Metering the Internet

Hacking Old Technology
Some of the biggest news in Canada now is related to the CRTC allowing usage based billing [UBB] by Bell Canada and others. Many Canadians are voicing their dissent of this move, and are particularly critical of the CRTC for not looking out for the best interests the people it is supposed to protect.

I remember when High Speed Internet was first happening in Canada, sometime around 1998-99. I was on board right away when I moved to Hamilton for university. I believe I was paying $50 a month for unlimited cable internet. Sometime in 1999/2000 they switched the plan myself and many of my Software Engineering friends were on to UBB, without actually telling us. A friend of mine was the first to find out, when after a few days, they cut off his internet. Many of us followed in the days to come as we went over our quotas. We spoke out strongly against this practice, as many others did as well. Within a month or two the UBB policy was reversed in full.

It was slightly different in that older case compared to now, for one thing, they cut us off, not charged us more. Obviously their policy was very wrong, but I think charging us more for going over on our bandwidth is also wrong.

If UBB goes through people will all of a sudden have to be very concious of what they're doing online. Want to watch a movie on your paid for Netflix subscription? Well you might have to pay again on top of your subscription. Want to stream a TV show from CTV or The Comedy Network? Visit sites with lots of ads? Guess what, now you'll also have to pay for those ads to be loaded. Sure, you can ad block, but then the people who run the sites will lose out on income. This will hurt many part time bloggers and people who depend on ad income to operate.

Myself personally, I upload and watch a lot of video on YouTube, upload pictures to flickr, and I have also been spending a lot of time watching Al Jazeera's coverage of the revolution in Egypt. In a 15 minute time frame last night I tracked my bandwidth usage. I downloaded 150MB, and uploaded about 100MB. project that forward and my total bandwidth is about 1GB/hour. In total last month I uploaded about 10GB of video, and that was a light month. Maybe I'm an exceptional case, but I know if my internet were metered I would be over every month.

Overall UBB will hurt Canadians in their pocketbook, as well as stifle new development out of Canada.

For more information, and a petition to sign check out Open Media.

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