a Courier debate
//Sasha Lakic and Jordan Potter

UBB: Protecting profits, gouging the customer and relying on us to watch shitty TV

The CRTC has decided that their bum buddies, the major Internet Service Providers Shaw, Bell, Telus and Rogers, can, and will impose a limit on your internet bandwidth, a system referred to as usage-based billing.

On CRTC’s site there are not many explanations as to why the additional charges are necessary other than it increases provision costs to the ISPs. But according to Steve Anderson of, it allegedly costs ISPs about a penny to supply you with 1 gigabyte of internet stuffs (websites, movies, YouTube, hentai, etc.), but going 1 GB over their imposed limits will cost anywhere from $1 to $4. Strange, right?

Well here’s my explanation. Television blows goats if you have a brain. I understand that Jersey Shore is funny like Homer Simpson is funny. We laugh at them, not with them. But following such abysmal garbage (Jersey Shore, not The Simpsons) on a weekly basis, as some people out there do, requires a new form idiocy which I do not understand in the least, nor have the space to explain at the present. Broadcasting shitty TV alienates people who think, and being the optimist that I am, I have an undying faith that most people prefer a good documentary over mentally unstable doctors or anything made by Steven Tyler. Today, shitty TV is predominant and ISPs are starting to lose out on customers who simply refuse to sign up for cable because they can quite easily find torrents or live streams of shows they actually enjoy.

So in addition to providing you with the net, some of the companies like Telus and Shaw supply you with cable TV, as well as the corresponding hardware if you like your HDTV. These two are very profitable streams of additional revenue, compromised by unlimited bandwidth. A reduction in revenues means reduction in corporate taxes. This does not really fly with the Feds, and given their business-oriented nature it is only natural for the CRTC to support such absurd cost claims and, in turn, secure mutual interests.

//Sasha Lakic, Angry Writer

UBB: Don’t fight UBB, fight the caps and cost

I’m not a big believer in fundamental truths, but the closest approximation to one that I have witnessed is that people do not like paying more for their stuff. It should come as no surprise then, that when word began to spread that Canadian telecoms had been granted the right to begin charging users for bandwidth on top of the their traditional subscriptions, that the reaction has been increasingly hostile. The cries have been clear: “We already pay for the internet. We are not getting any extra value. They are only doing this to try and keep people tethered to their TV services.” These things are all true, but none of them exclude usage-based billing as a justifiable, and dare I say fair model. Yes, this will mean more profits for corporations like Bell/Shaw/Telus but just because a company makes money, is big, and I don't like them, doesn't mean they don't have a right to charge people for the services they provide.

That’s right, bandwidth is a service, and it costs telecoms money to provide it. These companies have been trying to create a boogie man of a porn-downloading nerd in his basement, sucking up all the bandwidth from his neighbors in order to trick people into thinking what they are doing is fair. Although this tactic is condescending, there is some truth to it. There are Internet users that download terabytes of data per month and the cost of their bandwidth is for all intents and purposes subsidized by the average user who uses less than 1/100th of that. Is it fundamentally unfair to charge these users more than the average consumer? Of course not, it is simply a matter of coming up with a more reasonable figure for connected people living in the 21st century.

Which is basically what I wanted to get at: UBB, as it stands to take effect, is a terrible model that unfairly punishes those who have adapted to living in the Internet age. 25 gigs is far too low a cap, and charging up to $4 for a gig when it only costs pennies is obviously ridiculous. Those numbers need to change. That doesn’t mean that charging for bandwidth is some encroachment on our fundamental freedoms though. We feel entitled to unlimited Internet, because that is the way it has always been. Up until now, we have paid for “Internet access,” a vague term that essentially meant all-you-could eat. Now telecoms are figuring out that instead of having to absorb the cost of supplying bandwidth for your Internet service, they can pass it onto the consumer, something that is done by every other provider of services, but for some reason we think the Internet should be unique in this regard. We are comfortable paying for data by the byte on our cellphones, and yet once we get home it becomes unfair to charge for that same data just because it’s on a bigger screen? Nonsense.

Usage-based billing has every opportunity to become a more just payment model then the current one. Right now, the proposed cap needs to increase, and the cost of data decrease and that’s the battle people should be fighting.

//Jordan Potter

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