Consumer Information

An Interesting Video On UBB

Click here to view an interesting Youtube video explaining usage based billing and the related issues.

Canadians – Beware of Prepaid Credit Cards

Unlike gift cards issued by retailers in Canada, prepaid credit cards can expire. And there are a multitude of fees that eat away at your balance, including activation fees and transaction fees.

Some even have fees from $1.50 to $2.50 a month on cards that carry a balance more than six or seven months.

So be careful. If you absolutely must get a pre-paid credit card or credit card branded gift card, tell the recipient that he or she needs to use it as soon as possible, well before six months after activation.

CRTC Refuses To Expand Internet Review

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has denied a request from The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Consumers’ Association of Canada to expand their review of internet billing in Canada.

On February 12th, 2011, these associations had requested that the CRTC investigate the pricing of internet access and accept comments on this subject during their public consultation on usage based billing. But the CRTC denied this request, claiming that “There is no evidence that market forces are not working properly in this unregulated market” in an email published today.

Minister of Industry Tony Clements had stated in a tweet that a “door must still be open to Canadians’ broader concerns re pricing & competition” and in another tweet hinted that he would expand debate on the issue.

Warner Film Rentals On Facebook

It appears that the Warner film rentals on Facebook are not yet available to Canadians.

I’ve checked the The Dark Knight rental and the site says that it is unavailable for my country or region, so i’m guessing they’re still experimenting.

I suspect that Canadian will not be able to rent from Facebook for some time, which is a shame really because the $3 fee is pretty decent, though I already own The Dark Knight on DVD.

Liberal Party Proposal on UBB

The Liberal Party of Canada has submited a proposal to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission in regards to Usage Based Billing.

This five page submission was authored by Industry, Science and Technology Critic and former Astronaut Mark Garneau and includes a statement against the throttling of VOIP telephone service to “preferentially advantage home phone lines“. It also includes a statement against UBB fees that would “disadvantage live-streaming from Netflix while leaving Internet Protocol television such as IPTV exempt from caps“.

According to this document, the Liberal Party of Canada believes that network congestion should be addressed with further investment in infrastructure and location specific measures that are limited to peak periods.

For example, if congestion persists in Toronto they believe that people in Saskatoon should not be forced to pay for it, especially those who use the internet off peek from 10pm to 7am.

I’m guessing that most of the political parties in Canada agree with the major points of this document. But those that agree may co-sign this submission here.

Songwriters Propose Another Flat Rate

The Songwriters Association Of Canada have proposed a flat monthly fee of $10 in response to music piracy on the internet.

This fee, which would be charged to consumers via their internet providers, would enable Canadians to download an unlimited amount of music downloads and would compensate Canadian songwriters.

This all you can eat buffet may appeal to some peer to peer users. But unfortunately this fee would likely result in additional fees, as it does not compensate copyright holders. And at the moment there are music services that offer unlimited streaming for $5 that pay royalties that are forwarded to songwriters and copyright holders via the appropriate rights agencies.

I believe that a royalty scheme for peer to peer services is preferable, as it would enable the current rights agencies to collect funds from the peer to peer services and distribute these funds to songwriters and copyright holders.

Peer to peer services could obtain funds from advertisements and premium subscription sales, as well as affiliations, to pay these royalties.

As a consumer I would prefer a choice in regards to what services I subscribe to and pay for. And at the moment I purchase music via the legal services listed on this site. I also use free, advertiser funded services.

My current internet provider also throttles peer to peer services so I see no point in paying upwards from $10 to compensate songwriters and copyright holders for transfers I am unable to perform.

Yes, I am aware that some of these measures can be bypassed. But I am simply not interested in downloading music via the peer to peer services. And the majority of peer to peer users download porn and films according to an Envisional Study published in January of this year.

I suspect the internet providers will resist this fee, in respect to a 2004 Supreme Court rulling that found they were not legally responsible for the file transfers on their networks. The internet providers would likely oppose having to pay to administer the collection of the fee, or subsequent levies or fees.