Music Technology

Bell Internet Usage Error

Bell has found a fault in their online internet usage meter that caused 0.1% of their customers to get overcharged.

I had suspected there was a problem because my router’s usage data never matched the usage data provided by Bell.

In a statement to the CBC, Bell stated that they will fix the problem “certainly before the end of the week” and credit the accounts of those who were affected.

Such errrors of course place usage based billing in doubt as errors can occur resulting in unsubstantiated overcharges.

The CRTC has decided to review their usage based billing decision and this incident will probably be mentioned as a reason why usage based billing is questionable.

Public Consultations on UBB

Both the CRTC and Shaw are holding public consultations on Usage Based Billing :

P2P Majority Agrees with Avenue Q ?

Appearently a recent Envisional study has found that the majority of Peer To Peer users believe that “The Internet Is For Porn“.

In attempting to discover how much copyrighted material is being pirated, the NBC Universal commissioned study found that out of the 10,000 transfered files they examined, 35.8% were porn, followed closely by film at 35.2% and television programing at 12.5%.

Of those 10,000 PublicBT files, only 2.9% were illegal music downloads. But of course the study also found that “23.76% of traffic was estimated to be infringing“, meaning that almost a quarter of all internet traffic involved copyright violations of some sort, excluding porn.

When concentrating on American transfers Envisional found that 17.53% of the transfers were infringing. And that 20% of the transfers were conducted on Peer To Peer networks, 13.8% of which were copyright violations.

The vast majority of streaming on the net was either legal or porn according to the study, video streaming accounting for 27% to 30% of the transfers. Only an estimated 1.56% of this streaming material was deemed infinging.

The study also establishes that 93.4% of Usenet posts contain copyrighted material, which is rather interesting. I had thought most people had given up on this antiquated distribution method.

Usage Based Billing Delayed

The CRTC has decided to delay the implementation of usage based billing for 60 days, as requested by Bell and Vaxination Informatique.

In response to more complaints from consumers, CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein was asked to appear before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on January 3rd, 2010, where appearently he claimed to support the decision as a means to control downloads by “greedy or excessive” users.

The problem here is that the term “excessive” is subjective. What could be deemed acceptable by some could be deemed “excessive” by others.

For example, I had been asked by Bell to join a cheaper service that would have resulted in a reduction of my allowable monthly usage from 60 gigs to 25 gigs. Was I being “excessive” at the average use of 40 gigs ?

I don’t download films or television programs illegally. I mostly watch videos on Youtube and on the television network sites, and rarely in HD. Is this “greedy” ?

The CRTC failed to define what is normal when it comes to usage so the internet providers would impose their beliefs as to what is and isn’t excessive, to the detriment of consumers.

What is average today would have been “excessive” years back.

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.

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.