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Usage Based Billing In Canada To Be Rescinded

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-so-fast-eh dept.

Canada 364

theshowmecanuck writes "The Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Industry are set to reverse a ruling by the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) allowing big Cable and Telecom companies to charge based on bandwidth usage. The ruling applied to both retail customers and smaller ISPs buying bandwidth wholesale from the major companies. The head of the CRTC has been called to testify before cabinet on why they want to allow the big internet providers to do this. In this case the elected government agrees with the very large number of angry Canadians that this was bad for competition. Most Canadians see this as a bureaucracy aided cash grab with very suspect timing since companies like Netflix are starting to move into the Canadian market (big cable companies lowered caps and increased usage fees a week before Netflix started Canadian operations). The CRTC has a fair number of ex-industry executives on the board."

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364 comments

An outbreak of sense (2)

Ryunosuke (576755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089200)

Will this outbreak of sense continue south of the border?

Re:An outbreak of sense (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089818)

No, because our highest levels of government here are captured too.

Re:An outbreak of sense (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089876)

No, there's an up election coming up within the next year. The Conservative (the Prime Minister party) attack adds have been airing for two or three months now and there's a budget vote coming up. This is a temporary ploy to increase voter approval. I imagine after the election it'll fall by the wayside.

Combine it with a stirling engine (-1, Offtopic)

Pegasus (13291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089208)

I'm wondering how useful would these things be when combined with a stirling engine, with the cold part of it sticking into a local stream or lake or someting. Stirling would then power an electric generator and I'm sure the combined efficiency of it would be higher than best photovoltaics available today.

Re:Combine it with a stirling engine (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089220)

What?

Re:Combine it with a stirling engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089266)

Powering a stirling engine with hot air is nothing new. Harvesting the hot air from the Prime Minister of Canada might be difficult.

Re:Combine it with a stirling engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089222)

Posted in the wrong story, also this has already been done.

http://www.stirlingenergy.com/ [stirlingenergy.com]

Right on! (4, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089218)

As a Canadian and as someone who signed the: Petition [openmedia.ca] , I am thrilled to see this reversal! Bandwidth while having a huge upfront cost is almost negligible in costs after that. When it costs a penny a gigabyte on the wire there is absolutely no reason to be charging near-two dollars for it! What we ultimately need is a country-wide backbone that is operated as a non-profit and allows anyone to sub-let it!

Re:Right on! (2)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089286)

Why don't you make that government mandated too? Split price over the entire population, remove private ISPs. Free internet.

Re:Right on! (1, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089360)

>>>Split price over the entire population, remove private ISPs. Free internet.

Yeah because the government runs their other programs (post office, social security, medicare, military, falling-down bridges, potholed-filled roads,Amtrak,...) so well and profitable! They would do a great job running the internet companies.
/end sarcasm

Re:Right on! (2)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089434)

Yeah, let the invisible hand of the free market decide... oh wait. Nevermind.

Re:Right on! (1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089522)

Change providers?

Oh that's right you can't because the GOVERNMENT won't let you. (Government created the monopoly that screws us. Thank you County Council. Grrr.)

Re:Right on! (3, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089754)

And as is regularly brought up, there's a reason for that. Without government sponsored monopolies most cities would have 50 ISPs jumping over themselves for the lucrative to operate and relatively cheap to install urban markets, while the unprofitable to operate, relatively expensive to install outlying areas would be luck to get Internet at all. The whole idea of local government owned or government managed utilities came about precisely because people outside of the urban centers got tired of not being able to get electricity, water, and phone service. Do you think the Internet would be miraculously different somehow?

Bzzt, inapplicable (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089460)

Canada != US

Re:Bzzt, inapplicable (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089500)

But Canada is the icy dapper top-hat of USA!

Re:Right on! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089486)

post office

The post office is self-sufficient and outside of the scope of your argument. We all hate snail mail spam, but it's what pays for the service that gets anything I want to ship to where I want it to go in less than a week (usually).

I'm fairly happy with the quality of roads. They rebuild them when necessary and do a good job of clearing them of snow and debris. Yesterday we were hit with about 2 feet of snow overnight, and I was able to drive my teeny-tiny Fiesta all the way to work without problem.

Internet seems like a perfectly natural monopoly like roads, electric service, and health care. Oops, I forgot. We have capitalist health care. That way when I have a heart attack, I can make a few phone calls to get some bids from area hospitals, do some negotiating for a good price, and then go into surgery. Hospitals with poor customer service and higher rates will either improve or go out of business. Right? Oops! My bad, I'm off-topic.

Re:Right on! (1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089874)

>>>The post office is self-sufficient

Maybe in Canada, but our US Post Office is billions in debt. If it were a company it'd probably go bankrupt soon. - I'd prefer that the US Congress subcontract to a private company such as UPS or FedEx (or both) to handle to-the-door deliveries. At least they know how to operate with a profit.

As for roads, many US bridges are in sorry shape (according to the DOT) and on the verge of collapse like the Minneapolis bridge.

>>>Internet seems like a perfectly natural monopoly

Not really. Internet can run on the width of a hair (fiber optic). There's really no reason why you can't run 50+ companies to each home (as part of 1 centimeter-thick cable), and let the customer decide which one he wants. There's no need for monopoly anymore.

Re:Right on! (1, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089528)

Why don't you make that government mandated too? Split price over the entire population, remove private ISPs. Free internet.

Either you don't understand how government works, or you have a curiously different definition of the word "free".

Re:Right on! (2)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089822)

Ok well not actually free, you'll still pay tax for it, BUT, the tax would be spread over more people and thus cheaper. Also paying less for things that are usually overpriced.

Re:Right on! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089782)

Why don't you make that government mandated too? Split price over the entire population, remove private ISPs. Free internet.

You mean like `roads`?

Re:Right on! (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089294)

I know this is not a very popular view on /. and will probably get me modded down by Moderators saying, "Make him invisble"

But I do think bandwidth should be metered. Gasoline is metered. Diesel is metered. Electricity is metered. Water is metered. Phonecalls are metered (well mine are- 18c/minute). Why not megabytes?

Comcast imposes a 250 GB cap which is more than enough even for people who watch hulu.com every day (like me). I don't have any problem with Comcast charging an extra 10 cents per GB past that cap, since those users are straining the infrastructure, using more electricity, slowing-down service for other users, et cetera.

Just my humble opinion.

Re:Right on! (5, Informative)

silentbrad (1488951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089332)

Just so you know, the caps were reduced drastically (I get 100GB on the largest plan available from my ISP in my area), and the overage charges are ridiculous. You talk about 10 cents per GB, but we're being charged between $1 and $2.50 per GB.

Re:Right on! (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089548)

Let me guess - videotron. When I signed up, I bought the unlimited bandwidth plan, and a couple of years ago it's suddenly capped at 100 gb/month.

Now, most months I use only a fraction of that, but when a new linux distro comes out, I want to give back by sharing as much as possible - plus I have several boxes that I want to upgrade (I do the network upgrade option, and with ~5,000 packages, that's almost 10 gigs per box).

For the people who point out that water is metered, guess what? Water is supplied by your local government, at cost, and we've never had the tap stop running - not even during the Ice Storm.

Municipalities should be free to get into supplying the pipes for the Internet to their "shareholders".

Re:Right on! (2)

silentbrad (1488951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089648)

Shaw, actually. They have two tiers higher than what I have (I think 250 is the highest cap), but those aren't available in Alberta (at least, not last I checked).

Re:Right on! (1)

sgbett (739519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089806)

The issue here is not that people are being charged for usage (entirely sensible model imho), but that the telcos are price gouging consumers.

Conversely, the 'unlimited internet' thing just doesn't work, because you have this thing called 'fair usage' that means you are allowed to redefine the word unlimited as unlimited for any value smaller than X.

The reality (for anyone that has any kind of dedicated/cloud server or hosting account) is that bandwidth is actually relatively cheap. This is the dirty little secret of the telcos, they know they are vastly overcharging and will do anything to protect their little racket.

Re:Right on! (2)

silentbrad (1488951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089974)

Exactly. I posted a link a little ways down in which Netflix's CEO says:

"costs to deliver a marginal gigabyte, which is about an hour of viewing, from one of our regional interchange points over their last mile wired network to the consumer is less than a penny, and falling, so there is no reason that pay-per-gigabyte is economically necessary"

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089336)

I agree. The problem is that here you have to pay $100 / month minimum for the honour of paying $0.50 per gigabyte over. On a cheaper plan? Be prepared to pay $2-5 per gig for overage. I'll be happy to pay per-gig charges when they represent anything approaching the true cost that the parent company pays.

Re:Right on! (2)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089348)

I don't mind my bandwidth to be metered, but charge me the true price for it and do it from 0 and not after a specific threshold was reached.

The problem is not so much that they charge for bandwidth, but rather the way they do it and the reasons why they do it.

Re:Right on! (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089350)

What are your thoughts on a 25GB cap that costs $2 per GB you go over? Personally, I think that's like saying if you use more than one tank of gas a week you pay double for the rest. I've had months where I burned through 25GB just updating all my games and with nearly every electronic toy in my house wanting or requiring Internet connectivity the usage is just going up.

Enabler. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089358)

Or why don't companies build out more infrastructure? They cut corners to save every penny they can while charging as much as possible for the service. Tiered Internet plans are applying the "tv" broadcast model to a medium that is peer to peer (yes, servers are peers). I think that Internet capacity should be as over-built as possible and damn the upfront costs! It would enable countless things: imagine watching any episode of any television program or any movie or listening to any music on demand - all in the highest definition possible. And everyone doing it with capacity to spare. Gone would be the days of "scheduled tv programming" and it would herald an era where you follow your interests wherever that leads.

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089362)

Indeed. I would rather pay for exactly what I use rather than pay for "unlimited" speeds "up to" a certain amount, and then get in trouble for daring to download "unlimited" content. But if I did that, how much would I end up paying? Maybe five dollars per month? Maybe ten when the newest Ubuntu is released?

They want to have their cake and eat it too. They charge you for your speed, and then charge you for using it. One or the other, please.

Re:Right on! (2)

hazah (807503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089366)

They proposed a cap of 25GB with extra charge of $1 for each GB over that cap. Does that still sound good to you?

Re:Right on! (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089372)

Fair enough, but if you want to truly meter Internet bandwidth usage, you damn well do it at a point that is fair in line with the actual costs of delivering it. When it costs pennies per GB to deliver, you don't charge $2-$3 for it. I would accept something like $0.10 per GB, but that would mean my current 200 GB cap from TekSavvy would cost $20 a month, and that's assuming I use it all. I can't see Bell thinking that's a good plan.

Re:Right on! (1)

PsyciatricHelp (951182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089396)

The problem is not high caps. we are talking caps of 2, 5, 10 GB per month. I hit 15 GB in a few hour downloading and testing 20 different linux distros.

Re:Right on! (1)

PsyciatricHelp (951182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089432)

Metered would be perfectly fine if they offered enough options at reasonable prices. Like 5gb steps from 5gb per month all the way up to 500gb per month.

Re:Right on! (4, Interesting)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089406)

either the ISPs charge for volume, or they charge for speed. charging for _both_ is the problem.

so, if they want to charge for gigabyte, fine, but every line would have to be the same performance wise. like 100 Mb/s for everyone.

or charge for a tiered speeds (10, 20, 50, 100 Mb/s) with no volume cap.

the examples you gave are just like that. electicity is billed by charge (measured in kWh), gasoline by volume (in liters), fone calls by time (minutes), but there's no cap on how many amperes you can draw from the grid, how many lliters per second you can pump or how many calls per hour you can make.

choose one form of billing and stick to it.

Re:Right on! (2)

expatriot (903070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089578)

Electricity is charged by volume (watt hours) and peak flow (amperes). Most domestic installations are on the lowest tier of the peak flow.

To continue the analogy, the generation cost and the size of the wire and transformers are a factor.

So charging for both peak and average flow is reasonable, but the per unit charge must be related to the supplier cost. 25GB then $1/GP is not a reasonable charge.

Re:Right on! (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089664)

>>>fone calls by time (minutes)

Not always. My parents have budget billing that charges per call. 10 cents a call, unless it's long distance which is 10 cents per call + 5 cents per minute. (Dual billing like ISPs do.)

As for others comments:

It's a Government-created monopoly. Government deserves the blame for allowing said monopoly to continue, instead of giving us other options (i.e. to quit Comcast and go with AppleTV or MSN or AOL or whatever).

Re:Right on! (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089456)

I think the bigger issue isn't that it will be 10 cents per GB, but closer to 10 dollars per GB. We, the customer, are at their mercy for billing. Because of the government-granted monopolies in many areas and borderline collusion on pricing, there isn't anywhere for customers to go to get better products or services.

And with the other metered services you mention, the user is depriving someone else from using those items. They are physical, tangible things (including electricity because of what it takes to generate). Network packets aren't depriving someone else of their usage in any reasonable sense. The only thing they require after the line is laid is the electricity, which is already a metered item

Re:Meter (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089516)

Except just for you, to show your support for metering, Comcast will charge a dollar a byte past your cap.

The danger of positions like you are recommending is the two parts -
A. "I support metering ... I don't have any problem with them charging..."
  coupled with
B. (Low price that I pick, which need not at all be the actual rate).
You forgot about the "give an inch, take a parsec" effect going lately. See for example the story of AT&T illegally overbilling usage.

Re:Right on! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089518)

That idiocy again. Gasoline is metered because gasoline can be stored and used later. Gasoline that you don't use now is a substitute for other gasoline that you would have to buy later. Electricity is metered because the resources from which it is created can be stored and used later. (And yes, electricity that can't be stored is free if the demand is less than the supply.) Water can be stored. Making a unit of clean water, electricity, diesel costs a relatively fixed amount of money. Making a unit of transfer volume does not cost a fixed amount of money. You can only build networks and the price of a gigabyte transferred goes down the more you transfer, because the cost of the network is practically constant, regardless of utilization. If you want to pay by gigabyte, then do so, but know that you're asking to be price-gouged and will get less for more. With consumers as dumb as you, we'd still be telling users not to surf so many web pages with big images, like admins in the 90s did when the web was new and increased the demand for bandwidth over the previous text-only protocols at least tenfold.

(If you're wondering why I'm calling you an idiot instead of calmly explaining the problem with your "argument", it's because you keep ignoring the facts. You're a Slashdot regular and you know quite well why electricity and other utilities are not a good analogy for computer networks, yet you bring up this bullshit every time. You're either trolling or an idiot, and I have no sympathy for that. Moderators don't mod you down because you're presenting an unpopular opinion, your comment deserves negative moderation because it is a display of ignorance or malice.)

Re:Right on! (1)

gig (78408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089614)

The issue was not paying more for getting more. The issue was cable companies taxing online video by dramatically lowering bandwidth caps and dramatically increasing overage charges. Essentially saying the Internet is not for video, that is what cable TV is for.

So, no, you don't have a problem with a 250GB cap and 10 cents per GB over that cap. But what if Comcast dropped you to a 60GB cap and $2 per GB overage because you subscribed to Netflix? That is what happened in Canada.

Re:Right on! (1)

fiendy (931228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089790)

Also worthwhile to note two things (probably mentioned elsewhere):

1) Both of the ISP's (telco/cable co.) Now own various portions of media/content producing companies. In the case of Bell, they now own CTV, a national media outlet. One could easily argue that CTV is a competitor to Netflix.

2) There apparently was no capacity argument in the ISP's filing with the CRTC. I do not believe that they argued that the caps/ubb would decrease traffic as if they did, they would have to have demonstrated that their networks are congested, which as I understand it, are not.

Re:Right on! (1)

Johnbd66 (716980) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089620)

since those users are straining the infrastructure, using more electricity, slowing-down service for other users, et cetera.

Just my humble opinion.

Will this outbreak of common sense continue on /.? We can only hope.

Re:Right on! (1)

rho180 (1057712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089894)

The "strain" on the infrastructure is a self-inflicted problem. Bell keeps adding users and charging "activation fees" per new user, but instead of building out their infrastructure to handle the increased activity with this money, they pocket it and throttle their users. You may say that that's their prerogative to run their business how they see fit, but without competitors (which is what this ruling essentially removed from the marketplace), what's a consumer supposed to do?

Re:Right on! (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089722)

Speaking as someone who moderates a lot, your preemptive claim of moderator abuse doesn't help get the moderators to leave you alone. :P

As for the cap, the caps aren't like that. What actually happened is that your new cap is 25GB, and it costs $2/GB beyond that. Still think its a great idea to watch hulu or download a 10GB game off Steam? Those are the actual numbers the ISPs in Canada are pushing on people.

The other issue is that this came from the CRTC, which is notoriously stuffed with former telecom insiders and who ALWAYS rules in their favor (except when they clash with the big media companies, but Canadians never win in these things).

This decision was terrible and the government is doing the right thing by stepping in. What they actually need to do is purge the CRTC and fill it with true experts instead of former Bell employees, but I'll take any kind of forward progress at this point.

Re:Right on! (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089746)

In principle, many Canadians agree with you. In practice, Bell set the caps/charges at 25GB and $2 per gig overage.

If it was 250GB and $0.10 overage, we wouldn't be in this mess. But when I have to pay $50 in bandwidth to download a videogame from the playstation network, or pay $4 an hour to watch netflix, something is wrong.

Re:Right on! (2)

rho180 (1057712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089760)

There is nothing wrong with you personally deciding that you prefer the idea of UBB, or even with an ISP like Bell deciding that it's in their best interest to charge their customers in that manner. What was wrong with the ruling is that it essentially shut out competitors from offering differentiated pricing schemes, meaning there would be no competition in the market other than cable internet providers (who were in line to get their own similar ruling later this year).

Re:Right on! (2)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089816)

Sure, in principle, but the devil is in the details. "Usage based billing" doesn't really describe what is going on here-- that's the industry propaganda term. This decision was primarily about wholesaler's ability to screw over bandwidth resellers, like Teksavvy (who I use). Under the CRTC's decision, Bell was going to cut my bandwidth cap from 250GB/month to *25*. With $2/GB overage fees. Some companies here charge around $5 (I know!!!) per gig after hitting your monthly max. Canada's incumbent telcos have tremendous power and the CRTC, under good ol' Conrad von Finkenstein, has been entrenching their power even more.

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089866)

While I agree with you, the issue at hand was a 25 GB cap not a 250 GB cap you insensitive clod!!!

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089312)

I'm still going to the Stop The Meter Rally on Saturday at Parliament, just in case.

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089468)

While I agree that this should be rescinded, a counter-argument is that the costs to upgrade the "last mile" and the "access" technologies is where a lot of the costs are. Not in the core/backbone networks where fiber is already prevalent.

Let's all work towards cheaper internet though. Sign the petition!

Re:Right on! (2)

c (8461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089534)

> What we ultimately need is a country-wide backbone that is operated
> as a non-profit and allows anyone to sub-let it!

If this country had a backbone, these asshole corporations would have been broken up ages ago. Content providers and access providers need to be separated, and anything less than that will be abused.

This decision might get overturned, but the telecom providers had a taste of total victory... they aren't going to let this go that easily.

Re:Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089886)

True, but there's momentum behind the movement right now. It'd be interesting to organize and get a few other important changes in the books; like routine Jury Citoyen ( http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_citoyen#Au_Canada_.28Qu.C3.A9bec.29 ) overview of country-wide regulations, free (both meanings) and unrevokable access to Statistics Canada data (possibly restrained to non-commercial usage) for any Canadian Citizen, and mandated net (including cellphone) neutrality.

Re:Right on! (1)

Rutefoot (1338385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089674)

This may be the only time you'll hear me say this, but: Good work Federal Conservatives

The situation is much more complicated than that (4, Interesting)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089694)

Most Canadians who are up in arms over this are missing the point. The ministry is missing the point. Bandwidth caps are GOOD. They provide the proper incentive structure for both consumer and ISP. On the consumer side, you can pick an appropriate plan that allows for only the amount of bandwidth that you need, resulting in more effective market segregation. This means low-use consumers don't need to subsidize high-use consumers. On the ISP side, the incentive is to provide as fast a connection as possible to encourage usage and excess usage.

A little publicized fact about the recent CRTC rulings is that bandwidth caps are classified as an economic Internet Traffic Management Practice (ITMP). Throttling, DPI, etc, are classified as technical ITMPs. The CRTC is trying to encourage economic ITMPs and discourage technical ITMPs so that consumers know what they are paying for.

Imagine these two situations:
1) You pay $40/month for an unlimited 10Mbps connection, but can only get 10Mbps at 2-4am in the morning. Other times, because of high network usage, you get an unstable connection that goes 3-5Mbps, or even slower during peak times.
2) You pay $40/month for a 10Mbps connection with a 100GB limit. Most of the time, your connection speed is around 10Mbps, but you just need to watch how much you download. There is a tool provided for you by the ISP to check your usage, updated daily.

I would much, MUCH rather go for the second option. I am paying for a certain service. I know the terms of that service. I'm getting exactly what I'm paying for.

The problem that most Canadians have (and rightly so) is that the caps were set way too low. The reasons are complicated, but I'll try to summarize them. In Canada, the Bell companies own the last mile infrastructure. However, they are mandated to lease their last mile infrastructure to third-party ISPs at a reasonable wholesale rate that allows for competitive plans and pricing. This has been working well for a while, as third-party ISPs were able to provide similar plans at lower cost. HOWEVER, the Bell companies recently started to roll out VDSL service. They argued that they should be able to sell VDSL service exclusively for a limited time to "recuperate investment costs", and the CRTC agreed. So third-party ISPs cannot currently sell VDSL service, only ADSL service. Then the Bell and cable companies argued for UBB, which was granted. When they were allowed to use UBB, the Bell companies purposely gutted their own ADSL plans, putting strict bandwidth limits and high overage costs. This meant that the wholesale plans that they sold to the third-party ISPs were impacted in the same way.

All of that builds up to this: The third-party ADSL rates ARE competitive with respect to the Bell companies' ADSL services. However, since the Bell companies can sell VDSL services exclusively, they used that leverage to put in place anti-competitive practices.

THIS is where the problem is. The problem is not UBB, but rather the slimy business practices executed by these Bell companies. To solve this situation, the government should NOT be repealing the UBB decision. Instead, they should either allow third-party ISPs to sell VDSL services, or mandate reasonable minimum bandwidth caps and reasonable maximum overage charges.

Re:The situation is much more complicated than tha (4, Insightful)

shovas (1605685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089744)

On the consumer side, you can pick an appropriate plan that allows for only the amount of bandwidth that you need, resulting in more effective market segregation. This means low-use consumers don't need to subsidize high-use consumers. On the ISP side, the incentive is to provide as fast a connection as possible to encourage usage and excess usage.

What actually does happen, though, is that the ISP provides ludicrous plans (too much money, too little bandwidth) AND the ISP does everything in their power to encourage excess usage. They have their cake and eat it, too, because we lack proper, level playing-field competition.

Re:Right on! (1)

ChiRaven (800537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089862)

... What we ultimately need is a country-wide backbone that is operated as a non-profit and allows anyone to sub-let it!

Who PAYS for it? And how? And over how long, financed by what means?

The perfect plan. (0, Redundant)

Yaos (804128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089230)

1. CRTC tells the ISPs they can do something unpopular. 2. People don't like it. 3. Government says "stop it CRTC". 4. CRTC disbanded. 5. ISPs can continue to do something unpopular.

Why can't we all just live in peace? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089256)

Let the internet be free man ... I mean how can you bill for ones and zeros? This is so crazy, how dare people bill me for the amount of bandwidth I use. I mean sure they bill power and water based on how much I use it ... but this is the internet man ... this is a fundamental right.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.

Re:Why can't we all just live in peace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089288)

Let the internet be free man ... I mean how can you bill for ones and zeros? This is so crazy, how dare people bill me for the amount of bandwidth I use. I mean sure they bill power and water based on how much I use it ... but this is the internet man ... this is a fundamental right.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.

I honestly can't tell if you're serious or if this is a joke. Part of what you say makes complete sense while the other part is totally delusional.

Re:Why can't we all just live in peace? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089298)

While your strawman does look nice in tie-dye, it wholly ignores the real point:

At present, most ISPs are also historical incumbents(telco or cable) or little vassal companies that they are statutorially obliged to lease infrastructure access to. In many locations, the level of competition is also somewhere between oligopoly and monopoly.

The regulatory apparatus is a (weak) attempt to force an outcome more in line with what a hypothetical free-market equilibrium would look like(ie. not massive rent-seeking and destruction of novel competitors to protect obsolete but profitable legacy businesses) not some hippy love-fest, man.

delusional thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089262)

Theres a lot of delusional thinking going on here.

If anyone believes for a minute that the big ISP providers in Canada are going to back down, you are sadly mistaken.

This issue was never about metered use. This issue is about generating income for the loss in traditional content delivery : cable tv/sat. tv.

The ISPs know the game is up and that internet content is going to take over. They are going to find a way, either via higher plans, or extra fees to make it up.

wait and see.

Re:delusional thinking (2)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089370)

If anyone believes for a minute that the big ISP providers in Canada are going to back down, you are sadly mistaken.

Hence we someday invented something called judicial and legislative power. I hear it's a great counterweight to economical power.

Re:delusional thinking (1)

pisto_grih (1165105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089446)

Hence we someday invented something called judicial and legislative power. I hear it's a great counterweight to economical power.

You must be new here.

Re:delusional thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089526)

Hence we someday invented something called judicial and legislative power. I hear it's a great counterweight to economical power.

Sadly, many in the US think they should all be one and the same. Let's hope our neighbors to the north aren't infected with such simplistic thinking.

Finally (1)

dvious (1840038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089274)

One of the many poor CRTC decisions is questioned at the highest level. We can only hope this plants the seed in the people's mind that the CRTC is nothing more than a puppet agency controlled by the Big Three telecom companies (Rogers, Telus, BCE.)

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089556)

I agree. This is a victory against corruption as much as it is victory for internet usage in Canada. I really don't believe this would have happened if the liberals had been in power.

why is everything tagged "slashdot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089282)

are you afraid people will see the awful design and think they're on digg or something?

something wonderful (2)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089284)

I was really hoping this would happen. Rogers and bell were getting killed by 'little guy' ISP's so they tried to squeeze them out with bandwidth caps, now that that is going away hopefully rogers and bell will be forced to remove their caps too.

Re:something wonderful (1)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089582)

Unfortunately the number of Canadians using the alternatives is relatively small, so I don't think they're getting 'killed' just yet. However, I think there may be a big unintended consequence: a large number of Canadians just realized that there are cheaper alternatives that provide unlimited bandwidth thanks to all the press this generated.

does not compute (1, Troll)

jcombel (1557059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089290)

i hate every unlimited-only package that i have

AT&T moving to tiered pricing on their mobile internet saved me $240/year

why consumers think they want fewer options is beyond me

Re:does not compute (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089382)

What was happening is that options were being taken away. Small ISP companies were going to die a swift death... removing our choices.

Re:does not compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089386)

Read the TFA, canadians do not wan't fewer options, they wan't more. The CRTC was imposing small providers to stop offering unlimited plans and the limits and overcharge were to be regulated. The big providers (who are also contents distributors) were pushing for this.

Re:does not compute (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089508)

AT&T moving to tiered pricing on their mobile internet saved me $240/year

That's awesome. I'm glad that option was available for you to save money. However, tiered pricing would not save me money and would severely limit how I prefer to use my mobile device.

For example I ride the bus to and from work and work out several times a week. During the commute and while on the treadmill I enjoy watching Netflix on my phone. 45 minutes of Netflix appears to create about 250MB of data transfer. I'd wipe out AT&T's monthly limit right off the bat.

So while it works for you and you find it to be useless to have an unlimited account, I'm glad that the option existed when I signed up for a contract and that it continues for me to this day.

french canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089310)

"CRTC put data overage rates at CAN $1.90 per gigabyte for most of Canada, and $2.35 for the country's French-speaking region."

at least they're making french canadians pay more.

Salute to Harper !!!! (1)

Greefer (779397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089328)

A commander in chief with the best interest of the public in mind. Im glad I voted for him.

Re:Salute to Harper !!!! (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089384)

You seriously think Harper is doing this because it's in the best interests of the public? Hell no. This has become a political hot potato because of public outrage. None of the parties want to back Bell on this issue. The CRTC is a fucking joke, and it should be completely dissolved on the basis of recent decisions like this.

Re:best interests (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089666)

In a horribly clunky square wheel fashion, it is the best interests of the public.
1. Make terrible policy
2. Outrage threatens political viability
3. Reverse terrible policy *in the best interests of the public*

It's just a pity that the process requires way too much artificially amplified drama. Oh look, drama sells TWO copies of a news media exposure - one for the bad policy, one for the reversal.

Re:best interests (4, Insightful)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089750)

I'm all for hating on Harper, but to be fair on this particular issue, it was the CRTC and not Harper who made the decision. I honestly don't believe that Harper was specifically aware of this until it became a PR nightmare. The main problem in this case is that the CRTC is appointed and not elected, and it's made up mostly of former telecom employees. Their recent decisions have shown that they either a) have no understanding of Internet issues at all, or b) simply favour major telecoms by default and are corrupt asshats. Or maybe both.

Re:Salute to Harper !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089436)

even a broken clock with no moving parts is right atmost once a day.

Re:Salute to Harper !!!! (1)

Punko (784684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089544)

He's not the commander-in-chief.

Re:Salute to Harper !!!! (1)

warren.oates (925589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089804)

"He's not the commander-in-chief."

No he's bloody-well not! Our government isn't set up that way. Harper's probably the worst PM ever.

The CRTC has to be seen to be an independent body, at least until they've made a ruling. Of course Harper will overturn this one -- there's an election coming up and the middle classes are the ones who vote and have the Internet connections and pay the most taxes and want their streaming video without a "surtax" from Bell Canada (which is run by French Canadians, as it happens).

Re:Salute to Harper !!!! (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089780)

are you kidding me? Harper has been bending over and taking it from American big business since he got into office. Just every once in awhile his self-preservation and what canadians want coincides.

Balance as usual. (5, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089346)

The CRTC has a fair number of ex-industry executives on the board.

Apparently none were ex-Netflix.

Re:Balance as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089488)

If your an ex-netflix it mean you are an average employee who got a very generous severance pay so that your manager doesn't feel bad about letting you go!

so maybe there's more ex-netflix employee than you think on the board :)

There, fixed it for you (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089388)

The CRTC has an unfair number of ex-industry executives on the board."

There, I fixed it for you.

* * *

Here is one of the most influential documents [dslreports.com] sent to the federal cabinet that led to the eventual ressicion.

Facebook isn't so bad, in this case.. (1)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089430)

I have to say, while I, like many /. users, don't like facebook, I strongly believe that the "laymen" internet users were informed about this horribleness through social networks such as facebook. I for one was able to inform over 15 "friends" (we'll use that term, I guess) and all of my family (none who are geeks) through facebook about this issue, and they all signed up because I was able to explain it well (i.e. you're going to pay more for internet).

So perhaps facebook has its place. In any case, I'm really happy this is happening, because it makes me sick to think how the CRTC is able to screw Canadians so easily to help corporations. What a sad government we have.

Re:Facebook isn't so bad, in this case.. (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089586)

I believe you mean the general power of the internet to inform people of breaking news. Facebook is a subset of networked people, and I feel there's trouble there siphoning off the praise for the general internet as support for a specific entity like Facebook. I'll leave it to my betters to quote the fallacy involved, but it is at the heart of all the flaws of marketing.

Re:Facebook isn't so bad, in this case.. (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089784)

This is an issue people can understand. "Bell & Rogers are going to charge you more to watch youtube to fatten their profits" is easily understood by everybody. Bell & Rogers are two of the most loathed entities in the country, right up there with the CRTC. So, this one is easy to get people riled up about.

Toss in a minority government that really can't afford to ignore people, and you have swift action.

It doesn't work on everything. Their DRM bill has serious problems, but try explaining that to your mom? Good luck.

Not yet a victory (3, Insightful)

ark1 (873448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089564)

“If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.” What is likely to happen is that the CRTC will go back to the drawing board and will propose another solution. Perhaps they will make some concessions or perhaps they will find a more subtle way of screwing the little guy. Also when politicians get involved, you have to wonder whats the hidden agenda. There is a looming threat of a new election in Canada and being on the side of the population will get them a few much needed extra votes. Should they get what they want, which is a majority, I say watch out. I'm certainly happy that something is being done but I don't expect the fight to be over.

Re:Not yet a victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089826)

The CRTC's Chairman is standing in front of parliament this afternoon at 4 pm EST to defend this asinine decision.

On this issue, i support "paying for what you use" but that is NOT what Bell/Rogers/Shaw/Telus are imposing.

They are asking for "punish you for using what you pay for".

What would you say if you were a widget reseller, and after purchasing 100 widgets from your distributor for 10 cents a piece, they told you that you could only sell them for 10 cents a piece now too, otherwise you would be undercutting their own widget business.

And people "even" download software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089638)

FTA: "Businesses and consumers are increasingly relying on the Internet to download videos, documents and even software."

Wow, software! Who would have ever thought that people would download THAT?

Election season (2)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089680)

... because the Conservatives can't risk having 350,000 disgruntled voters in an election season.

Re:Election season (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089860)

The Conservatives aren't stupid, they would potentially risk an entire generation of upcoming voters who aren't being raised on cable, they're using social networks and streaming video.

Faith in humanity... (1)

shovas (1605685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089710)

restored!

It may be about Canadian content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089742)

Canadian radio and television stations have Canadian content rules. The rules are largely responsible for the Canadian music industry.

The rules started in the early 1970s and were intended to make sure Canadians could hear their own stories and music. Until then, almost all pop music heard on Canadian commercial radio came from south of the border.

Observing that most of the music on commercial radio was crap, one wit quipped that: "Our crap is at least as good as American crap."

The CRTC is responsible for enforcing the Canadian content rules. Their logic may have been something like the following:

If people can use streaming media in place of over the air or cable delivered broadcasting, we will no longer be able to ensure that Canadian artists can fairly compete in the market place. Canadian culture, as we know it, may be in jeopardy. If we make it too expensive for Canadians to stream all of their media from the United States, we can protect Canadian culture.

BALLS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089802)

Our politicians do have balls! Unless of course it's only because they want to implement a new internet tax.....

CRTC = Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089840)

CRTC = "Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission" not "Canadian Radio and Television Commission"

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