[kwlug-disc] UBB letter to Harold Albrecht

Insurance Squared Inc. gcooke at insurancesquared.com
Mon Jan 31 19:53:35 EST 2011

I wrote the following to my MP.  I've copied the list because it may be 
something others wish to do - write and object.  The one thing I'd ask 
that you ignore are my comments about my personal political tendencies - 
not something that should be brought up on this list. It was important 
in the context of the email though.  If I was on the opposite end of the 
political spectrum I'd have changed what I wrote to say that I'd change 
my normal vote based on this issue.  I think it's a lot weaker to say 
'here's my concern, and by the way, not voting for you anyway':).
Hi Mr. Albrecht,

I'm writing you to ask you to take action against a recent decision on 
usage based billing approved by the CRTC.  More details are in this CBC 
You'll notice at this time 766 responses to that story on the website.  
This is an issue people are hot under the collar about.

Most internet providers that offer DSL/phone line service in Canada are 
forced to piggyback on Bell Canada's lines.  CRTC has allowed Bell in 
this recent ruling to force these secondary wholesalers to charge their 
clients (that's me and you) based on how much bandwidth we use.  More 
specifically this ruling prevents private companies from offering 
unlimited bandwith internet connections.  They're forced to charge us 
more for useage.

While the extra charges might seem like the concern, quite frankly the 
extra $200 or so that I'll have to pay to line Bell's pockets (with no 
associated increase in service) isn't something that I'd bother my MP 
over.  As a member of the Conservative party of Canada however I am 
deeply concerned with government regulations interfering with private 
industry in Canada.  This concern is compounded in this case because of 
the more complex business and personal ramifications that come out of this.

First, this ruling forces money from middle class Canadians into the 
pockets of Bell with no associated increase in service.  My $200 is a 
drop in the bucket, multiply it by the millions of Canadians with high 
speed internet that now are paying Bell more money and I believe most 
Canadians would see this as Bell using the CRTC to gouge money from 
Canadians. This is reinforcing the belief most Canadians have that Bell 
is effectively a monopoly.

Secondly, wholesaler ISP's, the companies that are forced to lease lines 
from Bell (no viable alternative being available in Canada) are required 
by the CRTC to charge more to Canadians.  Not asked, or allowed.  
Required.  Bell has created an environment where the CRTC is being used 
as a bludgeon against their competitors. Bell wanted to raise it's rates 
but couldn't and still remain competitive.  That's the entire point of 
competition.  This ruling is completely anticompetitive, it removes the 
ability of competitors to actually compete based on price.  Clearly this 
is going to stifle the competitive internet service provide market in 
Canada, to Bell's benefit.

Thirdly we are going to create an environment where Canadians are 
reluctant to use internet services for fear of increased bandwith 
charges.  For example I have been investigating the possiblility of 
setting up our television  for internet TV.  I can watch many of our TV 
programs right over the internet, and I get the advantage of companies 
like Netflix.  With this usage based billing practice internet TV is no 
longer a viable option for many Canadians.  Instead of just paying for 
the internet TV service, now I have to pay for internet TV service AND 
bandwidth - with the bandwith fees going to Bell.  This has effectively 
killed internet TV business in Canada before it's really gotten 
started.  You'll remember of course that Bell offers TV services.  So 
now if I want internet TV, I'm still forced by Candian regulation to pay 
Bell once again.  The requirement to pay more money to Bell in order to 
watch internet TV as a viable alternative to other TV options (including 
Bell's offerings) means internet TV is no longer a viable option for 
me.  The CRTC has just cut Bell in to the internet TV business, 
guaranteeing them a cut of all revenue based on bandwidth.

I use internet phone for my business.  I use internet phone very 
specifically so that I don't have to deal with Bell.  This new ruling 
means that all of my phone traffic is now subject to additional fees to 
Bell.  This ruling has actually removed my ability to have my phones NOT 
subject to any Bell fees - something I deliberately sought.  I remember 
the days of $5/minute long distance rates from Bell, I'm sure you do 
to.  It's why people our age can remember the phrase 'It's long 
distance' being a big motivator to haul butt to the phone.  Now it's a 
joke - Canadians under the age of 30 no more understand the concept of 
high cost long distance than they understand that you don't want to take 
very many pictures because you're wasting the film.  The only thing that 
changed those costs was opening the door to competition against Bell.  
This ruling has reversed my ability to deal with competitive providers 
and once again lets Bell get it's hands on areas it's rapidly losing 
market share.

Thankfully I am not someone who would be considered low income.  But for 
those that are, the internet is an absolute lifeline. It lets them do 
many things they couldn't do otherwise  Find sales.  Research medical 
conditions. Shop without travelling.  And a recent study showed that a 
significant portion of jobs these days are available only online.  Low 
income Canadians are amongst those that need the internet the most, and 
they're the ones this usage based billing (i.e. additional costs) has 
the ability to impact significantly.  This ruling is going to force low 
income Canadians to curtail their internet usage.  For those that can't 
afford cable - and there's lots of folks in KW who can't - internet TV 
would be a viable alternative.  Now it's not - internet TV has gone from 
free to having significant costs.  Again, we've removed some very 
substantial competitive and vital options from Canadians, to Bell's benefit.

In summary, this ruling forces and encourages the Bell monopoly in the 
TV, phone, and internet industries and removes existing competition to 
the detriment of middle class and low income Canadians. It's a complete 
affront to freedom of business and will drastically impact services that 
Canadians have in a variety of important sectors.

Local KW computer users groups have been abuzz with this ruling lately.  
Early reaction is not mixed - it's very negative.  People are actively 
seeking to move their internet business to circumvent the effects of 
this ruling.  Of course these people are the early adapters - they watch 
this arena.  The average Canadian has yet to feel the impact of this new 
regulation.  But they will.

The direct impact of this is higher internet fees.  Consumers will 
ignore this until they get hit with an additional $50-$100  fee from 
their ISP just because their kids were watching Youtube videos.  In the 
last month my son has been actively researching and watching videos on 
archery and mythbusters episodes (learning to make balistics gel at 
home).  Under this new ruling I could see additional monthly costs of 
$50 or higher as the result of a couple of kids using the internet like 
this.  And this isn't a maybe - it's going to happen.  The billing just 
hasn't hit our mailboxes yet.  When it does, Canadians will call their 
internet providers.  Their providers will assure them that they're 
actually required to charge these fees - the CRTC requires it.  And then 
your phone is going to ring.  I expect this will be happening in the 
next couple of months.

I know that's a long background - but here's what I'm asking. I'm asking 
that you take action to reverse the usage based billing forced on us by 
the CRTC.  I hope that my bringing this to your attention this early on 
will allow you to get up to speed on this issue before Canadians realize 
what's happened and become incensed over it.  If you're up to speed and 
making concrete efforts to reverse this you'll be better able to address 
upcoming concerns that are bound to be raised.  This could be a hot 
button in any upcoming election as it can easily be portayed as a tax on 
low income and middle class Canadians, to Bell's benefit. In fact, as a 
conservative, I'd be pressed to explain it any differently than that.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Glenn Cooke
New Hamburg

cc: KW Lug

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