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Posts Tagged ‘Net neutrality’

I had started writing a rant about the Web Blackout vs SOPA / PIPA bills, but thinking things over the bills are going to fail but not as a result of Blacking out the web. I think the entire idea stands as a ‘this is how shitty things can get’ but as usual it won’t get that shitty because there’s one person at the top paying attention. And it’s not because people were moderately inconvenienced today.

Anyways if you want some lulz from this I highly suggest checking out @herpderpedia and read all the fail that has resulted.

P.S. I’ll probably re-organize my thoughts and write them up for some more shits and giggles when the full fallout from today happens.

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War update

So apparently this entire debate is getting a lot more heated due to the fact there’s potentially a good press story and that the government made some announcement about doing something about the entire issue of User Based Billing for any ISP that isn’t Bell Canada (probably to do things like avoid losing a potential election which would come out of budget problems). However, the problem is quickly being bogged down into saying ‘it’s only 30,000 users who have to worry’ and that they have options and shit. Meanwhile I think the user base is still just saying ‘THIS IS WRONG!!!’ and “You can’t do this!” while getting replies from business that this will create innovation and it’s only fair since bandwidth blaw blaw blaw… Money arguments barely get anywhere and typically just are ignored in the long run. If you’re going to fight, don’t do it over money.

Interestingly one such national news paper, the National Post, decided they would put their old man old thinking logic into this argument and ironically write it on their INTERNET NEWS PAPER BLOG. See, for some time the newspapers have been heavily hit by the internet and how fast news gets around from other sources than a printed paper. Printed news sometimes is rendered obsolete and old by the time it hits the news stands and we only know this because of the constant blogging and writing on the internet. For the most part they’ve kept up by doing the online thing and blogging and apps for news to get to people and still make advertising dollars.

Now on to some stuff they said in that blog:

Yes, Internet access is crucial to the Canadian economy, and, increasingly, our way of life. But so is electricity, and no one is suggesting that meters be ripped from homes so that heavy users can get a break. Bandwidth is no different from any other scarce resource: The only way it can be allotted efficiently and fairly in a market economy is if consumers are made to recognize its economic value, something that is impossible if it is treated like an open commons.

See how they just proved that they don’t have a good grasp on the arguments to be made? The bigger irony comes from the fact they said this on the internet (where people can comment), and on a page riddled with advertisements, feeds, links and comments. I’m sure the text content is about 45kb, but with all the page coding, I’m sure that page stands to be at least 1MB fully loaded into your browser (more if it has revolving web ads and comment update feed). Thanks for wasting my limited bandwidth. How about you strip down your news site to make it more bandwidth efficient. Something Web 1.0.

Really as hilarious as this was back in 2005/2006, it’s happening all over again:

Yeah remember our dearly departed friend the Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens and his rant about the internet? The story in that was that he was an old dude talking about something he realistically knew nothing about in its operation or function. And if the song didn’t make sense, here’s what he really said;

The summer of 2006 is happening all over again Canadian style. But again, bandwidth is not something that’s finite and limited as people want to you to say. Just like how hard drive capacity has gone up and driven down the cost per Gigabyte, bandwidth operates at the same level, like nearly ALL things computer related. So if some massive telecom like Bell is bitching they don’t have enough bandwidth for everyone while saying at the other hand most people are under that cap, then there is no reason why they have to limit other smaller ISPs who use that unused resource. It’s not like bandwidth dries up if not used. Your pipes don’t get smaller just because you’re not using water. Read more at Wikipedia: Bandwidth.

As it is turning out now, people at Bell are going to try their hardest to argue the money point (how it’s costing them so much for small ISPs to use their bandwidth) and how they offer plans comparable that gets people bandwidth (see pervious post about this). And they had a bit of  a talk on this:

Sounds kind of un-convincing doesn’t it? I mean Bell can sell people 40GB of bandwidth for $5 + what ever they pay for their internet plan? If my math is right that’s approx $0.125 / GB. (if you have a plan that’s $32 for 25 and you add-on 40 GB for $5 that’s $37 a month for 65 or $0.596 per GB, cheaper when you get the 120GB for $15 @ $0.32/GB). Wait? You mean bell can sell bandwidth for basically 13 cents, but they don’t offer that to other people not using bell? They have to make smaller ISP users and their own who don’t have extended internet bandwidth pay $2 per GB or x16 the price of what they offer additional bandwidth at. 

This is why I really, really don’t want this entire opposition to the billing to be about money and more focused on the lack of bandwidth being offered. At some point people are just going to throw around unimportant monetary figures that are going to muddle up the true numbers.

And so that is why I believe it is better to change this argument in to the matter of access restriction and specifically to the restrictions of access to Canadian content and its creation. Why should I argue that point? Because it was the CRTC who made the ruling on the billing, and they’re also the same body that’s suppose to regulate and ensure that I as a Canadian have access to media that is created by Canadians. Even this blog I believe falls under being Canadian Content, and I know if I were to make my own show/vlog, it would be 100% Canadian content. I think the rules are a bit ancient in regards to the internet, but I think there’s are valid stronger arguments to be made on a that front than one about money.

It would be far easier to win an argument by putting your opponent into a position where he can’t exactly argue against you. You think some major corporation is going to disagree with your choice and right to make Canadian content without such a limitation of Bandwidth? What my only method to watch the CBC is via online streaming since I don’t own a TV? Why am I being charged more for watching something I can on TV which I don’t have to pay for? I’m sure the arguments can be better crafted and worded, but  the point is you don’t have to argue about the costs directly and it helps sometimes to misguide the argument. I do have a stake in this as I write for this blog (which requires me to do to lots of internet research and youtube video watching) and I upload art from time to time which can get quite hefty on the old bandwidth.  I mean I get less bandwidth per month now as I do have memory for my digital camera (16+8+4). And that shit can fill up fast.

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So today, war came to my front door. I had seen it walking around the neighbourhood and expected as much, but I really had not known how I was going to deal with it. I don’t particularly like going to war with anything without actually knowing what I’d be fighting over or the way I would have to fight. I even take into consideration what I want in the end and what is it even going to do for me. This time I wasn’t given many options or much time, but it is here, I have lost my unlimited bandwidth usage for my internet and this is unacceptable.

I could do without unlimited, I mean there’s not much I can nab off the net that really needs it. What’s at the core route of this is that some companies (Bell Canada aka BCE Inc.) Feel that it is costing them way too much money and no one’s buying their piss poor TV services since you know, everything sort of changed over to internet based on demand TV and the like. So the bitched to the national regulator (the same ones who made a ruling over Money for Nothing by Dire Straits, like 20 years after the song came out) who felt it was fair that Bell could charge the smaller ISPs more money for what bandwidth they use probably on a per subscriber basis. So in turn all these Sub ISPs now have to charge their subscribers to keep them from going over or to compensate the company if the user goes over.

So my Unlimited plan now comes down to being only 25GB of uploading and downloading (that’s basically 1/4 of what I do monthly now) and this is on top of my already ‘slow’ connection speed that’s 4.5Mb down and .7Mb up. Effectively I now have to choose which sites I visit, make sure I don’t watch too many videos online, or go to image heavy websites.

How is that for restriction of freedoms? ‘Oh but you could pay the charges for going over the limit’ you say? You know how much it costs me per GB of bandwidth? $2 + tax. Let me put it this way; it’s like being told you can buy a loaf of bread for the month, but every additional slice you need to make food is going to cost you. And yes, the internet has unfortunately become somewhat of a necessity for the work I do, plan to do and the gaming I do. I don’t feel it’s something that I should be limited and regulated for how much I am using. I don’t think I should have to try to steer clear of bandwidth heavy sites because it could cost me in the end. Realistically it would not be such a bad thing if the cap was not so low and that’s what I have problems with.

I was even considering switching providers, but here’s the bullshit I got from them today:

A chat representative will be with you in about 0 minute(s). Thank you for waiting.
Chat representative Danielle has joined the session and is ready to help. To start, please provide your name and home phone number.

You: Greetings
Danielle: Hello, thanks for visiting bell.ca. How can I help you today?
Danielle: Hi
You: I would like to know about what would be the cheapest plan, with the least amount of downloading restrictions
You: I noticed the Fibe 12 very expensive
Danielle: May I please know which services you currently have with Bell?
You: None
Danielle: Name of your province?
You: Ontario
Danielle: Bell internet Fibe 12 is for $36.95/month + modem rent is $3.95/month + taxes.
Danielle: You can get the speed of up to 12 mbps and the usage of 50 GB/month.
You: I have a modem. no home phone
Danielle: I am sorry you have to go with new modem.
You: why would I?
Danielle: It is Bell’s policy.
You: Okay…. Can I sell the modem back to bell and use my own?
Danielle: You may sell it in near by stores
Danielle: Because via online we don’t do trading.
You: and that would void the $4 modem rentl?
Danielle: Yes :)
You: okay, good to know. now. Since I don’t have satellite TV and it wouldn’t be in a bundle, what would the actual charges every month for the Fibe6 be?
You: and is there anyway that I could get a better cap than 25GB a month?
You: becuase I do a lot of online gaming and downloading of games which tend to be rather large
Danielle: There is no contract for Bell high speed internet.
Danielle: There is a one time activation fee that is $29.95 for internet customers that would be waived off for Bell TV customers.
Danielle: Using DSL service you can connect 4 wired and 10 wireless computers.
Danielle: If you wish you can add 40 GB for $5, 80 GB for $10, 120 GB for $15.
You: so I would be paying approx $47 for 120 GB a month BEFORE taxes?
Danielle: Yes.
You: That’s not a very economical plan in comparison to the one I currently have.
Danielle: I am sorry about that.
Danielle: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
You: Wait, you’re basically giving up?
You: there’s nothing else that can be done?
Danielle: I am sorry no.
You: I see then. Well thank you for your time.

I was nearly dumbfounded by what I was told. They couldn’t do anything better to GET A NEW CUSTOMER. I understand there is not always that much flexibility, but like throw me a bone. I tried the other large provider in on this scam, Rogers Telecommunications, but I ran into some problems with them as well aptly illustrated in two images I screen capped.

 

What you're not seeing, which should be there, is the Internet packages they offer.

 

Oh ha ha... I have to download a chat program do I? To use what little bandwidth I have to see if I can get more?

So see what kind of dicking around I have to put up with. 3 years ago I wouldn’t have cared, but given that I upload an assload of art, browse youtube like the dickens each week to find music videos to write about, the e-mails I send to get a better paying job and a career are all now going to have to be downsized, measured and weighed as to make as minimal an impact on how much internet I’m using per month as to not be charged for more.

But I have not done nothing. Earlier today I found out to whom the CRTC basically has to answer to in the government and wrote him a nice letter which explains how the move on the CRTCs side was not in the best interests of people or regulation as to which they are to work for. I mean if they can get a song and music video banned from an entire country to appease one person, I’m sure they can turn around and flip the bird to the internet oligopoly that resides in Canada. I know it’s not dire yet, but I’m sure internet plans in China are way better than what we have to deal with, and they are a country who has real life internet police to bust your ass for reading about freedom and democracy.

For the most part when this was all starting up, I was dismissive of how people were reacting to what was going on, not because it didn’t affect me at the time, but because it was the way the were writing a petition about it and who exactly was signing that petition (80,000 people signed it over the internet. That’s pretty nothing when you note that Ontario has a population of 10 million and Quebec another 6 or 7 million).  As I read in one report on all this apparently the average internet subscriber uses 16 GB a month, but the mode of that stat was 5GB per month. (mode being the biggest of all the stats numbers)

Realistically the people making the biggest noise are the ones who download an assload of things off the internet all the time and they only know their limits because they check it constantly. The other problem I had with the whole thing is that they now want to get people to rally. If barely 80 thousand people can sign a petition, then how do you expect even more people to go to a rally during their work day? You may generate some media buzz, but realistically it’s going to have a very minimal impact on the state of things. The bulk of internet consumers will continue on not knowing. Really this movement and anger is not that much different from the Legalize Marijuana crowd. Who really wants it legal? The biggest users. Are there really that many of them? No, not really.

You can take a majority of what I’m saying as being apathetic to the cause, but what I feel would be best course of action is not wasting time standing around outside, but stepping up and talking to the people responsible to get answers and find a solution. And that’s why I started looking into who to contact, and now am working on how to communicate with them.

I think there are some bigger issues at stake here that go beyond just a concern for how much internet I can get away with using every month. The internet is a vast changing landscape and it takes some time for people to notice the shift that’s happened or is underway. Sometimes getting that word out to people is not as effective as having it change their lives directly and that would be a better course of action than having a protest in a city that has hundreds of them every month. This has to be attacked via the right issue rather than a selfish one. Yeah I want to fight to get my choice to download, but at the same time I want to protect my future growth and needs that I cannot anticipate at this time. 25 GB a month is going to very much constrict what I able to do and where I can go, and that’s what I do not want.

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