Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hard rain falling on CRTC

Next time I share some corporate sushi with my good friend Phil Lind I am going to have to explain how it was I came to the defense of the CRTC. Now usually when Phil and I get together and talk about the CRTC the topic of the best way to blow it up for crimes real (fee for carriage)or imagined (cant think of any right now :-)usually comes up in the conversation. Luckily Phil being a mellow force in the media world usually calms me down. But even so how to explain this blog to Phil where in the midst of corporate nashing of teeth over fee for carriage and potential ISP taxes, I find myself actually challenging an online petition called disolvethecrtc.ca aimed at shutting down the CRTC and replacing it with some secretariat or politburo with delegated authority to speak on behalf of the people.

The premise of the petition seems to be that the CRTC is too reflective of corporate interests and not concerned with the public voice. Now this comes as a surprise to me since I measure my effectiveness from various cuts and bruises recieved from regulators ( I should be out of hospital soon,thanks for asking). That's why on bad days I yell like some corporate anarchist about blowing up the CRTC,Industry Canada or whatever government body has upset me.

Yet I must admit as a revolutionary, I am clearly not worthy . For as reported through the blogoshere and on cbc.ca the petition to disolve the CRTC has legs .The CRTC's crime you ask having waded through 3 paragraphs to get here? Well crime of the century. The CRTC approved a Bell tariff that included consumption -based rates for wholesale services. Now maybe I am old fashioned and out of touch (don't comment back, your repartee would be too obvious) but when did it become a crime for an economic regulator to approve a bulk rate that varied on volume consumed? Isn't that how most products are priced ? Take other regulated products like electricity or water.

The petition shows the power of the Internet to change things . And it is a powerful tool indeed but also a dangerous one . As powerful as the Internet is for the power to communicate and share ideas it is also a powerful tool to affect political power in good and bad ways depending on who manipulates the tool. In this case what egregious crime was commited? None that I can see although as in any regulatory decision affecting price there are winners and losers (and I have seen lots of losses ).

Stuff that comes out of the Internet like disolvethecrtc is often good as quick news and fun for those of us that increasingly process information in tweets and blackberry messages. The validity of the arguments behind this petition only make sense if you dont think about them ;actually a new type of thinking now popularized in a world of instant messaging where reason is made sacrifice to speed, emotion trumps rational thought and gossip and inuendo can have as much force as fact.

Not thinking too hard is a recipe for chaos. As powerful as as the Internet is for a rebalancing of power in a democartic sense, it is also open to manipualtion in a world where the time for sober second though gets lost in the noise.

Thus my support for the CRTC on this one .It is well within their mandate to do this . And yes maybe we do need a new approach to regulation, but surely before we do that government,users and suppliers in the ICT and digital media realm need to keep working towards some consensus on a national strategy . The design of regulatory bodies should follow the strategy not lead it.

The Internet is a powerful tool for change. It has been used to provide voice to those that had none in an analog world. It was used to elect a President. But its a tool that often sways opinion without fact or attribution. As the Internet becomes a tool to affect power it will be increasingly adopted by the powerful (like political machines in Chicago). Its a two edged sword and it enables quick learning. Imagine a couple of old GR warhorses over some corporate (yet sustainable ) sushi suddenly seeing the light. Imagine if they decided that rather than advocating blowing up the CRTC when it did bad things to their interests ,they help fund viral campaigns to blow up the CRTC for totally unrelated reasons that the Internet rebels thought were their own .Hmm welcome to the future where it will be increasingly hard to figure out who's agenda is whose .

Note to self .Call Phil .Got an idea.

46 comments:

  1. An interesting rebuttal to the petition but I'm sorry, your logic is flawed. The CRTC specifically exists to ensure proper competitiona and the best operating environment for Canadian *consumers*. their own web site says as much. Applying an unnecessary UBB pricing model to all carriers is not encouraging competition, it is squashing it.

    Carriers have gone without UBB for a long time now and are all making money. The smaller ISPs who don't have the buying power of Bell Canada are profitable, as it Bell itself. So why is it needed now? Very simple: Because Bell also offers TV service and want people paying for overpriced channel packages rather than getting their shows a la carte online. That's all this is about and it is the dictionary definition of anti-competitive behaviour. And the CRTC is letting them do it because it is staffed with ex big telecom executives who still have a vested interest in seeing this happen. The petition's goal isn't to eliminate the CRTC, it is to dissolve the current, obviously corrupt board and replace it with one that doesn't have close ties to the very industry they're supposed to be regulating.

    Bell Canada treats third parties and their customers like garbage already, despite taking over 2/3 of the fee I pay for my third party DSL service. They provide abysmal service (including making appointments and never showing up), they imposed throttling on bandwidth that they do not own (TekSavvy doesn't buy bandwidth from Bell so what right do they have to throttle it?) and now they're trying to take us back to the dark ages with UBB that isn't economically necessary, doing so only to protect an antequated business model. Sounds a lot like the RIAA and MPAA to me.

    And the CRTC's answer to this is to impose the same restrictions on everyone and that *encourages* competition? Give me a break. If Bell can't compete against nimbler and most progressive small companies, they need to adjust their business in order to do so. The role of government isn't to protect the biggest players, it is to ensure the smaller ones have a chance against them.

    The CRTC is failing Canadians and if the people currently in charge of it cannot live up to the mandate they were put there for, they need to step aside.

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  2. The reason that this is a big deal is because wholesalers are now being charged twice for consumption. The wholesale tariff already covered consumption (app. $1800/Gbps) now they're being charged again for it, when they were already paying for it in the first place!

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  3. Could you please point to one other country in the devlopped world that has UBB.

    Until then Shut your Pie Hole. (Insert Carrier Here) do not have the right to TAX ALL INFORMATION THAT ENTERS THE COUNTRY.

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  4. "when did it become a crime for an economic regulator to approve a bulk rate that varied on volume consumed?"

    The problem is the result: the decision seriously harms Wholesellers' ability to compete with incumbents, as their pricing model is now practically imposed by Bell. Enabling competition to balance a natural monopoly (the last mile) was the goal of the Tariffs after all.

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  5. Where the CRTC makes an error in fact or logic, a more effective approach is to apply for a review of the decision, not to blow up the decisionmaker.

    Coming next week: people disagree with Supreme Court of Canada -- Supreme Court to be dissolved as a result. Wait, no.

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  6. Oh yes, ask for a review of the decision. A review that will be conducted by the very people who made it. What could possibly go wrong?! Please.

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  7. How about an analogy...
    I walk into a restaurant and order all you can eat lobster.. The restaurant charges me 150$ for that all you can eat lobster.. I eat more and more.. then i finish. The restaurant gives me the bill- i pay it.. then, i walk out of the restaurant and the maritimer that caught the lobster gives me a bill as well saying that I ate more than what he feels is a regular sized meal... do we 1) push the guy aside and keep walking, or 2) make a law stating that anytime we eat more than what the fisherman feels is necessary, we need to pay the restaurant and then pay the fisherman as well!

    Its time we push Bell Canada aside!

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  8. ... and then, if the review can be shown to make errors of fact and law, the Federal Court of Appeal has jurisdiction. And then the Supreme Court.

    That is, if you haven't dissolved those, too, for daring to come to a different conclusion than you.

    Or, on the other hand, we could just go around and eliminate all of the tribunals with whose decisions we disagree. What could possibly go wrong there, Gerry?

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  9. All infrastructure that Bell has installed to bring telephone lines into our house - i.e. the only point at which Bell actually "owns" between a wholesale ISP and a consumer, was paid for by taxpayers. That's our infrastructure. We paid for the poles, the cables, the installation, the digging and the construction.

    Now Bell, standing on a position of controlling the infrastructure that we paid for through our taxes is telling us that we can't pay for traffic that we want through another retailer.

    Bell is a troll at a bridge, demanding fees for passing over a bridge we built.

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  10. We're not asking for the elimination of other tribunals so you can drop the straw man argument.

    This isn't about that the CRTC made a decision we disagree with. This is because they made a decision that is clearly against their mandate and which was proven by buckets of documentation (including much of Bell's own submissions, at least the ones they didn't get hidden from the public record) to be completely unnecessary in the context of why Bell said they needed this ruling. This is like a judge ruling against a case where innocence was proven beyond any doubt. The difference is that if you file for appeal of that decision, it isn't the judge who made it that gets to rule on whether or not it stands.

    I am curious about what you said though in that if the decision is reviewed and is deemed to be in error, that the Federal Court of Appeal has say over it. Do you have a link on this? I'm not doubting you, I'm just curious to check this out as I didn't realise there was a point at which the courts had a say in the process of the CRTC without a lawsuit.

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  11. Gerry, "clearly" is not really for you to decide; we have neutral bodies (like the CRTC) and courts (which review the CRTC) to do that. "Straw man" is not applicable because you have not, thus far, demonstrated how your proposal of dissolution as a response to your personal opinion that the tribunal is wrong, would apply any more in another instance than in this one.

    Finally, on the Federal Court of Appeal and so forth, I would suggest you google (or bing) "Telecommunications Act". I am not sure what you mean by "without a lawsuit" but, of course, when we go to court with an allegation that a body has made a decision that is clearly against its mandate, thus far they have tended to require proof and arguments and that sort of thing, rather than simply taking your word for it.

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  12. Gerry Corcoran,

    CRTC decisions are appealable to the Federal Court of Appeal with leave on issues of law or jurisdiction pursuant to section 64 of the Telecommunications Act within 30 days of the decision. CRTC decisions can also be appealed to Cabinet pursuant to section 12 of the Act within 90 days of a decision. With respect to the Petition to Cabinet, the Governor in Council can by order, vary or rescind a Commission decision or refer it back to the Commission for reconsideration.

    See below for statutory references.

    http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showdoc/cs/T-3.4//20090818/en?page=1

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  13. Your argument is a straw man because you are drawing in other elements to the argument that are not relevant and trying to apply them to this context. Trying to disprove our current argument by referencing other arguments we are not making doesn't help the discussion.

    The CRTC is not acting like a neutral body which is the root cause of this whole situation. They were presented with mounds of evidence (some are saying the largest volume of submissions in their history) to show that what Bell was requesting was not necessary and that it was only acting in their own self interests. Even a lot of Bell's own documentation (that which Bell didn't manage to get made secret, why is this permitted in a public regulator?) showed the move wasn't necessary and that it was little more than an attempt to retain market conditions in a state most favourable to the antequated business model they insist on clinging to. Yet, the CRTC ruled in their favour anyway, against all evidence. A properly neutral body is supposed to look at all the evidence and judge based on that. To blatantly ignore it all in the way they did is evidence (albeit anecdotal) of either corruption or incompetence. I would be more willing to assume the latter if their entire board didn't consist of ex executives of big telecom companies, the only ones who stand to benefit from this ruling.

    If their decisions can be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal, that is a very good thing and I hope that such a fight is waged and won (though of course, the ones bearing the brunt of the expensive are the small ISPs who can least afford it.) But as long as this supposedly neutral body is staffed by people with a vested interest in favourable outcomes for big telecom, there is no guarantee that this will not continue. Court challenges should be a last resort, they shouldn't be necessary to insure fairness. The current CRTC is not impartial or neutral and the only way to insure that is to replace them with people who do not have a vested interest in certain outcomes.

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  14. Gerry, most CRTC Commissioners are not ex-telco execs. CRTC Chair was a judge and head of Competition Bureau. Vice-Chair Len Katz was Rogers Exec. Commissioner Denton represented independent ISPs on many occassions.Lamarre from CBC.Cugini from Alliance Atlantis etc.
    In terms of evidence nothing beats the Long Distance Competition proceeding of 1991-92 which produce 50,00 pages

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  15. I'm sorry, Mr. Hennessy, but Len Katz was a Bell employee for 11 years, and a Rogers employee for 17 years.
    www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/about/katz.htm
    Other commisoners have also worked either directly for big telecom or for subsidiaries of those corporations.

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  16. Gerry,

    In reading your first post, I must say without being too glib, you're a prodigious motive generator. According to you, this is about TV channel packages over a la carte online viewing. According to you, this is because the CRTC is staffed with ex-telco folks.

    Where are your mounds of evidence, okay, any evidence for these allegations? While we're at it, do you know where the guy on the grass knoll is? [Generational hint: Dallas 1963 - wikipedia it]. Oh, and the DaVinci Code is fiction - it didn't really happen. Does it surprise you that some Commissioners may have worked in the industry and in fact, for independent ISPs too? It's a sector specific regulator. It's a far cry from that to what you allege. I guess that passes for evidence in your mind.

    Life is longer than a minute, except on Twitter. Sometimes people don't agree with you and sometimes they don't buy your mounds of evidence. Sometimes the CRTC tries to achieve the objectives Parliament has given them and some people are unhappy, because all of those objectives don't neatly align.

    Rather than froth,fume, stamp your feet and make spurious allegations, try putting to the side your deep felt resentments because the regulator disagreed with you. Appeal the decision!

    Really Gerry, you're good enough, you're smart enough and doggone it, people like you.

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  17. To be clear, there are 13 Commissioners, of whom a total of 1 has ever worked for Bell (Len Katz, who spent an equal amount of time at Bell's major competitor, Rogers) and, in addition, 1 has worked at Sasktel. Of the other 11 Commissioners, none has ever worked at any telco.

    Gerry, if the basis for your assumption that the CRTC decision(s) you don't like (and on the basis of which the CRTC should be dissolved) was reached without considering evidence, is that "their entire Board ... consist[s] of ex executives of big telecom companies", then it would not appear a well founded assumption.

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  18. So your solution to my argument is to resort to ad hominem attacks rather than attempt to actually refute anything? Awesome, now we've entered stereotypical blogosphere territory.

    You give me far too much credit for lumping in this entire movement with me and tying it to me personally. The opinions I express here are ones shared by a very large and growing number of consumers (the people whose interests the CRTC is supposed to be on the side of), I just happened to be one of the ones commenting about it in this particular venue. You are of course free to disagree with this viewpoint all you want but to resort to straw men and then personal attacks is something I'd expect more from a cable news channel. You obviously cannot be convinced and that's fine, I have more productive things to do with my time than try to persuade you. I will bow out of the argument with you and let what we've both said stand on its own to those reading.

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  19. I meant to tack this on to the end of my previous post (which was in response to the anonymous post made at 5:58pm just so that's clear) and it slipped my mind.

    For anyone who is either siding with the CRTC's decision or is generally OK with it, I am interested to hear your answers to one question: Why is UBB necessary if for not anti-competitive reasons? As I said in my original post, most major DSL providers are profitable without it, Bell Canada being one of the best examples of this. The majority of the submissions made to the CRTC on this issue have also demonstrated that there is no congestion problem like Bell keeps claiming there is, particularly since most third party ISPs do not buy bandwidth from them. They have the money to continue to invest in their network without UBB. In almost all other developed nations, unlimited Internet access with much higher speeds are also available. By and large, the only ISPs both in Canada and the US that have pushed for heavy throttling and the use of caps or UBB are companies who also provide television service, which is losing subscribers to more intelligent, economical online delivery methods. If not to stop that, why is UBB needed?

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  20. First, Gerry, I would suggest that your time is not best spent responding to the silliest or weakest arguments you can find here -- clearly the poster above isn't being very nice.

    Second, I don't think your question really reflects the debate above. Most of the posts above do not side with the CRTC on its decision re permission to Bell to bill for bandwidth used on its GAS tariff. They point out that, whether or not you agree with the CRTC's reasoning or reasons, dissolving the CRTC is not an appropriate or a useful response. Do you see how these things are different?

    Finally, on usage-based billing itself -- I personally don't have a strong feel one way or the other, but the idea that it can't be okay except for anticompetitive reasons seems a bit hyperbolic to me. It's common in lots of places (Australia comes to mind) and, more importantly, all over the Internet industry, from Internet backbone bandwidth (which is always usage based) to Web hosting, and so forth. Flat rate is very much an exception, and to be frank it may not be a sustainable one. The question in my mind is whether the future usage-based billing retail plans will be simple (like the Internet backbone bandwidth that most ISPs buy in order to provide Internet access -- it's metered pretty simply) or complicated (like cell phone plans, which are usage-based but really hard to understand between the daytimes and evenings and weekends and incomings and outgoings and all the rest of it). But that's very much not the point here.

    Do you see, Gerry, how it is possible to disagree with the CRTC's decision, but not think that it is necessary to abolish the CRTC?

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  21. The problem with UBB isn't the concept itself. You are correct in that UBB exists in some form almost everywhere. To be honest, I don't need unlimited Internet. My current plan allows 200GB/month and I come no where near that. But what Bell is proposing is 60GB before excessive charges kick in. That's nothing to someone who uses the Internet for more than e-mail and Facebook. I rarely use P2P of any kind. But I play a lot of games online, download demos, buy stuff from iTunes, watch YouTube, listen to podcasts, download HD vidcasts and many other things. So do a large and increasing number of Canadians, most of whom go well over 60GB a month. Bell is also proposing overage charges that are dozens of times greater than the going rates for backhaul traffic. Bandwidth is the cheapest it has ever been and companies like TekSavvy which are but a stick of gum in relative size to Bell & Co. can afford to offer unlimited plans to those who want them. If Bell doesn't want to, that's their choice but what right do they have to tell third parties that they can't, especially when based on a false claim that these companies (who don't buy bandwidth from Bell) are somehow congesting their network?

    If Bell can't compete, then they need to wake up and adjust their business model, not go running to the regulator and insist that the unreasonable limits they apply to their customers be applied to everyone to some how create "fair competition." Things like VoIP, IPTV and the prominence of movies and TV shows on iTunes scares the crap out of these major telcos and they should because people are tired of their overpriced TV services and are leaving in droves for these better alternatives. Their solution to this is to impose bandwidth caps on everyone that would have been considered ludicrous 5 years ago.

    Perhaps the most aggravating part of this whole thing is the fact that Bell got this pushed through as a result of failing to file properly! CyberSurf had requested that Bell file new tarrifs which included allowing third parties to offer the same higher speed tiers that Bell offers their own customers (you know, fair competition and all that.) In response, Bell failed to file that tarrif and instead filed another that included other tiers they weren't asked for and the UBB model. The CRTC's response to this was not to reprimand Bell for ignoring their directives but to give interim approval to the filing that did not provide what they were ordered to! What do you call that if not corruption or incompetence?

    The reason this petition exists is not because of this one decision. I can understand how it can be interpreted that way because of its contents. But the CRTC has largely been ignoring consumer interests for years, instead shaping regulation in favour of several large telecom companies. This latest ruling is just the latest in a string of such behaviour and our belief is that this proves they are not capable of living up to their mandate. The CRTC needs new blood, which isn't so closely wed to the industry they are supposed to be regulating. In short, the CRTC needs to start doing their jobs and representing consumers. I defy anyone to make a valid argument for how this ruling benefits anyone who isn't Bell Canada, a company that was very profitable before this.

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  22. Archaic and limited thinking Mr. Hennessy. You are perpetuating the status quo and preventing Canada from advancing technologically. That is unacceptable to us.

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  23. I haven't followed closely the details of this particular tariff, but am curious about the first of your larger claims. To whom do you think the CRTC is closely wed, exactly? Did you note that only 2 of the 13 commissioners have ever worked for a telco?

    On the second, larger claim (a string of behaviour that proves they can't do their job, etc.), this is obviously a very subjective evaluation -- large telcos would obviously claim the opposite. In terms of objective facts, though, how many CRTC telecom decisions have been successfully overturned on review by the Federal Court of Appeal in the last, say, decade?

    Let me go back to the simple point here. Yes, the CRTC could do a better job at lots of things. The way for that to happen is to get involved with the process and to advocate for change. In how many of the regulatory proceedings you are talking about did you file detailed arguments, after all? Exactly.

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  24. I really wish more people would spend a few seconds to attach some kind of ID (doesn't have to be their real names) to their postings so I can tell who I am responding to. I'm not sure how many individuals are participating here.

    There were massive hearings held on this latest issue and huge amounts of filings made. Virtually all of them were against the decision that was made (except the big telco ones naturally) and many came bursting at the seams with intelligent, well documented arguments and yet the CRTC still ruled the other way. How exactly did people advocating for change work out?

    I'd also like to hear your answers to my other points about why UBB is necessary and whether or not you find it acceptable that this all came about because Bell went against the CRTC's orders, filed a completely different tarrif with different items than they were asked for and not only received no punishment for that but also got the directives passed. How can you justify the point of view that the main reason this happened is because people didn't get involved enough?

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  25. "Now maybe I am old fashioned and out of touch (don't comment back, your repartee would be too obvious) but when did it become a crime for an economic regulator to approve a bulk rate that varied on volume consumed? Isn't that how most products are priced ? Take other regulated products like electricity or water"

    What we need to do is separate the costs of generation and transmission here.

    Generating electricity costs money for each unit produced, since some resource is being burned/consumed to generate each kWh. Water treatment and the electricity costs of pumping is similar. This is akin to the content creators of the internet (or TV show producers, or making a movie, etc.).

    Now we have the transmitters. The power grids, water pipes, the TV broadcasters, and yes, the ISPs.

    A power wire, TV antenna, cable distribution system or the ISP infrastructure is mainly a fixed cost. The marginal cost is nearly zero. A power wire or ISP infrastructure cost nearly the same to operate whether it is operating at 0% capacity or 100% capacity. For a distributor to charge based on usage is like a distributor pretending to be a generator.

    There are really two ways of passing on these fixed costs:
    1. Divide the fixed costs by the number of subscribers, tack on a reasonable markup, and charge each person the same amount. This is how we mainly pay for our water and electricity _transmission_ service.
    2. Divide the fixed costs by each subscriber's weighted usage. This is similar to UBB.

    Both are reasonable strategies.
    But to tack on UBB charging (#2) when prices are already covering the fixed costs (#1), which are the only real costs, is double dipping.

    This is like paying for:
    1) The full cost of water pipes to your house (say, $2500)
    2) Paying again for the water pipes to your house as if you didn't do #1, but now billed per litre ($0.10/litre)
    3) Paying for the treatment and pumping of that water ($0.10/litre)


    Indeed, the internet already has plenty of usage-based costs, from the generators, through ads, content subscriptions, etc. Because it is the generators that need a consistent revenue stream to keep creating new things.


    And last I checked, electricity and water pricing is based on actual costs with actual rationale, with the parties publicly coming to the table with their actual costs for any rate increases, rather than hiding behind shrouds of confidential submissions. I could only imagine what an Ontario Energy Board review of the CRTC would say...

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  26. I have to agree 100% with Gerry on this.

    So what if we have to use the twitter affect to acutally capture the attention of the general public. Unless it's scadoulous, the public doesn't normaly give a crap.

    If it's what we have to do to save our internet and getting exposure.

    As Gerry stated... this isn't about one ruling the CRTC has weighed in on. It about the constant factv that the public is being ignored, when they are supposed to be the neutral body!

    It's about time some of the politicians start to listen to us. We have been grumbling for some time now.

    If this petition fails.. it's not the end of the war. It's just a foot in the door and we know those politicians are licking their lips at all these potential votes

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  27. The issue is that the telcoms believe that they own the last mile. My view is that the Canadian public (through legislation, monopolization, etc) own that last mile (although the Telco's are entitled to fair compensation to upgrade the last mile).

    Since when did fair compensation for upgradeing last mile (the "choke" point) include volume? Its a FIXED COST structure.

    While I'm not sure abolishing the CRTC is the right idea, a change in most of the Commissioners and probably a lot of staff(excluding the Chair) is certainly in order. Its become an "old boys club".

    And yes to the commentator, decisions of the CRTC can be appealed. Been there, done that, how deep are your pockets? I'm not interested. I'm interested in a system that is fair to consumers and that is exactly what we don't have now.

    Now - off to sign that petitions and get my friends and neighbours too as well. Where is it again?!

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  28. "Take other regulated products like electricity or water."

    Spoken like someone who's getting padded by Telus.
    Michael, these are PUBLIC commodities. The internet is not (although now it should be) a PUBLICLY traded commodity. The big telco's in the US have been barred from doing the same practice that Bellus/Rogers are doing. They are not interested in anything, but squeezing their competition out, and raising their profits, at the expense of Joe Canadian. Again.

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  29. Throwing out water and electricity regulation as part of your condecension? You're obviously used to debating children and MBAs with a Blackberry. I'm an electrical engineer, PEng, and far from confused.

    Care to debate the actual subject?

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  30. Well first, let me say that I SOMEWHAT agree with UBB. We should control excessive consumers. But as far as I am concerned, the problem is reasonable limits.

    For example, currently, the generally adopted cap for high speed customers is 60gb, with an average speed of 10mbps/s download, and 1mbps/s upload (I am talking as a whole, including retail customers).

    For the typical non-intensive computer user, without kids, they will indeed never go through the 60gb limit. But if you have kids or even do a little, it will go over really quick.

    Let's give some numbers. Your hard drive blows up, and you have to redownload games through Steam (http://www.steampowered.com, a VERY popular game delivery system). Just one standard Team Fortress 2 game can weigh around 3-4GB. If you have more than one game, you can cap out your 60gb in one shot. The same comparison can be made about games being bought on online download retailers such as Direct2Drive (http://www.direct2drive.com), where games in average require a download of 1-2 DVDs (4.3gb per DVD in average).

    Let's go in another usage. Let's say videos. NetFlix is about to come out with a video streaming rental service to watch popular movies online. That will be VERY bandwidth intensive. Some sites, as a matter of fact, already offer that.

    And I also think about the hypocrisy of Cable companies, rolling out DOCSIS 3 on their networks, with BLAZING fast connections (Example: http://www.cogeco.ca/cable/on/en/residential/internet/hsi/explore_hsi.html). but very low caps that you can easily run through in mere hours.

    It's all about following the other developped countries. Canada is stuck in the digital dark ages. We used to have such nice internet access services....

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  31. Did someone really write that the marginal cost of buying Internet backbone bandwidth is zero? And that the marginal cost of then supplying it to customers is zero? Wow.

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  32. The fact that incumbent Telcos are defending the regulator speaks for itself.

    Time to reign in Bell, Rogers and Telus and introduce some real competition. The Canadian public is not stupid and can see the bias of the CRTC.

    At the end of the day, Canada's broadband metrics are slipping against other developed nations and the simple reason is the nice fat profits of the incumbent telcos.

    P.S. Periods at the end of sentences do not have spaces before them. I'd have thought a senior VP would know how to write properly.

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  33. @ Anomymous, August 21, 2009 1:15PM

    As this unfortunate post kindly and clearly demonstrates, technology and jargon make people confused and jumpy.

    Many people like to react without knowing exactly what they're talking about, and like to formulate their own opinions before fully understanding the information in front of them. It is also easy to focus on the terms themselves and forget to notice general English grammar, which adds significant meaning: like the word 'almost', in this case.

    Admittedly, it's easy to get mixed up with all these acronyms and industry-specific terms, especially now that we're referencing both telecommunications as well as financial jargon.

    In my very optimistic opinion, I believe the CRTC may have succumb to this illusion lately when confronted with Bell's lawyers. The lawyers spoke confidently of congestion and the need for network management, while the smaller ISPs bombarded the CRTC with their specific needs, in much more technical terms.

    The overload of different technical data and potential furthermore technical solutions posed by the smaller ISPs suddenly found a backseat to the seemingly clearly outlined plan that Bell had on the table.

    It is reasonable that the CRTC might understand the concept of money much more clearly than traffic management and QoS. However, we are asking that they go beyond this initial state and realize that the technology available to ISPs in this day and age means ever-diminishing technological costs to provide service to customers.

    Technology is making things cheaper than ever for these companies, and yet, we're paying more than ever for service that is mediocre at best; both TV and internet.

    The CRTC was formed to protect consumers from this type of thing happening. Where is the CRTC when we need them? I just hope they're not having lunch with some Bell execs.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What? Transmitting 5 gigabytes or 25 gigabytes costs the same over the same 5mbit/s line. And that is because it is chiefly a fixed cost. The marginal _cost_ of the usage is effectively zero. It costs the same to operate that 5mbit/s link whether it's operating at 5kbit/s or 5mbit/s.

    Running it at 10mbit/s would increase costs, but that would be in capital upgrades, ie: increasing the fixed cost.

    This example works for single point-to-point links, like GAS.

    Is there a problem with my original statement? The example works the same for water pipes or electric wires.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sorry I was actually agreeing with you, whether or not I was clear enough.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This is hilarious. A mouthpiece for a monolithic industry comes down on the side of the CRTC when the CRTC makes a decision that is in favour of the monolithic industry he speaks for. This same mouthpiece then expects us to be astonished that he's on the same side as the CRTC.

    Please, Mr. Hennessy. Pull the other one. It plays "Jingle Bells".

    ReplyDelete
  37. The current Canadian companies are not afraid of competition from each other or Canadian upstarts. They are afraid of competition from the United States. I know I would dump Bell in a second if I could get DirecTV legally.

    As the current system stands, I refuse to get a cell phone. I buy my internet through a local cable cooperative. I'm within an inch of dumping Bell.

    ReplyDelete
  38. CTV and Bell are both owned by Globemedia. Bell complains that the CRTC mandated them to charge for local TV. CTV wanted this money collected, but complains that Bell is passing the cost onto the consumers. How can anyone from Bell or CTV state their positions with a straight face?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jake, Adrian. No, the marginal cost of bandwidth consumption is not generally zero. In rare cases it approaches zero: the hypothetical scenario where the bandwidth being consumed is in an otherwise-uncongested access segment, connects with an otherwise-uncongested upstream segment, and stays on-net, you might make an argument for that.

    However, most traffic does not stay on-net -- especially among Canadian access ISPs. And, no, wholesale Internet bandwidth ain't free, even if as a business it is very competitive indeed. Google "wholesale internet transit rates" or something to learn more.

    (By the way, 7:45 pm, speaking of straight faces: who and what are both owned by whom?)

    ReplyDelete
  40. To 2009-08-25 23:04

    How could I have been more clear? It's publicly available information.

    ReplyDelete
  41. It's the corruption, stupid. Are breech of trust and fraud not indicable offenses? Is the CRTC above the law? Are you above the law?

    Educate yourself about CRTC corruption:
    http://tochat.tv/viewforum.php?f=5

    Can you refute any of the info at tochat.tv?

    Federal Appeals Court is a joke, please cite one ruling they have made that is NOT in the favour of the CRTC.

    How much are you getting paid to be a shill for Bell Canada and /or the CRTC?

    ReplyDelete
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  44. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

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