interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

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



Advertisements

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

Scrooged out of Net Neutrality?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 25, 2010

No Usage Based BillingA Guide to The Open Internet” is a wonderful InfoGraphic that does a masterful job of visually explaining the importance of Net Neutrality, by contrasting the Internet of the present with The Ghost of the Internet Yet to Come.  Anyone who doesn’t understand the issue should definitely take a look.

graphic showing internet "tubes"

This is essentially a public service announcement made by the page’s creator, Michael Ciarlo. who explains how his personal experience with Internet non-neutrality led him to make this statement.

In Canada we’ve seen similar instances to what he describes, as when Bell started throttling the Internet access of the Independent ISPs.  The fact is that at the time Bell had just launched their own download service, which Bell was not throttling. Incredibly, the CRTC gave Bell approval

More recently, just when NetFlix opens for business in Canada the CRTC renegged on the conditions that had been set for Bell Canada before Usage Based Billing could be imposed on the Independent ISPs from Bell. Apparently Bells Fibe TV service is NOT subject to caps and throttling. Again, non-neutrality.

The CRTC‘s ill advised approval of Usage based Billing is a serious blow to Net Neutrality, not least because it threatens meaningful competition in the Canadian Internet market, and may well destroy it.

Net Neutrality is important to us all.



Net Neutrality is important to anyone who uses the Internet.
Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

You can also call or write your MP, whose email can be found here: MP postal code look-up

And we can contact the interested government Ministers:

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: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The FCC, the CRTC and NetFlix

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 19, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

[Seems the Stop Usage Based Billing blog has been getting traffic from The Consumerist, so I put together the following comment to try and clear up/boil it down for their audience. Except it’s being held for moderation. Since its a nutshell version of the situation I thought I’d post it here whilst I get back to writing my 2010 !NaNoWriMo novel.]

The US has the FCC; in Canada we have the CRTC.

Our backbone telephone carrier Bell does the throttling here in Canada, (in much the same way Comcast “throttled” and got slapped down by your FCC. The difference here is that when Bell got caught throttling they were given *permission* to throttle from our CRTC.)

The same Bell has asked the CRTC for Usage Based Billing.

Thing is, the CRTC has said they can throttle, cap or UBB their own ISP customers as much as they like. And they are. They do it already. They don’t need CRTC permission to do that.

But, you see, Bell has been losing customers to the Independent ISPs (especially when these customers discover that Bell is throttling etc ) In Canada it is the Indie ISPs who have challenged Bell’s right to throttle. And who have been fighting for net neutrality.

The thing about both Bell’s Canadian throttling and UBB is that Bell is doing both to the customers of the Independent ISPs.

Because as well as being a backbone carrier, Bell also happens to be an ISP that competes with the Independent ISPs. (I think in the US this would be called an “anti-trust” issue.)

Bell had to ask the CRTC permission to charge UBB to their competitors customers.

Netflix logo
So Bell wants to charge UBB — an additional price structure — to the customers of the Independent ISPs. I thought this was unreasonable when I first learned about this and felt compelled to start this public service blog to try to raise awareness of the issue.

More than a year later I still can’t get my mind around the idea that Bell would even ask our government telecommunications regulator to charge Usage Based Billing to their competitors customers. This is just… inconceivable.

The most incredible thing is that the CRTC gave this permission.

Interesting that it happened just as Netflix rolled out in Canada.

Stop Usage Based Billing



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11344 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: Clement1@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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »