On Saturday, 5th of February, between 12h and 15h will hold a protest against the latest CRTC changes on Internet connectivity. The meeting meeting is at Dorchester Square, Montreal, for 11:45.
The CRTC recently passed a ruling allowing Bell Canada to force all Internet service providers (ISP) renting their “last mile” DSL network to adopt usage based-billing (UBB) and, as a direct effect, made the Internet bills of thousands of Canadians go up drastically.
Usage based-billing (UBB) is a term employed by the industry to describe a billing scheme where your monthly usage affects the amount you have to pay at the end of your billing cycle.
Bell and the CRTC are now imposing this billing scheme on thousands of alternative ISP’s subscribers, many of which moved to independent networks in order to avoid being billed on usage in the first place. This move also completely removes any alternatives for customers who try to avoid surcharges as Bell now decides how much usage the customers of these ISP are allowed to use per month before being hit by surcharges.
In effect, the CRTC decision completely removed any competition in the Internet service sector. No longer can a consumer, when faced with unreasonable limits and hefty surcharges on its DSL line, change to a small alternative DSL ISP with unlimited traffic.
Since Bell demands got approved by the CRTC, customers of these alt-ISP started receiving notices that their once unlimited Internet access was now limited to 60 GB per month. That may seem like a lot, but on a typical 5 Mbps DSL line, this limit can be reached in 28 hours (or a little less than an hour of downloading per day). Bell argued to the CRTC that the move was to put an economic deterrent on heavy Internet users. Does downloading/uploading for 28 hours in a month (a little less than an hour per day) makes you a heavy user? We don’t believe so. Instead, the surcharges now have the effect to make online content too expensive to consume. You can say goodbye to Last.fm, Netflix, Skype and even YouTube. Can’t contact your relatives overseas via Skype because the Internet is too expensive? Use Bell Phone. Can’t watch your favorite movie on Netflix because that would push you over your monthly usage allowance? Get Fibe TV (which, coincidently, is being streamed to your house using the same “congested” network). This decision also increases the price of data access all over Canada. If your job depends on the Internet or that your studies require you do download and work with big datasets, you will end up paying more at the end of the month. How much are those surcharges in Quebec? 2$ per GB. Yet, according to Netflix’s CEO Reed Hasting, it costs ISPs about 0.02$ to handle 1 GB of data. Now that consumers are getting gouged by their ISP (on Bell’s behalf) and can no longer afford to enjoy multimedia on the net, Bell no longer have to worry about their competition in the ISP and home entertainment sector.
We ask for your support. Come and voice your opinion on an open and unmetered Internet in Canada.
Everyone coming to the event please print off a petition and bring it with you!
Links and information
Stop The Meter Petition: http://www.stopthemeter.ca/
More information on UBB and how it affects you: