internet

Must Reads On Usage Based Billing

The following documents dispell many of the claims used to justify Usage Based Billing : “Canada’s Usage Based Billing Controversy: How to Address the Wholesale and Retail Issues” by Michael Geist and “Myths and Fallacies about Usage Based Billing (UBB)” by Bill St. Arnault.

The later was commissioned by Netflix, who have recently decided to offer additional video quality settings to their customers because of this issue.

For additional information on Usage Based Billing, consult Michael Geist’s blog.

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.

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.

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.

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.