Canadians: help fight UBB

ThraxThrax 🐌Austin, TX Icrontian
edited February 2011 in Internet & Media
What is UBB?
UBB, or usage-based billing, is a policy enacted by the CRTC, which states as of March 1, 2011, all customers that depend on Bell infrastructure for their DSL service will pay $1.90 per gigabyte of data used above their cap.

As an initial foray into this price scheme, customers of 5Mbps DSL service from Bell (or any ISP that depends on Bell, like TekSavvy) will have their monthly bandwidth capped to just 25GB. Other ISPs that have not been approved for this measure by the CRTC, such as Shaw, have followed suit anyhow. To put it in perspective: 25GB is approximately seven movies streamed on Netflix.

A cap of 25GB is ONE EIGHTH the volume currently offered for approximately $32 CAD. In other words, bandwidth just went from 15 cents per gig to $1.27 per gig--OR MORE.

Customers can also purchase blocks (PDF) of "insurance," which provide extra data usage:
  • $4.75 - 40GB extra usage
  • $9.50 - 80GB extra usage
  • $14.25 - 120GB extra usage (maximum 3 blocks)
  • $55.00 – 298GB extra usage (maximum 299GB extra usage in Quebec)

To get the same 200GB Internet package that will disappear on March 1, it will cost $50.95. That's a price increase of 59% for the same level of service.

This policy will be adopted by more ISPs, because it stands to make them an incredible amount of money. Even though it costs less than one cent to deliver 1GB of data to your home, Bell can now generate $1.89 in profit--that is about 19000% PURE PROFIT IN THEIR POCKETS.

Do you really think that Rogers, Canada's only other major infrastructure provider, won't follow suit? There goes all of the cable connections.

5 Reasons Why UBB Sucks
  1. Bell's Internet infrastructure was heavily subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. Your investment has been twisted into an instrument of enormous profit at your expense.
  2. The new caps implemented for 5Mbps DSL customers are so low that 6-7 Netflix movies are enough to break the cap. How about STEAM? Just one 8GB game like Metro2033 is a quarter of your cap. Data thereafter costs $1.27-$1.90 per gigabyte, which is up to 19000% profit for Bell.
  3. The service purchased for each dollar you spend with your ISP has been reduced by EIGHT TIMES.
  4. Telecommuting, digital delivery services, eCommerce and other Internet-enabled business is significantly threatened by this maneuver. With a 25GB cap, the digital economy of Canada is under great threat from consumers that must consciously weigh the merit of visiting your site or using your service.
  5. Bell is the leading provider of on-demand television service in Canada, making this a monopolistic and anti-competitive attack on Canadians. Bell TV is now the cheaper option, because the CRTC has granted Bell the authority to force competition out of the market with impossible pricing.

  1. Write your MP and demand an end to Bell's anti-competitive pricing racket. Tell them that Bell is pricing legitimate competitors to their services--such as on-demand video and Internet service--right out of the market. Also complain that their price scheme exerts monopolistic control on the market. Finally, threaten to vote for another party (such as NDP, which has come out against UBB) if UBB is not killed.
  2. Call the Canadian Competition Bureau and file a complaint. Tell them that Bell is pricing legitimate competitors to their services--such as on-demand video and Internet service--right out of the market. Also complain that their price scheme exerts monopolistic control on the market.
  3. Call the CRTC and file the same complaint as #2.
  4. Visit and sign their online petition in protest of UBB.
  5. Contact the office of PM Stephen Harper and reiterate all the points in #1.
  6. Involve other corporations! Write Valve, Apple, Google, Netflix and other bandwidth-heavy companies and let them know that the CRTC's ruling will result in less money spent on their services in the future. Make it an issue with THEIR bottom line as it is with yours.

Do not let a virtual monopoly drive Canadian Internet 20 years backwards when the Internet is more essential than ever to business, entertainment and education. Please act now.


  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    Stop all your Canadianess.
  • waxwax the neroberg Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    i couldn't think of a joke including all of these so i'll just list them off:
    · aboot
    · sowwry
    · canadian bacon
    · poutine
    · bag of milk
  • ardichokeardichoke Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    This is how the Internet dies, not with a bang but with a gag as a bunch of profiteering gluttons choke the life out of it while regulators turn a blind eye.
  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    So profiteering isn't just an American phenomenon. Good to know that big business is an equal opportunity butt fucker.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    ardichoke wrote:
    This is how the Internet dies, not with a bang but with a gag as a bunch of profiteering gluttons choke the life out of it while regulators turn a blind eye.

    This. UBB is a perfect example of why everyone needs to be paying attention to legislation trends regarding technology, especially net neutrality. This is serious stuff that affects all of us. How much longer until lazy end users actually start taking this stuff seriously?

    Make some noise, people. Put a stop to this crap.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited January 2011
    If you are at a loss for words here is a letter a friend of my has sent off to various MP's.
    Here's a copy of what I emailed to Baird and what I snail mailed to Tony Clement, Minister for Industry
    Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal Digital Critic
    Charlie Angus, NDP Digital Critic

    If anyone can suggest any recipients, let me know:

    I am contacting you in your role as X. I would like to ask how the Government of Canada expects the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Telecom Decision CRTC 2011-44 will improve internet access for Canadians, or even help to grow the market. Neither Bell nor Rogers have invested in infrastructure improvements. The fees demanded by Bell are far in excess of the actual costs of delivering the bandwidth. Further, the infrastructure for Bell was laid down in cooperation with and through the investment of the Government of Canada, and therefore its citizens. These same citizens are now being asked to pay again.

    Given that your party claims to support free market principles, is it not hypocritical to then accept a dual-monopoly, or oligarchy, in regards to one of the most important—if not the most important—communications medium of the 21st century? It appears evident that this is simply an attempt by Rogers and Bell to protect their TV broadcast businesses from Netflix and other Internet-based streaming media. As such, your government is selling Canada’s technological future in order to allow two businesses to avoid addressing a change in the market. Netflix is capitalizing on a new entertainment delivery paradigm, while Rogers and Bell are attempting to protect their hegemony of the old paradigm.

    If your party believes in the platitudes it espouses, it should be moving to break up the monopolies that have a stranglehold on Canada’s internet delivery. Canada should be in the forefront of innovation. Making speeches about meeting the challenges of the coming century mean nothing when one does not act to allow Canada to do just that.

    Thank you for your time and your consideration.


    Seriously this bill is really killing Canadian internet competition and performance. We are already far behind many other countries in service availability and pricing. This almost sets us back to the stone ages.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited January 2011
    Here is the letter I sent to my MP:
    Dear Ms. Martha Hall Findlay:

    My name is Robert Hallock, and I am an American citizen that has recently moved to your riding on a two-year work visa with the promise of a better job and a better life. Though I have only been here a short while, I am already proud of the part I am playing in Canada's rich heritage with foreign workers and citizens like myself.

    Much to my dismay, however, the CRTC has recently issued a ruling that has made me question Canada's long-held position as a bastion of social and economic progressiveness. That ruling is as follows:, "Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives". This legislation has finally come to implementation as of March 1, 2011 and I am positive that it is not in the best interest of Canada as a G8 member of an increasingly Internet-driven global economy. The pro-UBB ruling will allow Bell Canada to leverage its incumbency and oligopolistic status to:
    1. Dictate the price of Internet service in Canada, which blatantly represents an anti-competitive scenario.
    2. Establish a protectionist racket of its Internet and video on demand (VOD) services, which forces viable competitors out of the market with prices that cannot be competed against.
    3. Force Canadians to seriously consider a drastic reduction in the amount of money they spend online to download digital content from Canadian businesses. Books, videos and music are all at risk.

    How can this be?

    Bell Canada already gets a significant monthly fee for each ISP to which it is leasing unused infrastructure. These ISPs are Canadian companies like TekSavvy and Acanac that are leasing this infrastructure from Bell. These ISPs are also required to pay for the data delivered to their customers. At no point along the way does Bell incur any charges related to the amount of data downloaded by the customers of the ISPs that lease Bell infrastructure. In other words, Bell is generating 100% profit on a service that quite literally costs them nothing to provide.

    I believe in paying for what I consume. I pay for hydro, I pay my taxes, I pay for my gas... but I pay for all of this at competitive rates. The UBB decision outlines charges that Bell collects at a 19000% markup over the actual costs. This is incredibly unreasonable and I believe that it is merely a protectionist maneuver to protect Bell services, which do not count against their new charges and limits, from non-Bell services that have proved more popular. These non-Bell services include Amazon Music, Netflix, AppleTV and Skype. Even services that do not directly conflict with Bell are also threatened. These services include Steam, YouTube, Flickr and World of Warcraft. Even educational and informational sites are now under serious threat of being inaccessible to Canadians without a real and unacceptable financial risk to Internet users.

    As of March 1, 2011 Bell will be allowed to collect nearly $2.00/GB of traffic that millions of users consume over 25 GB per month, despite the fact that my Internet provider--Canadian firm TekSavvy Inc.--is already paying Bell for the data that the customers consume. Let me make that plain: TekSavvy already pays Bell twice for the data TekSavvy customers download, but it costs Bell less than one penny per gigabyte to deliver it. Bell will now collect nearly $2.00 for that.

    Usage Based Billing (UBB) is not about Bell recouping the costs associated with delivering the Internet to Canadians. That's a privilege the taxes of hard-working Canadians already paid for by heavily subsidizing the Canada-wide deployment of Bell's network. This ruling is all about discouraging competition, discouraging choice, and discouraging customers from choosing services that do not come from the Bell hegemony. Do you not think they Bell is worried worried that people will watch TV shows on the Internet from a source other than CTV Media, which Bell owns and operates on their network?

    I cannot fight this with my vote, but I am a voice in your country all the same. I implore you to take action against this issue at a federal level. The CRTC's UBB ruling is an anti-competitive, monopolistic move that will serve only to pad the profits of a huge company that is acting only in its own best interests, not the interests of the Canadian consumers or Canada's place in an economy that is increasingly dependent on the inexpensive flow of culture and knowledge.

    I appreciate your time and consideration,

    Robert Hallock
    (Address redacted)
    Phone: (Redacted)
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited February 2011
    Seems the Libs and The NDP are jumping on the opposition bandwagon. Even if they are just doing it for political grandstanding I'm not going to complain. Now even Clement and Harper are kinda sorta maybe looking into how this bill may be a bad thing.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited February 2011
    The Toronto Sun and Globe and Mail report today that the government will be overturning UBB if the CRTC doesn't do it itself!
  • QuadWhoreQuadWhore Toledo, Ohio, U.S. Icrontian
    edited February 2011
    If this was in the U.S., I would totally go for the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but, since it's in Canada...

    I'll try and support.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited February 2011
    So seems CRTC is back to the drawing board. However that doesn't mean we will won't see usage caps and overage charges. All it means is they have to come up with a more agreeable pricing structure. We aren't out of the woods yet and there are other issues at hand. Like Bell dictating what speed of service people are allowed to purchase through other ISP's.

    For example. Bell offer's 250k 5mb and 10mb plans. 250k has a 3gb cap, 5mb is 50, 10mb is 70 or something like that. So to be able to get the 5mb plan they do a line sync test and if you can't sync to 5m you are stuck with the 250k plan. They won't allow you to go for the 5mb plan even if you want to being fully aware you may only sync to 4mb. Now what really sucks is that if you want to go with another provider they still have to get permission from Bell to give you access to a 5mb plan and not the 250k plan. So coming or going Bell has you cold.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI Icrontian
    edited February 2011
    Wow. That's ridiculous.
  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited February 2011
    It's just the next step. The UK has had (fair usage policy) metering for a while with several starting to actively look at UBB when customers break the cap.

    We are are also equally stuck with a monolithic incumbent (BT).

    I don't support UBB as it degrades the end user experience (as Thrax rightly says) but I can also see the reason for it.

    I disagree with the notion that it costs less than 1c to deliver to the home. That's marketing bollocks (politely) as no argument I see on the wonderful intraweb ever looks at the big picture.

    Keeping it simple, Bell (and associated sub companies) is NOT a Tier-1 provider. They have to transit (pay for) some of their traffic leaving their AS. I believe they have some peering (mutual swapping of traffic with no cost) with major upstream providers to the USA. What I cannot see if the market value for a peer agreement with Bell. Bell don't appear (at least on the surface) to offer many high value global services that are homed with in their network that generates a compelling reason to peer with them.

    Transit costs. It's simple economics. The more you use, the more it costs. The cheaper your service, the smaller the margin.
  • GooDGooD Quebec (CAN) Member
    edited February 2011
    Wow i really hope i wont ever see this kind of thing implemented in Canada. Internet already cost a arm and a leg to get a decent one (fast / high bandwidth), with this kind of rule it could cost event more to get less than what i have right now.

    Petition signed and mail sent to MP and local media.
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