

I can certainly understand that the film makers who crafted this ultra serious historical film Der Untergang might have a hard time accepting the fact that what is probably one of the most powerful scenes in the film has been transformed into a re:mix parody meme. At the same time, this has enormously raised the visibility of both the film and the film company on an international level. I know at least one person who intends to purchase a copy of Downfall (Der Untergang) specifically because the scene that has been parodied so many times is clearly so well done.

Another other notable copyright reform parody was created by E.F.F. director Brad Templeton, whose parody Hitler, as “Downfall” producer, orders a DMCA takedown promoting parody and the Electronic Freedom Foundation was actually taken down, but is now back online. You can read all about it in his blog Brad Ideas. At the end of Brad’s film he gives a link to the E.F.F. Fair Use page

I hope that Constantin Film decides to change their position on this issue. Clearly, they have a name that is now known around the world because of this much parodied film clip. And although some factions of the American Government are pushing for A.C.T.A., United States copyright law does clearly protect parody. Should this go to court, not only will Constantin Films have alienated a vast potential audience, but they are likely to spend a fair bit of money prosecuting an un-winnable court case.

what could Constantin Film do?

special features text graphic

The best idea I’ve heard for a  Constantin Film solution was Canadian Bob Jonkman‘s suggestion to release a Downfall YouTube Special Edition. Naturally this DVD set would contain the original film in German, with subtitles in all appropriate languages. The special features would include all the YouTube parodies.

Perhaps Constantin Film could even put together a special interactive “make your own captions” feature that would allow you to caption your own and upload it to YouTube. I’m not sure if that would be technically feasible, but if it was I’d guess it would be a huge moneymaker.

The beauty of a strategy like this is that it would not alienate a potential global audience, but would instead sell them a lot of DVDs.   Once people have bought the DVD, they are rather likely to watch the actual film.

Win-Win, don’t you think?

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

What Century is the CRTC in?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 24, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

On Monday March 22nd, 2010 the Toronto Star reported the long awaited “fee for carriage” results in the article CRTC backs TV over cable in fees dispute: Regulatory agency avoids imposing ‘fee for carriage’; leaves final decision up to Federal Court

London, star of the 1980's Canadian TV series "The Littlest Hobo"

My favorite CRTC "fee for carriage" commentator

What is happening here? Why did the CRTC spend a great deal of time and money providing a forum for the “fee for carriage” dog and pony show?   Dog is right… one of the Twitter commentators was HoboLittlest If you read Hobo’s Twitter feed you can clearly see that he has gone to the dogs.

Remember all the attack ads and finger pointing where each side accused the other of greed and the broadcasters declared that “local TV Matters”? That led up to the CRTC hearings which presented an opportunity for the Cable/Satellite carriers to duke it out with the TV Channels/Networks.

The CRTC decided this “fee for carriage” issue by saying the cable companies have to start paying the TV networks. Surprisingly, the CRTC has said that payments needn’t be in cash, they may instead choose to barter. Wow. Barter. Wonder how Revenue Canada… ooops, the Canada Revenue Agency feels about that?

passing the buck

Then the CRTC says the “final decision” must be made by the Federal Court as the CRTC might lack authority to make the decision.

So the TV broadcasters think they’ve got it made in the shade.

Well, everyone except for the CBC.   Because the CRTC quasi-decision specifically excluded the CBC from what CBC perceives will be a lucrative revenue stream.


Then a bad situation was made worse when the CRTC told broadcasters they must invest a percentage of the gross in Canadian Content.   Presumably funds will come out of the “new income” from the cable companies.   Except CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein never exactly explained how that would work if the new payments was made by barter.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the CRTC went on to reduce the total Canadian Content requirement by 5%.

I believe that Canadian Content regulations have turned out to be a very bad thing for Canadian Culture. If we must have Canadian Content laws, then the percentage must be high, at LEAST 80% for TV programming.

Scrapping CanCon altogether would be by far the best solution.

But the worst possible solution is to mandate a middling amount of CanCon and then chip away at it bit by bit.   Which is of course the situation we actually have.

What is the CRTC playing at– they have decided to dictate what programming broadcasters must fund.   Excuse me?

I thought the CRTC was supposed to regulate telecommunications for the benefit of Canadian consumers.   Yet here they are dictating programming decisions.   It isn’t the CRTC’s job to decide what programming is essential for Canadian audiences. It’s none of their business.

CRTC logo

The only thing the CRTC seems intent on doing is avoiding blame.

What the CRTC is failing to do — again — is protect the interests of Canadian consumers.

There is only one pool of consumers in Canada. In the real world, the only people who will be stuck with additional fees will be the beleaguered Canadian consumer. Again. In a recession. I guess the CRTC hasn’t noticed that there is a recession on from their ivory tower.

What should the CRTC be doing? Certainly not allowing the price gouging that will inevitably come out of this. What they need to do is enter the 21st Century.

Cable TV, like Internet Service Providers, should not be providing content. Cable/Satellite should be the TV industry version of “dumb pipes”.
In this digital world, there is no earthly reason why consumers are forced to pay for 50* channels in order to get the two that they actually want.   Why do we have to subsidize forty-eight channels to get two?   Just think how great the two good channels would be if they got all of that money.

The cable companies have the technology to deliver individual channels, and in fact have had this capability for quite some time. It should not cost consumers more than $10 per month per channel that they actually want. But instead most Canadian families are paying between $50 and $200 per month for the tiered “packages” the are forced to subscribe to in order to get the few channels that they actually watch.

I really don’t get it. Why does the CRTC exist? As I understand it, the CRTC is supposed to protect consumers, because we do not have the lobbying power of the big monopolies. Yet instead CRTC regulations have led to Canadian consumers subsidizing a great deal of programming that they don’t want or need. This is ridiculous.

The CRTC is mouthing platitudes about “market forces” resolving these issues. Yet there are no true market forces in play here. The only reasonable way that “market forces” could possibly be the deciding factor would be for consumers to pay only for the content they consume.

Canadian Flag

Which is certainly not the case now.

The decline in broadcast television is largely due to the broadcaster’s reluctance to restructure for the 21st century. Instead of working out new business models, they have instead asked the CRTC for what is essentially a bailout. And the CRTC is giving it to them — at the expense of the Canadian consumer.

Why is the Canadian television audience shrinking? Many Canadians have given up on cable. Like me. Four years ago we decided the cable bill was just too high for what we were actually watching. Let me tell you, it is a lot cheaper to buy the DVDs you are actually going to watch than pay for cable that you don’t.

Interestingly enough, there is more to watch online than YouTube.  Did you know that there is an awful lot of original content available legally online.

The cast of Team Epic superheroes posre in front of a skyline including the CN Tower.

Online Canadian programming isn't afraid to set Canadian shows in Canada.

The Internet Canadian superhero series Team Epic is a program that my family watches.   Hey, Canada isn’t exactly new to the superhero game, after all,  Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster created Superman with his partner American writer Jerry Siegel  in 1932

But that’s not all, there are all sorts of other online programming on LIFEFORCE[tv].   There is quite a lot of original made-for-the-Internet programming out there. For free.

But surprisingly there is also an awful lot of online television programming provided direct from — you guessed it — the television broadcasters.

Broadcasters like Global TV

or CBC

or CTV

or CityTV

The CRTC is also responsible for regulating the Internet. Yet the CRTC has allowed the Canadian Internet monopolies (essentially the same cast of characters who own the tv industry) to:

(a) discriminate against certain customers by selectively “throttling” the service these consumers are paying for
(b) deployment of Deep Packet Inspection to achieve this discrimination [DPI is of course illegal in Europe because of the invasion of consumer privacy it allows]
(c) encourage the monopolies to cap customers bandwidth consumption as a means of forcing Canadians to use the Internet less
(d) granted provisional approval of Usage Based Billing (which will likely kill off the fledgling Independent Internet Service Providers)

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Funny how the CRTC is not protecting the interests of Canadian Internet users.

Clearly the CRTC does not understand what is happening in the world of technology. What is worse, they are making absolutely no attempt to understand it.

Isn’t time to dissolve the CRTC?

Canada needs a regulatory body that can understand the technology and regulate in the best interests of Canadians.

What we have is the CRTC which regulates in the best interests of the Media/TV/Internet monopolies. If the CRTC continues down this road Canada’s economy will be in serious trouble.

*I chose “50 Channels” of cable programming as an example. Some people may only have to pay for 25 cable channels in order to get the two that they want to watch, while others might need to pay for seventy. Each cable package is different, but all discriminate against the consumer.


[Note: There will be more on CanCon coming in my new in the wind post later today.]

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

Wind Mobile: The Canadian Government Listened

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 15, 2009


New Kids

No Usage Based BillingYou could have knocked me over with a feather.

The Canadian Government actually listened to Canadians

On Friday Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC decision to deny Wind Mobile the use of the spectrum they purchased. Instead, Globalive’s WindMobile now has the opportunity to roll out their new cel phone service.

Canadian Cel Phone Service

Canadian cel phone costs… ooof.   And have you noticed how every Canadian seems to have at least one cel phone horror story.   I haven’t heard anything good about the state of Canadian cel phone service– except from those who are profiting from the cel phone incumbents.

The Canadian government looked at Canadian Cel Phone service and realized that Canadians were paying through the nose. Our government decided to attempt to remedy the situation by auctioning some cel spectrum on which the incumbents would not be allowed to bid. The point was to introduce new players. The hope was to trigger competition.
Canada Flag
Which could only be good for Canadian consumers.

Vetted by Industry Canada, Globalive’s Wind Mobile was allowed to bid in the spectrum auction— because they had been approved.   They paid their money then went on to lay out piles of cash to set up operations and hire staff and create advertising; they were gearing up to go.

Even before Wind Mobile opened for business strange things began happening in the world of Canadian cel phone service.   Some of the incumbents began changing some of their worst policies.   After all, they were about to be faced with actual competition in the cel phone market.   What a concept!

Canadian consumers were happy…

Of course, the incumbent Cel providers were not.   They complained to their friends at the CRTC.   They said that Wind Mobile is not Canadian enough.

CRTC listened to the complaint, and decided that Wind Mobile was not Canadian enough.   Even though as near as I can tell, Wind Mobile is a Canadian company run by Canadians. They have foreign investment capital. Most businesses require investment capital. Just as most people need financing to buy a home. Just becasue a bank starts out holding the mortgage doesn’t make it the banks’s house.

Even though Wind Mobile had paid the Canadian government millions for the cel spectrum they had won in the auction, as well as spending plenty more for the business start up, suddenly Wind Mobile was in limbo.   Talk began to float around about how the incumbents would now be able to buy the Wind Mobile spectrum   —   at bankruptcy prices.

…thoughts of competition had danced in our heads

Canadian consumers were not happy to have the competition we wanted snatched away.   There was grumbling.   And muttering. Many voices were raised in opposition to this CRTC decision.   Many voices.   For instance, I muttered and grumbled in this very blog.   And I was not the only one.   One of the things I read and heard over and over again were complaints about the lack of “Canadianess” of our Canadian Cel phone providers. (Although some of them operate under more than one name, which may be confusing the CRTC into thinking that there is lots of competition, there are really only 3 Canadian cel providers, the “incumbents”… Bell, Rogers and Telus.
Bell Canada Logo
Although these companies are “Canadian”, Bell Canada, for instance, has shut down much of their operations on Canadian soil in order to set up operations overseas so they don’t need to spend as much money.   (Not that they passed any of this savings along to consumers, you understand.)

Wind Mobile’s head honcho Tony Lacavera fought the CRTC decision.   He gave interviews in the mainstream media so Canadians knew what was happening.   He appealed to Industry Canada. They had after all given him the go ahead, and all the costs Globalive had incurred to start up Wind Mobile were done in good faith.   He took it to the Canadian Cabinet.

[We’re in a recession!   Here are Canadian entrepreneurs bringing a huge investment into Canada.   And the CRTC is telling them to go away?   Do they not live in the same world you and I do?]

Most amazingly of all, our government listened.   Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC ruling Friday December 11th, 2009.

Globalive Welcomes Gov’t of Canada Decision and Prepares to Bring WIND Mobile to Market in time for Christmas.


Imagine my surprise to read this diatribe Telco decision violates Telecommunications Act: Union from Canada’s “largest telecom and media union” criticizing the Canadian Government’s decision.   I would have thought that a union of telecom and media workers would support new investment in Canada’s telecom industry.   Instead they are parroting the Incumbent Cel phone companies.

Am I naive in thinking that a union representing telecom workers would welcome a company that could offer jobs to the many telecom workers who lost their jobs due to downsizing or when Bell moved so much of their operations overseas?   If I was a member of this union I would be wondering whose side CEP is on.

Critics of Mr. Clement’s decision are citing foreign ownership as the problem.

Is foreign ownership bad for Canadian culture?

I have a hard time believing foreign ownership of a phone company could have much impact on Canadian culture.   The only change in our culture I can envision is that griping about our cel phone providers may no longer be a national pastime.

If you want to know about culture, let’s just take a quick peek at the “Canadian Music Industry”. The four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association are: Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada. Please note that all four have “Canada” appended to their names to differentiate them from the non-Canadian mother companies, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music. For decades the Canadian music industry has been dominated by “branch plants” of foreign companies.

Foreign domination of our music industry has been the reality accepted by Canadians since the mid twentieth century.

And let’s not forget that once upon a time the Canadian Parliament passed a special law incorporating a largely foreign owned company– Bell Canada — as a Canadian Corporation.   Isn’t it about time our telecommunication industry got some new blood?

Wind Mobile could hardly do worse than the incumbents.

I don’t know about you, but I still believe one of the best things for Canada would be the dissolution of the CRTC, so
If you haven’t yet: Sign the Petition, check it out at:
10316 signatures

and if you have, tell everyone who will be affected by increased internet costs

stop usage based billing logo

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IGF2009: The Internet Governance Forum Blues

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 16, 2009

Access Controlled poster

Access Controlled poster

This morning Michael Geist tweeted about BBC’s article “UN slated for stifling net debate”, detailing the incident causing the hue and cry which has sprung up about the censorship of the poster at the Internet Governance Forum in Egypt.

The poster was promotional material for the OpenNet Inititiative‘s academic book “Access Comtrolled” on display at the reception held by two of the book’s authors, Ron Deibert and Rafal Rohozinksi at the Internet Governance Forum in Egypt. Apparently “complaints” were made about “The first generation of Internet controls consisted largely of building firewalls at key Internet gateways; China’s famous ‘Great Firewall of China’ is one of the first national Internet filtering systems.”

The book is a global project from the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaboration of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the SecDev Group.

Global Voices Advocacy: IGF2009: #UNfail? by Renata Avila

“1. We were told that the banner had to be removed because of the reference to China. This was repeated on several occasions, in front of about two dozen witnesses and officials, including the UN Special Rapporteur For Human Rights, who asked that I send in a formal letter of complaint.

2. Earlier, the same officials asked us to stop circulating a small invite to the event because it contained a mention of Tibet. They even underlined it in showing it to me. Because the event was just about to start, we said that we would not be distributing any more of these invitations so it was a moot point.

3. We asked repeatedly to see any rules or regulations governing this act. They did not give us any, only referring to the “objections of a member state.”

4. There were in fact many posters and banners in many of the rooms that I attended, including others in our own. The video itself shows us, at one point, taking one of the other posters we have and offering to cover up the original one. They objected to that and told us this banner must be removed.

On another matter of clarification:

The UN officials did not throw the banner on the ground. They asked us to remove it and one of our staff placed it on the ground for us to consider what to do. That’s where we had the discussion. When we refused to remove it, their security guards bundled it up and took it away.

Hope this helps to clarify.

–Ron Deibert’s account of the incident, posted in boingboing comments

My favorite was this comment from Cory Doctorow’s boingboing page:

Antinous / Moderator | #9 | 15:10 on Sun, Nov.15

Why pick Egypt as the venue for a convention on internet governance? Was Mordor booked?

In a statement Reporters Without Borders said: “”It is astonishing that a government that is openly hostile to internet users is assigned the organization of an international meeting on the internet’s future.”

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

[Mordor’s reach was spreading toward the Shire, which was in fact why Frodo and Sam had to head off to fight it. Freedom is always worth fighting for.]

Although it would be breathtakingly easy to point to Egypt as a country where suppression of free speech is endemic, I have to wonder is Canada really any better? The eagerness Canada’s British Columbia government is showing in suppression of free speech in and around the upcoming Vancouver Olympics makes me think it really wouldn’t matter where the Internet Governance Forum was held.

The technological changes to the world brought about by the internet threatens those who forsee an erosion of their power to dominate others. The real problem for them is that the internet makes both supression of free speech and repression of civil liberties more difficult. It’s easier to do bad stuff out of the light of public scrutiny as shown by the flurry of video, articles and blogs about this incident.

This is precisely why net neutrality is so important.

It’s also why Usage Based Billing must not be implemented, since one of the worst things UBB will do to Canada is make the internet less affordable for most Canadian citizens, but even worse, unaffordable for many. Talk about disenfranchisement.

Large version of the Access Controlled poster

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CRTC puts the nails in Canadian Net Neutrality

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 22, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

This is the CRTC Press Release

The CRTC decision doesn’t have a silver lining I can find, in fact they essentially said that usage based billing and caps are good tools to use to fight congestion. All Bell Canada has to do is warn us first, then they can gouge as they please. They’ve deferred making a decision on UBB until after the court challenges are dismissed, but I’m not holding my breath.

Particularly since Bell has never proven internet congestion even exists, this is absurd. CRTC accepts everything Bell says as truth.
Which obviously internet customers do not.

Some new links found in today’s flurry:

Public Interest Advocacy Center: CRTC’s Net Neutrality Decision Rubber Stamps ISPs’ Throttling

“The CRTC has said in this decision that ISPs own your content and own your Internet connection” said Lawford,counsel for a coalition of consumer groups, “You just got owned.”

Much has been made of the Internet Carrier’s “rights”. The only reason that their wire has value, is because it is crosses OUR land to deliver internet service. Governments at the municipal level have given easements to phone and cable providers so that they may cross our land and put their wires and equipment there. This was not done for the corporate benefit but for the public good.

“It approves all of the throttling practices that ISPs currently engage in,” said John Lawford, counsel for the centre. “It requires consumers to prove something funny is going on and consumers don’t have the means to figure out what ISPs are doing and they don’t have the resources to bring that to the commission’s attention.”

CBC: CRTC Net Neutrality Ruling

The CRTC says that Canadians have the right to bring “credible complaints” of throttling. And just how are we supposed to do that? How can you tell?

Will a pop-up appear on my screen telling me that Bell is throttling my internet connection?

Somehow I doubt that. All the average user knows is that it is slower or faster. (In Canada slower or sloooower.) We have no idea of why. Nor do we have any means to find out that I’ve ever heard of.

“Basically the CRTC has left the wolves in charge of the henhouse. “ISPs have been given the green light to shape the traffic on the internet toward their corporate interest. This decision is a huge blow to the future competitiveness of the internet.

“Canada has fallen to the back of the pack in internet service provision and pricing after leading the way for years. This is the direct result of a small band of ISP giants blocking out competition. This decision clears the way for ISPs to squeeze out third-party players who are attempting to provide better price and service options.”
–New Democrat Digital Affairs Critic Charlie Angus, CRTC drops the ball on internet freedom

The Independent ISP’s who have set up Internet Service Provider businesses were just getting established enough to prove a threat to carriers Bell/Telus/Sasktel/Rogers/Shaw. The bad CRTC rulings in favor of Bell Canada “throttling” and Usage Based Billing have put the Independent ISPs in the position of fighting for their corporate lives. These ISPs purchase blocks of bandwidth, which they then redistribute to their own retail customers in packages of their own design. The CRTC rulings have allowed the carriers to interfere with the service received by Independent ISP customers, and when they are allowed to apply additional Usage Based Billing charges to the Independent ISPs retail customers it will likely force them out of business.

Liberal consumer affairs critic Dan McTeague told that alternative broadband business models, from a stronger wholesale regime to the splitting off of networks from the companies that own them, need to be examined.

The government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission have allowed phone and cable companies to call the shots, he said, which has resulted in the country slipping.

“Canada has an abysmal record that reflects absolute neglect,” he said. “We’re looking after a handful that really don’t deserve to have this much power.”

Opposition MPs want action on broadband

Much to my frustration, when I was reading the comments on the CBC throttling story, I was on page 24 when it froze up. I was able to get back in and scroll through to page 20 before it froze. I’ve just spent a couple of hours trying to finish (312 comments… I’m maybe half way through… except for a few obvious plants, the comments are overwhelmingly negative.) Maybe I’ll be able to read that and some other stuff tomorrow, but my connectivity hasn’t been this bad since dial-up, so I’m pretty frustrated today. I’m probably not even going to try to log in here tomorrow, so much of my regular life has been disrupted by all of these nasty things coming to a head at once, and I need to do some serious catching up. I’m probably taking a day or two and hopefully I’ll be able to get the next installment of the alphabet series out.

One of the cool things that WordPress does is it gives bloggers access to some statistics. If someone clicks a link on another site to get here, it may show up in the stats. It also tells me what links people click here. This way, if I get delusions of grandeur I can see that fully half my traffic is really only coming here to watch the IT crowd “this is the internet” clip. (On the other hand when I see people clicking on the disolve the crtc site, or one of the other excellent links in the sidebars, that encourages me.) This is helpful because if someone’s website links here, they may have information I could use, so I’ll go check them out if I can. Today I got an referral from a really enigmatic site, but there’s no way to find out what they’re about from the page i go to. If anyone from is listening, I’m terribly curious. If you can tell me who you are and what you’re about without having to kill me afterward, I’d love to know. Send me email if you want to keep it quiet, but if you want publicity you can either let me know or make a public comment on this. I confess if I hear nothing, I’ll just let it go.

A few more links:

Tom Low-Shang: CRTC Calls This A Decision
Excess Copyright: CRTC Indecision on Net Neutrality
dissolvethecrtc: Summary and analysis of latest CRTC decisions: Traffic management practices and Usage Based Billing

So: speak out, pass the word, do whatever you can to fight this.

The only good thing to come out of this is that we have a whole new whack of people who have noticed this is happening, and as a result, the petition has had a new bunch of signatures.
up to 8729 signatures!

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Stop Usage Based Billing Links

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 18, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

I’m reasonably happy with this blog theme except for the links in the sidebars. I’ve put some hard links in the right sidebar, and up until now I’ve been running an rss feed in the left sidebar to try to catch breaking news. But it’s so hard to read and today one of the links escaped and is running into the rest of the page. Ugh.

The only civilized way I’ve been able to figure out to separate the links is to code it by hand. Coding it by hand (oooh, I’m getting to be such a techie…. rofl) It is a lot of work but looks great. It is definitely worth doing to create an index for the Stop Usage Based Billing blog archives. After all the whole point of the SUBB is to provide reference materials. And reference materials are far more useful when they are easily accessed. So that’s done.

There is an increasing amount of off-target stuff cropping up in the feed as well. But I certainly don’t have time to put in the same work for the rss feed. First it was consumed in spam and now it’s escaping the bounds of the sidebar, So today’s post is some of the useful links that would have been a tiny blue blur in the sidebar but today gets to be actual blog content. Whooee!

Today’s Interesting Usage Based Billing Links

It seems Australia is having similar problems:
Stop The Cap

CBC coverage continues:
MTS, small ISP take internet fight with Bell to court

And more from Australia… kind of makes you wonder. In the land of Dudley Dooright our government doesn’t. But in Mad Max land:
Government demands Telstra split

(Thanx Tom!)

That’s it for new stuff for now. I’ll keep you posted.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Throttling PROVES that the Internet is NOT congested

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 3, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

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

It is simply not true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Throttling: The Ice Cream Parlour Analogy

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

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

Lets try a long distance phone call analogy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

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

Don’t forget:
6325 signatures!

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