interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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



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.
6670 signatures

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 8, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will stop being bold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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