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Posts Tagged ‘MTS Allstream’

Bye Bye UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 16, 2011

 

No Usage Based Billing

Yesterday the CRTC did an about face and reversed the terrible decision to allow Bell Canada to charge Usage Based Billing to the Independent ISP’s customers, effectively pronouncing UBB dead.

Yay.

On the specific decision, the CRTC rejected the UBB model it approved less than a year ago, acknowledging that it was too inflexible and could block independent ISPs from differentiating their services. The issue then boiled down to Bell’s preferred model based on volume and the independent ISPs’ approach who preferred capacity based models. The Commission ruled that capacity-based models are a better approach since they are more consistent with how network providers plan their networks and less susceptible to billing disputes.

With Bell’s preferred approach out of the way, the Commission was left to choose between two capacity models – the independent providers’ “95th percentile” solution and MTS Allstream’s capacity model. The Commission chose a variant on the MTS Allstream model that involves both a monthly access fee and a monthly capacity charge that can increase in increments of 100 Mbps. That model is even more flexible than what MTS proposed, suggesting that the Commission was primarily focused on building in as much flexibility for independent providers as possible. In addition to this model (which the Commission calls an approved capacity model), the large ISPs can continue to use flat rate models which provide for unlimited usage.

Michael Geist, The CRTC’s UBB Decision: Bell Loses But Do Consumers Win?

Although I agree that further changes should be made, I’m not so sure I go along with all of Professor Geist’s suggestions. The CRTC  clearly does not function the way that it should.

The CRTC’s mandate is supposedly to protect consumers.  Looking at the history of UBB it is clear that the CRTC does not.  In practice, consumers don’t even make it onto the their radar at all; the only CRTC concern is the ISPs.

The CRTC continues to allow Bell Canada to deploy:

  • Deep Packet Inspection. This essentially allows Bell Canada total access to all unencrypted Internet traffic. Which means the technology gives Bell the means to read our email, and the CRTC allows this. With zero oversight. The CRTC trusts Bell with their privacy, but I don’t. And although I’m not even a Bell customer, my email is not safe from Bell, because my ISP goes through Bell. This is no more reasonable than giving blanket permission to Canada Post to open postal mail.
  • Gouging Customers. I was aghast that the CRTC didn’t understand that most Canadians pay a lot for mediocre Internet access, and worse, didn’t seem to believe the issue was relevant to their deliberations. Have to move to a different geographical location in order to get an another choice of ISP is not “choice.”
  • Throttling the Internet. This one still boggles my mind today just as much as when I first heard about it. When customers pay for a level of service, and the service provider deliberately impedes that service, providing inferior service than has been contracted for is wrong. And again, Bell is not only does this to their own customers, but to the customers of the Independent ISPs as well. Worse still, Bell decide singles out specific Internet traffic to discriminate against it. The CRTC gave Bell permission to do this, the implication being that is that all encrypted traffic is “Downloaders” It seems to me, even if someone is using the Internet for nefarious means, to illicitly download copyrighted content, say, it should not give an ISP the right to provide less bandwidth than the customer paid for. This argument is flawed; one crime doesn’t justify another.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I grew up in a world where deliberately short changing consumers was considered to be fraud, and when even the government law enforcement officials were required to get a warrant before they read my mail.

These are some of the reasons why I don’t think the CRTC is doing its job of protecting consumers. This could be fixed by making sure that the CRTC reflected its real constituency better. [hint: the CRTC should not be limited to past or present Telecom employees, but should also include consumers.] There shouldn’t have to be a major outcry before the CRTC hears consumer; if the CRTC is going to continue to exist, it needs to be responsive to the public.

If the CRTC isn’t reformed, it should be dissolved and replaced with something that does look out for citizens.

Both Bell and Rogers have far too much control over too many facets of the industries they inhabit. This sure looks like what our American friends might define as “anti-trust.” Where was the CRTC … how did things get this messed up if the CRTC was doing its job?

Rogers is apparently an even worse throttler than Bell, and in fact, “Rogers: The World’s Worst Throttler (Officially)”.

These corporations are not going to behave any better unless compelled to do so. Maybe its time they were broken up; the Internet is an essential service, perhaps it should be administered like any other utility, for the public good rather than the corporate greed.

[Thanks to both Robert & Joan!]

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Cat Joke: Making Light of A.C.T.A.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThe following cautionary cat tale was found in one of the Pirate Party of Canada’s forums.

Pirate Party of Canada logo

Hindgrinder
Re: ACTA Task Force

3 Canadians and 1 American were sitting together watching the Mens Gold Medal Game in Vancouver bragging about how smart their cats were.

The first man was an Internet Service Provider,
the second man was a Copyright Law Professor,
the third man was a New Democrat Member of Parliment, and
the fourth man was a US Corporate Lobbyist.

To show off, the Internet Service Provider called his cat, “Broadband”, do your stuff.”

Broadband pranced over to the computer, logged in as admin and started downloading the entire internet.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Copyright Law Professor said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Public Domain, do your stuff.”

Public Domain went over to the computer, instantly sorted all of what Broadband was downloading and printed off a fair copyright royalties due spreadsheet.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the New Democrat M.P. said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Parlimentarian, do your stuff.”

“Parlimentarian got up slowly to the computer, created a Facebook page, linked it to Broadband and Public Domain, drafted a dozen emails and bill 398, made a YouTube video meowing for transparency from ACTA cat and meowed an indian war dance song.
Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the US Corporate Lobbyist and said, “What can your cat do?”

The US Corporate Lobbyist called his cat and said, “ACTA, do your stuff.”

ACTA jumped to his feet…….

Throttled Broadband’s torrents to a crawl and initiated a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Broadband and Internet Service Provider……..
Scrambled Public Domains online excel sorting rules and shit on the fair royalties due spreadsheet……..
filed an inflated grievance lawsuit for RIAA lost revenue…….
bypassed due process to convict 90% of humans under 40 years old of copyright infringement……
screwed the other three cats and claimed he hurt his back while doing so…….
put in for Corporate Compensation for injury on the job in a foreign country……………and
went home for the rest of the day on paid sick leave…………

Internet Service Provider, Copyright Law Professor and N.D.P. M.P. where last seen pooling their money to buy a dog.

Geist

Angus

Of course, I’m wondering who everyone is…

Copyright Law Professor would have to be Michael Geist.

And it’s more than reasonable to assume that the N.D.P. M.P. would be the most vocal Canadian MP opponent of A.C.T.A. Charlie Angus, but who could the Internet Service Provider be?

talktalk logoIf this was the U.K., it would be talktalk, the brave ISP waging war with the dread Digital Economy Bill (the U.K.’s opening act for A.C.T.A.)

Within the joke, “ISP” couldn’t possibly be Bell Canada or Rogers, since their use of consumer monitoring tools like DPI to help run their empires clearly place them in the pro-A.C.T.A. camp.

MTSallstream logo

So if we’re going to extrapolate the casting for this joke, for Canada the ISP would have to be one of our endangered Independent ISP’s like MTS Allstream or Tek Savvy (you can find a comprehensive listing of Independent Canadian ISPs here).

pseudo FBI Warning

And the U.S. Corporate Lobbyist, well, lobbyists are faceless representatives of the business, or in this case group of businesses in back of a piece of legislation, or in this case a whole body of international legislation.

These businesses have been trying to convince the citizens of the world that we don’t own what we’ve purchased for years. They started by placing supposed FBI warnings on videotapes threatening huge fines for non-commercial infringement. Then the earliest attempts at copy protection (DRM/TPM). Followed by aggressive marketing campaigns directed at the media customer base, in attempts to demonize personal use copying.

Now, in the face of these failed attempts to change global attitudes about copyright and ownership through advertising/propaganda, the copyright lobby seeks to change the laws to force the world to follow their rules.

They’ve been pursuing this war actively on two fronts. First, by lobbying individual countries to criminalize copyright infringement. But lately, this group (dubbed by Michael Geist “The Copyright Lobby”) has gone much further, by convincing the U.S. Government to push the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” which seeks to force the world to change copyright law through this secret treaty on a global scale.

The “Copyright Lobby” is made up of the American led Movie and Music Corporations along with their Interested Associations and Copyright Collectives. Of course this lobby group is attempting to remain faceless. because the real victim in their nefarious activities is their customer base. This is why they are attempting to get governments to do their dirty work, particularly through secret treaties like ACTA. They have the vain belief that they won’t alienate their customers.

The copyright lobby doesn’t have a logo, precisely because the companies they represent are attempting to stay out of the public eye. It’s a thinly veiled secret that the corporation unofficially leading the fight for terrible copyright “reforms” is the same company that once had to be legally compelled to give credit to the animators, actors, writers, musicians, technicians etc. who actually created their movies. Though he hadn’t actually picked up a pencil himself in years, the corporate founder felt that the only name attached to movies made by his corporation should be his own. In those days the law disagreed.

Nearly a century later this same corporation seeks to change the laws of all the world so they can maintain control of a mouse cartoon. Which is why interested parties have created this logo (right) for A.C.T.A.

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

We Interrupt this Prorogue….

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 21, 2010

No Usage Based BillingBoy, was I surprised to be flashed with n email notification from Industry Canada.

(Particularly as I have not always been… er… most charitable to The Honourable Tony Clement.)

However, the email bearing his name bears repeating, so I’ll just pop it in entire:

Subject: Regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services
From:Minister.Industry@ic.gc.ca

Thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns regarding regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services.
The MTS Allstream LogoAs you may be aware, three petitions to the Governor in Council have been filed, appealing several decisions of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Each decision concerns the extent that the large former monopoly telephone companies (e.g., Bell Canada) are required to provide competitors with wholesale services at regulated rates and terms. MTS Allstream has appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2009-34, and is seeking more stringent wholesale rules. Bell and TELUS have each appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Order CRTC 2009-111, and have requested that certain wholesale obligations be removed.
Bell Canada Logo
The public record of these appeals is available under “Gazette Notices and Petitions” on Industry Canada’s Spectrum Management and elecommunications website at ic.gc.ca/spectrum. You will find electronic copies of the petitions, public comments made by interested parties, and links to the CRTC decisions under appeal.

CRTCUnder 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.

Once again, thank you for writing. I trust that this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Clement

Interesting.


When Cabinet overturned the ill advised CRTC WIND Mobile decision, much ado was made of the idea that Cabinet interference in CRTC doings was in fact a one time thing.   The second last paragraph of Tony Clement’s letter today rather strongly indicates otherwise.

Very interesting.

Prorogue or no, seems that Mr. Clement is out there working.


Sign the Petition:
http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Speculation not Prophecy

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 4, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

Stop Usage Based Billing

Usage Based Billing in a Nutshell

In August of last year research for my personal blog in the wind first brought Usage Based Billing to my attention. UBB is a technical issue filled with jargon so new much of it isn’t even in wikipedia, making it hard for ordinary people like me to understand. I’m not a programmer, I’m a mom, an artist and a writer, but I thought it important enough to create this public service blog to share the things I’ve learned to try to help other Canadians understand Usage Based Billing.

The left side bar lists of all the blog posts as an index to allow this blog to serve as a reference. I’ve tried to cover issues and technologies in as much depth as I can handle. (The glossary is probably the best place to start.) There is also a listing of websites and blogs there. The right side bar is loaded with links to specific articles which may also help understand the issue.

But for today’s purposes, we’ll just do a quick recap:

Fifteen years ago Canada was an internet technology leader and Canadians could connect to the internet at reasonable rates. Today we pay some of the most expensive rates in the world for mediocre service. The reason is simple; the internet carriers (Bell/Rogers) chose to make only minimal infrastructure re-investment.

kids at a computer

Families upgrade when they can.

As a mom I know that computer systems are obsolete after about six months.

As a mom I know it is important to buy the best system I can afford so that it will last the longest.

I need the best value for the family. Moms have to keep computer systems running far longer than programmers or corporations because families can’t afford otherwise.

Even so, there is not a single component on my desktop that I had 15 years ago. My system has changed many times over in the last 15 years. Because I have re-invested in my infrastructure.

Bell Canada has told the CRTC that Usage Based Billing is necessary. They say they need more income or they can’t improve their infrastructure. But what they did NOT tell the CRTC is that any infrastructure problems Bell Canada may be experiencing is because Bell Canada chose not to reinvest in infrastructure improvements for the past fifteen years.

Canadian customers have been paying premium prices for a steadily declining service. In order to encourage ISP competition the Canadian government mandated Bell Canada to make wholesale bandwidth available to Independent ISPs. The Canadian government encouraged these Independent businesses to set up shop so Canadian consumers could have Internet competition. Bell Canada was allowed to set the rates charged (astronomical) but in spite of that, the Independent ISPs have not only survived, they are now at the point of offering meaningful competition. They have a loyal customer base. But Bell Canada does not want to have to compete.

Canadian Independent Internet Service Providers include:

MTS Allstream, Primus, Yak, SureNet, Electronicbox, Skywaywest, MNSi, apexia, START CommunicationsAccelerated ConnectionsEgate, AEBCWightman, Caneris, AcanacVianet, Interlink, Lightspeed, Execulink, Telnet, Auracom, The Internet Centre, goZOOM, Diallog, KOS, Telinet, Compu-SOLVE, Merge Internet, NINA-IT, Broadline Networks, ISP.ca, OdynetAirnet and of course the Independent ISP I am happy to use, TekSavvy.

easier than competition

Bell Canada LogoBell Canada was caught “throttling” the internet service of the customers of the Independent Service Providers. Over strenuous protests from both customers and Independent ISPs, the CRTC actually gave Bell Canada permission to continue to interfere with internet service of their competitors customers.

This is a business practice unprecedented in any nation aspiring to free markets and democracy.

That wasn’t enough for Bell Canada. Now they want to additional levels of billing, again, not just for their own customers, but for the customers of the Independent ISPs. In addition to the near highest internet rates in the world Canadians are already paying, Bell wants us to pay them Usage Based Billing and apply usage caps which will double the rates of moderate internet users and exponentially increase the rates paid by heavy users. This will certainly harm Canadian internet customers.

Implementation of Usage Based Billing will most likely put the Independent ISPs out of business because these CRTC rulings will have removed their ability to compete. Since the Independent ISPs will merely be able to offer inferior rate packages as dictated by Bell Canada, they certainly won’t thrive.

Canadians don’t understand computer numbers

Although I’ve used computers since the 1980’s, I am a user, not a technical person. We users do not understand things like bandwidth (particularly since it means different things… see glossary again). A long time ago there were bits and bytes. Kilobytes. Megabytes. Now there are are Gigabytes and Terabytes. These words sometimes mean big and then all of a sudden they don’t. I remember when my sister had a computer with an incredibly big hard drive… two whole gigabytes. Today my digital camera has an 8 gigabyte memory card.

My essential point is that since most Canadians do not understand how much bandwidth is required for the the things we do online, we won’t know what we will need to do to cut back our internet use so that we can continue to afford it. This means that the biggest worst effect of Usage Based Billing will certainly be that after paying the first huge internet bill, Canadians are going to use the internet as little as possible. Anyone who doesn’t think that this will do serious damage to the Canadian economy is in denial.

The internet stopped being a luxury some time ago. It has become a key economic tool.

Ajax and Cassandra painting

Solomon Joseph Solomon′s painting of Ajax and Cassandra

Pretty big nutshell.

Now what?

RobertX asked what my predictions for UBB in the New Year would be.

I’m no Cassandra (which is just as well, actually) so I can’t predict what will happen to Usage Based Billing in 2010.

What I can do is speculate.

What might happen if they implement Usage Based Billing?

Since the CRTC has provisionally approved Usage Based Billing– on the basis of Bell Canada presentations unsubstantiated by evidence– Usage Based Billing could very well be implemented. Although the CRTC chose to ignore all of the dissenting voices, the CRTC did ask Bell Canada for some clarification, as well as the legal challenges the Independent ISPs have offered, so Usage Based Billing is still not a foregone conclusion.

Implementing UBB on the Quiet?

Because the bulk of the mainstream media “news” outlets haven’t actually informed Canadians that UBB is an issue– let alone one that they need to be concerned about– most Canadians still don’t know anything about Usage Based Billing or what it will mean to them.

It would be very possible, ridiculously easy even, to implement Usage Based Billing quietly. Even if the Independent ISPs forward a warning to customers, most people don’t read all the junk mail routinely include with our invoices. So implementation might well be slipped into effect without warning.

Since there isn’t likely to be a big outcry before UBB implementation, the CRTC might allow implementation of UBB thinking it won’t cause much of a fuss.   After all, Bell Canada says its necessary.   Bell Canada has many investors.   Bell Canada has many employees.   Which is why Bell Canada is so powerful. Rich.   Canadian consumers aren’t.

There will be a fuss. But it will come AFTER UBB implementation.

When most Canadians get the unhappy surprise that their internet bills have gone through the roof– for no reason other to enrich Bell Canada— there will most certainly be a fuss.

Usage Based Billing will cause untold damage to Canadians and the Canadian economy. Usage Based Billing may in fact be the tipping point for Canadian consumers.   Once implemented Usage Based Billing won’t be in the dark any more, and although slow to anger, Canadians will be angry. Very Angry.

Any or all of the following could well result from implementation of Usage Based Billing:

  • independent Internet Service Providers put out of business due to CRTC interference
  • Independent ISP class action lawsuits brought against Bell Canada, the Government of Canada, and the CRTC
  • media coverage as Canadians angrily demand to know who is responsible for Canadian overcharging
  • Canadians will want to know why we pay the highest rates in the world for mediocre internet service
  • cabinet overturning the ill advised CRTC decision to allow implementation of Usage Based Billing
  • Government dissolution of the CRTC because of the public outrage over CRTC decision to allow implementation of Usage Based Billing
  • Canadian class action suits brought against the so-called Canadian “backbone” ISP carriers for fraudulent charges for levels of service they don’t deliver because of throttling
  • Royal Commission to investigate malfeasance or corruption of CRTC
  • political upheaval, elections
  • the Pirate Party of Canada might well form a majority government and ensure Canadian Net Neutrality through laws prohibiting ISPs from being content providers

It would only be reasonable for the Independent ISPs to defer any CRTC orders allowing implemementation of Usage Based Billing in the absence of a sitting government. Certainly it is reasonable that a Minister of Industry might over-rule bad decisions made by the CRTC. After all, it happened for Wind Mobile.

Particularly since implementation of Usage Based Billing will require mammoth outlays of investment for usage monitoring equipment. If I ran an Independent ISP, I would not be willing to lay out funds before exhausting every possible avenue.

Implementation of Usage Based Billing cannot possibly be undertaken until the Measurement Canada holds a consultation with stakeholders. It would be incumbent on Measurement Canada to establish approved Marketplace Monitoring, Standards Calibration, Traceability, Delegation of Authorities, Complaint Investigation, Accreditation and Auditing standards just as they do for the natural gas industry.

Implementation of Usage Based Billing should not be undertaken without a framework of rules, as well as enforcement and auditing by the Privacy Commissioner.

What might happen if the CRTC reverses the decision and rules against Usage Based Billing?

I would happily wind down this blog.

The Independent ISPs would be able to get back to the business of providing excellent internet service to Canadians.   Now freed from frittering away their profits in court, they would be able to continue to expand and grow.

Those of us customers who have been aware of the Usage Based Billing threat would be happy, even though we are paying some of the highest internet rates in the world for mediocre service.

Pretty much everyone would be happy.

Everyone except Bell Canada.   The Bell Canada dream of eliminating the competition would have failed, so Bell Canada would not be happy.

Perhaps Bell Canada would start acting like a real company.   They would need to lower the dividend payments they make to their investors and instead reinvest in infrastructure.   Instead of using their “loyalty department” to offer quarterly bribes, maybe Bell Canada would treat their customers better overall in an effort to keep them, by offering good service for fair value.

It isn’t that Bell Canada has not been paid more than enough to upgrade the infrastructure, it’s that Bell Canada has spent large quantities of money on other things… like trying to start up a music downloading channel. (#fail)

You just never know.


Since Prime Minister Harper has chosen to prorogue government, things are different now.   It is unlikely that the petition to Dissolve the CRTC will be presented to Parliament before an election is called.

STOP Usage Based Billing

This makes it all the more important for Canadians to sign the petition.   If you haven’t yet, sign the petition, and encourage everyone you know who uses the internet to sign the petition at http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/.   Lets keep the heat on.  Spread the Word.


Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »