interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Minister of Industry’

Broadband Power for the People?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 18, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

The Internet Billing Upheaval in Canada

By Arthur Czuma

CRTC logo
The year 2011 appears destined for revolutions. As Egyptians, Libyans, and others demonstrate across the Middle East and North Africa, Canadians are unleashing a quieter storm of their own. Hundreds of thousands have signed an online petition that calls for rescinding a new Internet billing policy that would eliminate price caps and bring usage-based charges. Striking the policy would help protect the interests of Canadian consumers – and the government seems to be listening. A senior government official indicated that if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not reverse its controversial ruling, then the Cabinet would do so.

New Per-Gigabyte Charges

The policy, which would take effect on March 31, centers on the amount of data that consumers can view or download and for what expense. Not surprisingly, it’s the bigger ISPs that support the new fees supported by the policy. Many have already been charging users in accordance with how much data they access – and now, the new law would have smaller ISPs do the same. That’s because smaller ISPs lease bandwidth from larger telecommunications firms such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and Shaw Communications. Despite their small size, the lesser-known ISPs (Internet service providers) have typically been providing both greater bandwidth and lower fees than have the bigger ISPs such as Bell and TELUS.

Small ISPs Scoff at “Wholesale” Rate

Netflix logo
The larger telecom firms are mandated by government to lease their bandwidth to smaller ISPs and resellers. However, until now, they were prohibited from passing per-gigabyte fees on to these customers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has attempted to placate small providers by granting them a 15% discount on cable and telecom companies’ retail rates – but the small ISPs are less than impressed with this wholesale rate. In fact, many regard it as just another retail price. From the perspective of small business, the discount is hardly compensation for the new power imbalance: it merely slows the journey toward an Internet oligopoly or monopoly.

The large companies, in turn, cite their right to manage their networks – and they claim that flat-rate Internet pricing is no longer viable. Bell Canada raised the issue in 2009 as iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and other online video and video game providers contributed to rapid growth in online traffic. But that’s a hard argument to swallow: according to the CRTC’s own data, just as some large providers have been charging for “excessive” traffic for years, smaller ISPs have offered plans with literally hundreds of times the bandwidth, if not unlimited service, at a lower cost.

Tony Clement

Minister of Industry, Tony Clement

Canadians Take Action

The question of exactly what is the just balance between fostering competition and granting corporate rights will always be up for debate. For now, however, it seems that Canadians have drawn a line in the sand. In addition to more than 465,000 having signed a “Mind the Cap” petition online, tens of thousands have written to the Minister of Industry to protest the imposition of usage-billed Internet billing. And as back-up, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, a group of more than 20 ISPs, is considering its legal options if the Conservative government does not revoke the CRTC ruling. A senior official acknowledged that the billing is “a bread-and-butter issue” and would be treated as such.

Canadian Flag

The Numbers

Many Canadians currently have Internet plans that charge for using an excess of 25 gigabytes per month. That’s equivalent to watching about five Netflix movies or downloading about six video games. It’s certainly not enough for many people’s entertainment needs, nor is it sufficient to help get a small business established or draw innovative services. For instance, a data cap would stymie the expansion of Netflix, the online video company that recently started offering unlimited movie rentals for about C$8 per month.

A Contagious Revolution?

By striking down the decision, the government will enable the small ISPs to remain competitive and thereby help bring a variety of affordable Internet options to Canadians. At the same time, eliminating caps will help attract innovative digital entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy. It’s inspirational – and if US Americans would pay attention, perhaps the Canadian revolution could spread stateside. Regardless of their political stripes, fair Internet pricing is something that just about every consumer can stand for.



Distributel logo
About the author

Arthur Czuma is a writer and consultant for several Ontario-based businesses including Distributel, a local ISP.



It’s not over yet.

Usage Based Billing has NOT been cancelled, only postponed.

The CRTC is not doing their job, but rather doing a disservice to Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 15027 signatures.

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

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

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



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

Overturn the CRTC Ruling

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 29, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

This ruling means that Canadian Internet rates will rise dramatically.

Funny thing is, since I’ve been with TekSavvy for a long time, the grandfather clause it may very well make UBB a non-issue for my family. At least at first.

Canadian Flag CC-BY lothlaurien.ca

Even so, Usage Based Billing will impact on all of Canada.

It doesn’t matter if you can afford it or not. It will affect Canada’s use of the Internet.

Usage Based Billing will change how Canadians use the Internet.

Canada is composed of a wildly dispersed and diverse group of citizens. Our country has maintained a mosaic culture in spite of the fact that our American Cousins opted for a melting pot approach.

Instead of one large shared American Dream, Canadians have as many dreams as we need. That may well be a big part of why Canadians have so enthusiastically embraced the Internet. The ease of Internet access has allowed Canadians to share, celebrate and embrace our differences. The past decade has brought us the beginnings of a golden age of Canadian culture undreamt of in the era when I grew up. Back in those dark days Canadians were searching in vain for the “Canadian Identity”. The fact that it no longer even comes up is a sign of cultural health. The Internet allows Canadian artists to distribute their work both at home and abroad with an ease never before possible. This is a priceless benefit to all Canadians, rich, poor, strong, weak, new immigrants, old immigrants, and first nations… we’re all in this together.

Right now, at this moment, Canada is uniquely placed to continue as we have been, leading the world in making use of the Internet to the great benefit of Canadian Culture and Economy.

This isn’t to say there aren’t problems. There are.

The backbone Internet carriers have chosen not to reinvest much if any in the infrastructure, so what was once cutting edge technology fifteen years ago is now 15 year old technology. Canadians are faced with mediocre Internet service. Our premium priced fastest speeds are laughable in most of the rest of the world. The prices Canadians pay for connectivity are cutting edge, but what we get in return is mediocre service.

And that’s BEFORE implementation of Usage Based Billing.

Usage Based Billing will make the price Canadians pay for Internet access unquestionably the highest in the world.

This is unacceptable.

The CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Mandate

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.

CRTC Role in Regulating Broadcasting and Telecommunications Systems

More than a year ago I wrote letters to the Prime Minister and The Honourables Moore and Clement. The eventual response I received from the PMO was:

“We have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to the office of the Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. His office is in the best position to respond to the issues you have raised. ”

The response that took the PMO five months to craft:

The CRTC is supposed to regulate according to laws under the purview of Industry Canada, placing it back in Industry Minister Tony Clement’s hands. And we have seen Tony Clement show that bad CRTC decisions can be overturned by the Government, as he demonstrated when he had Cabinet overule the CRTC so WindMobile could set up shop in Canada.

The response I got from Tony Clement in respect of Usage Based Billing was quite promising:

Under the Telecommunications Act, Cabinet can decide to take action in response to a petition by varying (changing) the decision, referring it back to the CRTC for reconsideration or rescinding the decision. Cabinet can also decide not to intervene and let the CRTC decision remain in place. The government’s powers to intervene expire one year from the date of the decision in question. Given that the matter is still under consideration by Cabinet, it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.

—Tony Clement, email excerpt We Interrupt this Prorogue…. January 2010

@TonyClement_MP Tony Clement Thx for the input, but as there is a 90 day appeal period it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. Be well.

They can do it again.

Tell Tony Clement that UBB will be bad for Canada. Postal mail, phone, write, email, tweet… Mr. Clement can be reached in a variety of ways. Tell him what you think about UBB. Tell him this bad ruling needs to be overturned.

It seems many Canadians have been asking Tony Clement about this on Twitter today.

It sounds as though the Honourable Tony Clement was saying that the Indie ISPs have another 90 day appeal period, after which time Bell would have to give 90 day notice to customers. I’ll try to confirm that.

For more information on how and who to write to, this article has a guidelines, tips and addresses for wrote a whole lot of letter writing: Write Letters to Stop UBB The time to write is now.



 

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11075 signatures.

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

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

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

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

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

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

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



 

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »