Canadian

Online Retailer Adapts To Usage Based Billing

Netflix Canada has decided to offer additional options to their customers in response to the usage based billing issues.

Canadian subcribers will now be able to access additional options when it comes to the quality of the videos they stream from Netflix in order to reduce their consumption of bandwidth.

According to Netflix, they will now offer three levels of video quality to their Canadian customers :

  1. Good – Max. 625 kbps Video/64 kbps Audio, which translates to about 9 gigabites of data for 30 hours of content.
  2. Better – Max. 1300 kbps Video/192 kpbs Audio, which translates to about 20 gigabites of data for 30 hours of content.
  3. Best – Max. 4800 kbps (1080p HD video) and 384 kbps (5.1 audio), which translates to about 67 gigabites of data for 30 hours of HD content.

On the Best setting transfers will fluctuate depending on if the content is in HD and/or whether there is congestion. This means 30 hours of non-HD content on the Best setting will translate to about 31 gigabites of data.

It should be noted that American and Canadian television episodes from before 2009 are not likely going to be available in HD, so people who enjoy watching this content can use the Best setting. And several films on Netflix are not available in HD as well, including many by Paramount, who have just signed onto the service in Canada.

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.

No Pandora For Canada

It appears that Pandora will not be comming into Canada for quite some time.

In a letter to the Financial Post, Pandora founder Tim Westergren stated that the music streaming service has shelved their plans to expand into Canada because “the rates that have been proposed by the Canadian music rights societies are simply uneconomic”.

The Financial Post had previously published a story about the viability of web radio, resulting in this response by Pandora, a service that features over 80,000 artists, many of which are independent.

One of the few services that have made it’s way north is Rdio and Slacker, services from which music can be streamed from the web to personal computers for $4.99 a month.

Maclean Magazine Scorns Canadians

Appearently Maclean believes that Canadian consumers are being unfair about usage based billing, and that we all want free access to the internet.

This Rogers Communications owned publication thinks that because they believe average users aledgely only use 16 gigabites per month that anyone going over this amount should be subjected to higher fees, just because some 2% of users download “hundreds of gigs worth” per month.

Is this what they call “Fair” ? And where did they get that 16 gigabite per month figure ?

My average use is at about 40 gigs per month at the moment because of Youtube and i’m sure Netflix users have a similar rate. I am not an “average user” ?

It’s obvious that legitimate online television and film content streaming have resulted in a hike in average use and that 16 gig figure will not cut it.

There are already hundreds of internet ready devices, including televisions and blu-ray players, that enable families to view film and television from the internet. And these devices are getting more and more affordable each day so the “average” use will likely surpass 50 or 60 gigs per month soon, if it hasn’t already.

Cloud computing will also drive some of these transfers up, as more and more people use this new technology from their home, so usage based billing is no response.

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.