Right now, the biggest online action in Canadian history is taking place.
Recently, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made a decision that would affect the way that Canadians use the internet, allowing big telecom companies such as Bell, Shaw and Rogers to impose “usage-based billing” on independent internet service providers. These telecom companies decided to introduce a cap on internet use: 25gb/month, charging $2 per gig after that. Originally, the cap is 200gb/month, while independent companies like TekSavvy sell unlimited bandwidth to their customers.
So basically, with a ridiculously low internet cap of 25gb, your internet usage would consist of watching 3 youtube videos per month, running skype for 48 hours straight, checking your email a couple of times, and then paying $2 per gig after that. Forget about torrenting anything, or transferring files online. In short, your internet bill which once cost $50 would cost probably $200, if not more.
Blogger and social media enthusiast Zach Bussey noted how easily 25gb could be gobbled up in one month:
If you watch a 2 hour HD movie through Netflix, you use roughly 4GB.
If you run Tweetdeck for 8 hours a day, you could use up to 10GB a month.
If you run Skype in the background for 8 hours a day (meaning idly), you use up to 1GB a month.
The metered internet would also mean that entrepreneurs that rely on the internet to build their brand would be screwed. Say goodbye to flashy websites and any hint of creativity. Peace out, Canadian content, networking, and research. Google ads would eat up our bandwidth. Technological innovation online would fail; business and the economy would suffer worse than it already is, and ISPs would not be able to compete with one another. Canada would turn into China, and even Kyrgyzstan would have better access to the internet. We would actually start giving a shit about what useless youtube video we were watching, or what stupid song we were listening to. Unemployed people would have nothing to do all day. We would pay much more for the same service – worse service, in fact – and all the money would be pocketed by lovely large telecoms.
When I first heard about this violation of communications rights and media democracy, I was so frustrated I could barely type anything rational. Instead, I angrily updated my Facebook status, urging friends to sign the petition, now almost 300,000 signatures strong: the largest online action taken by Canadians in history. The next day, I completed most of this To Do list, contacted the prime minister, filed complaints with the CRTC and Bell, emailed various MPs and newspapers, broadcasting my disgust over Twitter with hashtags including #CRTC and #StopTheMeter. Because that’s how revolutions take shape these days.
It turns out I was not the only one ashamed of my country and its helpless communications system, and I was not the only one typing away in angst to Very Important Decision Makers. Two major political parties took a stance against usage-based billing due to public outcry, and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he would “review” it. When old, out of touch bureaucrats are in charge of making decisions without consulting citizens, this is what happens. Time is wasted, and a shitload of people are pissed. As for Bell, they felt threatened by new companies coming to Canada such as Netflix that were “eating up” bandwidth. Guess what, Bell? More and more Canadians are replacing their cable TV with the internet. Skype is replacing landline phones. I have one word for you: ADAPT.
For more relevant, educational and useful links, see the following:
TekSavvy’s response to the CRTC’s decision
CTV:Internet usage caps draw ire of business
Globe and Mail: A metered internet is a regulatory failure
Sign the petition! Sign the petition! Sign the petition! Canadian or not!
To everybody who has done their part in this campaign, keep pushing. It is not over. Rally, write, write, write, sign the petition and send it to everyone you know, update your social media networks as much as you can. Canadians will not be left in the dark, paying outrageous fees for an internet that does not serve our needs. We will not be limited in an age of growth, where online presence is now more important than ever.
Here is an inspirational quote from Hugh Thompson of Digital Home:
"Recently, the CRTC asked the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council to create a national panel and review the use of the word ‘faggot’ after it received a mere 250 complaints. If the [now 285,000] plus online petition signers sent emails and complained to the CRTC instead then you can pretty much can guarantee the federal government will reconsider."
And hey, as much as the internet wastes my time, ain’t nobody is gonna tell me how to use it. No out of touch regulatory body or disillusioned company has the right.