Canadian Law

Response From Liberal Party on UBB

The Liberal Party want the usage based billing decision reversed, according to the Liberal technology critic.

Marc Garneau, the Member of Parliament for Westmount-Ville Marie, stated “We consider this decision to be anti-competitive, because it does penalize the small internet service providers.”

In a statement found on their web site, the Liberal Party complains that the proposed caps are too low in comparison to the states, at 25GB instead of 250GB. And that the CRTC failed to respond to the consumers concerns on this issue ; “This shows yet again that under a Conservative government, CRTC has come to mean ‘Consumers Rarely Taken into Consideration

The Liberal Party proposal in regards to the internet can be found here.

Response From Government on UBB

In response to the political and consumer backlash, the Minister of Industry has promised to investigate usage based billing.

In a statement issued on Monday, Tony Clement said “The Harper Government is committed to encouraging choice and competition in the wireless and Internet markets. Increased competition can lead to more choice, lower prices and better quality services for Canadians.”

The online petition had grown to over 160,000 signatures, doubling in less than 72 hours and I suspect his office has been flooded with letters, emails and faxes on the subject.

It is vital for taxpayers to voice their opinions on the matter because it is the taxpayer that paid for most of the infrastructure on which the internet operates in Canada.

Please discuss this issue with your local Member of Parliament.

Consumers Revolt Against UBB

An online petition against usage based billing has surpassed 80,000 signatures and Youtube, one of the services that will likely suffer the most because of UBB, has been flooded with videos on the subject.

Regular people, those that want to watch HD videos from legitimate sources, are furious. And as HD becomes more and more prevalent on the internet people will be forced to make more choices in regards to what they view.

Music downloads are usually fine as is music streaming and photography when it comes to bandwidth consumption. But videos gobble up bandwidth, as shown on a comparison chart published by the Vancouver Sun.

To remain under my limit i’ve decided to refrain from watching videos in HD online and will probably purchase the music videos I watch frequently on DVD or via iTunesicon. But of course many people will not want to limit their viewing to 480p, so I expect the internet providers to get quite a few complaints on this issue.

Netflix Canada Responds to UBB

A conference call for investors was held on January 26th, 2011 in regards to the performance of the Canadian version of Netflix in the last quarter of 2010, durring which CEO Reed Hastings addressed the usage based billing issue.

In response to a question relating to the impact of usage based billing on his company, Reed Hastings stated that the company is “definately worried” about the situation. And that he is concerned that some of his company’s clients might not discover their UBB limitations until one or two billing cycles, describing this issue as a pottential “significant negative for Netflix“.

Mr. Hastings believes that the cost to deliver a gigabite to consumers is marginal, at “well less than a penny“, so he believes his company will be able to negotiate reductions of the associated fees and higher caps with the help of some of Canada’s consumer groups and internet providers.

Internet Usage Based Billing To Stay

As you may know the CRTC ruled that Internet Usage Billing was fine on Tuesday, provided that a 15% discount be given to the smaller internet providers.

Unfortunately this means that unlimited internet access will likely disappear, as soon as March 2011 in some cases, reducing the customer’s ability to rent High Definition films and concerts online.

Yes, it is possible to change the settings on Netflix to only watch material in Standard Definition, and to only rent films on iTunes in SD. But most people who have invested in HD televisions and the nessesary internet compatible equipment had expected accesibility to the higher quality video and audio formats.

I, for one, am quite content watching DVD quality films and concerts. But even Standard Definition film streams add up so I will likely continue renting films at the local store or from a mailing service, both of which are owned by one of the larger internet providers mentioned in the CRTC ruling.

I just hope that more automated movie dispensers will make their way into Canadian neighbourhoods to drive the price of rentals down because the prices of HD rentals on my cable box are ridiculous. I refuse to pay $7.99 when I can rent it from a store for two dollars less.

As you can tell I am getting quite annoyed with my cable company, especially now that I know they’ll be raising my rates in March. I am serioulsy considering ending my 20 year relationship with them and going for IPTV or OTA television.

Actually “relationship” isn’t really the most apt word to describe it. After all, I had no real choice but to be subjected to their excessive, stock value padding rate hikes until satellite came in, which has its drawbacks as well. But I digress.

I knew unlimited internet wasn’t going to last in Canada as soon as the broadcasters started posting their material online. This distribution is a threat to the television distribution monopolies of this country, who could cry foul and call this downloading illegal prior to this transition.

They had also resisted digital television in Canada via the networks they own, claiming the analog to digital television expendatures were too great. They’ve even managed to delay the transition for some of their stations beyond the August 31st, 2011 deadline set by the CRTC.

Internet usage based billing will be subject to the same consistant hikes we saw in cable and satellite fees, as the monopolies transition from their traditional distribution to an on demand service.

I believe they are raising their cable and satellite fees as quickly as possible to establish high rates to then sell the illusion of savings to the Canadian consumers who are not aware that we are already paying significantly higher than average rates for internet access according to a October 2009 study by the Berkman Center For Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Copyright Reform In Canada

Just thought i’d bump an interesting collection of articles on copyright reform in Canada : From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda

The individual articles found at the above mentioned link are in the PDF format are are downloadable in respect to the Creative Commons Legal Code.