Canada

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.

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.

The Fleecing of Internet Users In Canada

As you may or may not already know, the days of the unlimited internet died in Canada this month.

Gone are the days where one wouldn’t need to worry about limits and extra charges because Shaw and Primus have decided to go the way of Bell and Rogers. They have decided to use caps and extra fees.

When I had originally joined Bell Sympatico years back I had a relatively inexpensive plan and unlimited internet for years.

The speed of the connection was o.k but this was prior to the higher resolution videos on Youtube, the site I frequent the most, and eventually I wanted to upgrade to a faster connection.

Unfortunately when I was offered the faster connection, at a cheaper price, I was introduced to capping. I was limited to a 60 gigabite amount with optional extra gigabites for a few dollars more.

I was not informed that I would have my uploads and downloads limited to 60 gigabites so I was disappointed. But I had never surpassed 40 gigabites anyway, so I managed it.

A year or two back Bell contacted me once more. They were offering a faster connection and more discounts. But this time I scrutinized the offer and found out they were going to reduce my uploads and downloads to 40 gigabites.

Yes, they were going to take $10 off my bill. But I would then need to pay $5 of it back to get extra gigabites to cover the higher amount of transfers I was now at because of chatting and the 720p videos on Youtube.

I of course explained the situation and the salesperson concured that it wasn’t in my best interest to take this offer.

If I had taken the offer I wouldn’t have able to try Netflix. I wouldn’t have had the chance to view many of the 1080p videos on Youtube, which can add up quite quickly.

To save broadband I view most of the videos at 480p. But since the introduction of widescreen video it still adds up. And I would find it impossible to limit my usage to 25 gig cap that is currently being offered to some Bell customers so I wont be changing my plan soon.

Unfortunately for us Canadians, it appears that we are doomed to have the most expensive Internet fees in the world, as determined by Harvard in eary 2010.

Our infrastructure is aging, resulting in additional expendatures, and WIMAX will not be possible until 2012, well after the Analog to Digital transition of Canadian television networks.

Then there’s the issue that WIMAX could be controled by many of the major players like Bell and Rogers, who own some of the television networks.

Are they going to offer competitive rates with WIMAX or play monopoly to pad their stock value ?

Will they play the illegal download card as an excuse to cap WIMAX transfers and/or whine about their landline expeditures ?

I don’t know but i’m sure we’re going to need to fight at least one of these issues to try to keep our prices from skyrocketing.

So much for the promises of inexpensive access.

Liberals Respond To iPod Tax / Bill C-32

It appears that the Liberal Party do not support the so called iPod Tax after all, according to a press release found on their web site.

Like the conservatives they do not see any future for such levies. The Liberals would rather “introduce a new Private Copying Compensation Payment of $35 million to be transferred to Canadian artists each year, through the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC)” according to the press release.

The funds for this compensation, for “uncompensated downloads”, would not come from ISPs or from a levy, the party having recognized that the consumer wants neither.

They also recognized the bill’s digital locks provision restricted the consumer’s ability to make personal copies of material they’ve purchased and would alter this provision to allow copies for personal use.

The other general alterations they propose are the clarification of the definitions of “fair use”, specifically the education use and “mash-up” provisions. They want educational institutions to qualify for the exemption.

Bill C-32 has been referred to a Legislative Committee headed by Gordon Brown, MP for Leeds—Grenville (Ontario).

Please contact your local Member Of Parliament to voice your comments and concerns in regards to the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act.

Thank you.