Article: Unpacking The Policy Issues Behind Bandwidth Caps & Usage Based Billing

Dr. Middleton mentioned Michael Geist’s work during class today, which, coincidentally,  came up in my Twitter stream this morning (via @sidneyeve). Here is his helpful analysis of the policy issue…

Unpacking The Policy Issues Behind Bandwidth Caps & Usage Based Billing

Over the past few weeks, public interest and concern with Internet bandwidth caps has hit a fever pitch as new ISP policies (Shaw and Primus announcing caps) and the CRTC decision on usage based billing has taken the issue to the mainstream – CBC’s the National covered it, George Stroumboulopoulos discussed it, CBC’s Spark talked to several players on the issue, the Globe has highlighted business concerns with bandwidth caps, and there have been numerous op-eds and media articles on the issue.

The Stop the Meter Internet petition now has over 200,000 signatories and is growing fast, which may help explain why UBB has emerged as a political hot potato. The NDP was the first to raise it as a political issue, followed yesterday by a response from Industry Minister Tony Clement (who promised to study the decision carefully “to ensure that competition, innovation, and consumers were all fairly considered”) and the Liberals, who called on the government to reverse the CRTC decision.

Yet despite the obvious anger over the issue, there remains a considerable amount of misinformation about what has happened and uncertainty about just what to do about it.  This post attempts to unpack the issue, by discussing two related but not identical concerns – the recent CRTC UBB decision and the broader use of bandwidth caps by virtually all large Canadian ISPs.

Read more…

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