interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Independent ISP’

Usage Based Billing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 27, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

There is a growing stock of information, articles and commentary about Usage Based Billing online. I’ve been adding links to web pages on this and related subjects in my sidebar. (All links… no ads!)

But reading through some of the online commentary I’ve found some bits that bear repeating, so that’s today’s thing.

It’s interesting to see what happens when the Usage Based Billing issue rears its ugly head south of the border. They actually have competition. And they appear to have Regulation which appears to be beneficial for the consumer. Particularly interesting is that in the US, Usage Based Billing is thought to be a bad thing for the ISPs for precisely the reasons that Bell Canada wants Usage Based Billing

From TELEPHONYONLINE
I’ve heard this before

“ But first, why is usage-based billing a really bad idea?

Consumers don’t get it.
While many understand that a gigabyte is a measure of file size, the average consumer isn’t able to correlate web activities—e.g., downloading movies, uploading photos—with bandwidth usage. And anyone claiming that consumers also don’t understand kilowatt hours might want to think twice before comparing themselves to regulated monopolies.

The bill could be really big.
Even the most eco-ignorant consumer, leaving lights and appliances turned on 24×7, is unlikely to receive a power bill more than two or three times the monthly average. Compare this with the following hypothetical example: a 5Mbps broadband service costs $34.95 per month and carries a 40 gigabyte per month cap. Each gigabyte above the cap costs a buck. Before going on vacation, your teenage son decides to download YouTube (like, the whole site). Assuming the broadband service could actually run at 5Mbps (few operators will admit that it can’t), the bill at the end of the month? $1,637.45, almost 50 times the base price.

Never change the price without improving the product. One of the reasons airlines encountered such stiff headwinds with their checked-luggage policy is that the service wasn’t improved. Bags didn’t arrive more quickly or get lost less frequently. Consumers dislike this, especially where technology is concerned. Although they may talk about fairness, few broadband operators claim that usage-based billing results in a better broadband product, it’s just priced differently. ”
— Kevin Walsh

I found this look at our growing internet need strangely appropriate:

from Slashdot Forum
“Such A SCAM
(excuse the vague “profit” comparison here )
1 – charge per use, people balk ‘ why do i need that internet thing’
2 – make it unlimited flat rate and people love it and flock to sign up
3 – let people get used to it for a decade or so
4 – start overselling to get the last few holdouts
5 – slowly add caps, incrementally so people don’t complain too much
6 – reinstate charges per use now that its an integral part of daily life.

Sounds like drug dealers to me.”
— nurb432, Thursday April 16, 2009

Quite often gems can be found in the online Comments pages.

From the CBC ONLINE: Petition spurs CRTC debate – Comments
“bottom line is : it should be illegal to be the carrier and the content-provider at the same time. Then EVERYONE is on equal footing. The carrier(s) (really, think about that) also should be so heavily regulated that even partial ownership in one and in a content provider should mean a 5 year jail sentence with no chance to buy your way out of it.”
–justcase, 2009/08/22, 2:32 AM ET

When I was first finding out about Usage Based Billing Antonio Cangiano’s blog told me the mechanics of how to complain to the CRTC. Even though it was already “too late” for the CRTC to happily accept submissions, I believe that it is important for Canadians to continue to make their complaints directly to the CRTC, select Tariff as a subject, use File Number # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181. If you want to ensure that your words are heard, you can post them in an online blog, or if you aren’t a blogger, copy your comment to somebody else’s blog or forum online, perhaps even in the Dissolve the CRTC forums

“If Bell were to be successful with their application, ISPs would be forced to change their current offerings, cap internet usage and substantially increase the price of extra Gigabytes per month. In practice, we’d be paying more to get much less, and most people would not go through the hassle of dealing with this, thus opting for Bell – despite their absurds usage limits (60GB per month, are you kidding me?).”
–Antonio Cangiano

One of the things that I especially like about Antonio’s post his very Canadian advice to those of us who are enraged to “please send your polite comments and concerns to the CRTC” Another place ordinary people are talking about Usage Based Billing is michaelgeist.ca:

CRTC should be dismantled
So we have the net neutrality hearings which were dominated by traffic-shaping practices, are we to have another for restrictive bandwith caps? I have had it with the CRTC. Why are former employees of the very organizations they seek to regulate being allowed serve on the CRTC? I mean lately we are seeing opposition to police investigating police as being a problem, should we not see the same concerns in the CRTC?”
–KickingRaven

Bell is effectively choking out competition with the aid of the CRTC.

The CRTC mandated access to the last mile connection to promote competition in the market, which spawned the formation of various businesses to use the network connection to supply their own internet connectivity. It seems that the CRTC has now seen fit to allow these businesses to be squeezed out of the market. This protection of Bell at the expense of competition is not healthy for the future of the internet connectivity in Canada and runs contrary to the purpose of the CRTC and the best interests of Canadian citizens.

What this does is highlight the problems in the CRTC and its inherent internal conflicts in both the Broadcast and Telecom sectors.
Perhaps rather than have these biased myopians deal with future convergence it is time to disband the CRTC and replace them with a body that really understands the big picture and represents the best interests of Canadians.

The CRTC’s interpretation of media convergence would seem to be, all Canadian media access controlled by two or three corporate giants. We are firmly on that road, now just a few gratuitous public hearings away from it being cast in stone.”
–Marcus Coles

Canadian Flag

Forgo politeness in favour of the public good.

And yes, I do know we’re Canadian. And as a rule Canadians don’t like to push our views on each other. Personally, it made me uncomfortable to send a spam-like email to my Canadian friends and family. But the thing to remember is that this is not spam. This is a public service announcement.

It is in your friends’ and family’s best interests to know about this. Usage Based Billing will have a tremendous detrimental impact on every Canadian who uses the internet. So, I know you’re Canadian too, but anything you can do to help fight this fight will be worth it.

You may have noticed the dearth of Usage Based Billing coverage in the traditional media. A huge part of the problem is that the CRTC has allowed incestuous relationships between our major media carriers and broadcasters. So CTV is not likely to speak out against Bell Canada unless forced to. But if there is enough outcry, they will HAVE to cover this story. Fortunately we have CBC online covering the story.

But Canadian consumers have been at a decided disadvantage in this fight because the story has NOT been getting out. A huge part of the problem is that the interested parties conveniently control most of the media in this country. Should Usage Based Billing be implemented, I expect that will only get worse. So maybe we can help save the internet by using it now in any way that we can.

So of course after you’ve signed the petition, encouraging others to follow suit would certainly help.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

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Usage Based Billing: The Misinformation War

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 26, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

It sure seems as if Big Brother is alive and well and living in Canada.

I’m beginning to think the misinformation being spread about Usage Based Billing is deliberate.

So here’s my attempt to address some of the pervasive misinformation I keep finding online. Funny, it’s always spread by anonymous or pseudonymous people.

Misinformation: Bell Canada’s infrastructure was privately funded.

False. Because of Canada’s sheer size, Canadian governments have done things to try to connect us. Once that meant building a railroad from coast to coast. In the early twentieth century, it meant creating a crown corporation called Bell Canada to run wire from coast to coast providing telephone service to Canadians. The Canadian telephone cable infrastructure was created through governmental protection and regulation protected and supported in its deployment, which is why Bell Canada is forced to share this infrastructure.

Bell Canada is only the custodian of the Canadian telephone infrastructure, not the owner of it. The Canadian government could have just as easily set up an independent body to manage the infrastructure. Maybe it’s time.

Misinformation: The Independent ISPs should be reinvesting all their profit in building their own infrastructure.

False. That would be nice but so far all they’ve had time for has been to run an honest business and re-invest every spare nickel in the self defence needed to strategize and battle against whatever the current Bell Canada effort to put them out of business.

Of course if we wanted a level playing field, along with dissolving the CRTC the Canadian government could simply dismantle Bell Canada. How many minutes would Sympatico last in a free market if they had to actually compete?

Misinformation: Internet service is slow because your neighbor is downloading movies.

False. If the internet is slow it is because Bell Canada is deliberately slowing it down by the process they call throttling.

Misinformation: When your neighbor downloads movies or music he is stealing.

False. In Canada peer to peer downloading is legal. Downloading a copyrighted movie would be copyright infringement, but only if the copyright holder doesn’t allow it. Depending on the license, it may be perfectly legal to download movies.

Bell Canada’s “throttling” of the internet actually comes much closer to stealing since customers are forced to pay for bandwidth that they don’t receive.

Misinformation: The Independent ISPs are making huge profits.

False. The huge profits are going to Bell Canada (and the rest of the Big 3) leaving the Independent ISPs to function on the crumbs that are left. And still, they provide better deals and better service and make a reasonable profit.

Misinformation: The internet is getting full. It will clog up and crash.

False. This is an urban doomsday legend that has been around pretty much as long as there’s been an internet. Sometimes referred to as the exaflood it is basically a fallacious prediction that the internet will come crashing to a halt because there is not enough space for everything we are using it for. This is used to justify inflationary pricing. Like for instance Usage Based Billing. In fact, if the Internet were full, there wouldn’t be any room in it for Bell’s inflationary practice of throttling.

Misinformation: There is a lot of competition in the Canadian internet market.

False. This one is often used to explain why the CRTC does not do its job. There is some competition. The small internet companies went into business to provide a service to Canadian customers. I’m willing to bet that setting up as an Internet Service Provider is not cheap. But those who have went into it in good faith, naïvely assuming that government watch dog (the CRTC) would at least keep things fair. If Usage Based Billing is actually implemented, most, if not all, will suffer severe economic reverses and may not be able to stay in business.

If that is allowed to happen it would be the end of competition, leaving the field to the Big 3. Aka monopoly.

Mudslinging, ad hominem attacks, name calling or otherwise trying to discredit the opposition by malicious innuendo is another generally used tactic when there is little to say for the position you’re defending.

Remember: Just because it’s in writing doesn’t mean it’s true.

The petition is at 5593 signatures!
http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

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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

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.

Canada

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.

CanCon

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.

Carrier

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

CRTC

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?

Deregulation

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.

dsl

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

GAS

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.

ISP

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.”

Regulation

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

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.

Telcoms

Telecommunication Companies

Telus

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.

Throttling

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.

VoiP

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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