UBB Update 2(a)

January 31st, 2011 by Potato

I’m working on another UBB update post, but it got kind of rambly, so here’s the TL,DR version:

Important points:

  1. The CRTC does not regulate retail internet because it is, supposedly, a competitive market. That condition only holds because wholesale internet is regulated, which allows for independent ISPs to offer service without having to lay that last mile of cable to every household.
  2. The outrageous UBB fees being charged have no bearing at all in the actual costs of data transfer. They are purely for profit and punitive reasons.
  3. I strongly disagree with the UBB of the incumbents, and reserve every right to rant about it here anyway, but ultimately, their retail pricing decision is theirs, and I can move to a competitor if I don’t like it.
  4. But, the latest CRTC decision also forces the independent ISPs to mirror the incumbent UBB plan. This is a massive regulatory failure. Though the CRTC supposedly does not regulate retail internet, by forcing the independents to pay what is a punitive fee with no basis in wholesale cost just like Bell’s retail customers, the CRTC is creating a de facto retail regulation, and a bad one at that. It’s killing the competitive marketplace. This is the big reason why I’m stepping up to sign petitions, mailing my MP, and even mailing my MPP*. I encourage you to do the same.

So, send your MP a letter. A paper letter supposedly carries more weight than an email, but please do contact them in some way. Remember that there’s no postage required to send a letter to your MP. If you don’t know who your MP is, you can look up their address here. My letter was put up in the last update, you’re free to copy as much of it as you like, or better yet write your own in your own words. Some bullet points to mention:

  • UBB is bad for everyone except the incumbents (bad for end users, bad for content creators, bad for innovators, bad for telecommuters, and bad for independent ISPs).
  • The CRTC ruling is anti-competitive, in effect forcing a regulation of retail internet service, and removing the ability of independents to set prices, differentiate their products, and in a word, compete. [This, I think, is the main point]
  • The UBB fees are not related in any way to the costs of delivering data or maintaining infrastructure, and should not be forced on independent service providers.
  • By having the independent ISPs hand over UBB fees to the incumbents, that’s pure profit for them, while at the same time removing the ability of the independents to compete. If the incumbents argue that UBB is needed for behavioural reasons, there’s no reason the independents shouldn’t keep those fees.
  • Even on the incumbents’ own networks, the purpose of UBB was anti-competitive: to make competing internet services for their traditional media and telephony arms less viable.
  • The implementation does not jive with any of the stated reasons for UBB: heavy users are not targetted (medium users pay more per GB than heavy ones), congestion is not alleviated by financial incentives (there’s no time-of-use component, so the network will be just as congested in prime time), and the costs of data delivery are not in line with the UBB charges.
  • The implementation is unfair, as the independents are forced to pay, while the incumbents have the option of waiving UBB on promotional bases.

* – the quick note I sent my MPP: “The recent CRTC decision forces independent ISPs to adopt the retail pricing structure of the incumbent duopoly (Bell & Rogers). This was an anti-competitive move by the federal regulator that is strongly not in favour of Canadian consumers, content providers, independent ISPs, or innovators — only the interests of Bell and Rogers are served. The federal government has abdicated its responsibilities to regulate the telecommunications industry and protect Canadians. Will the Ontario government step up to fill the void and introduce a bill to protect Ontario internet users from usurious usage fees that have no basis in the costs of operating the networks?

I realize that Ontario, unlike Quebec, has often not wanted to step on the toes of the federal regulators, so action on protecting consumers from usurious UBB is unlikely, but nonetheless I ask that you consider it. “

One Response to “UBB Update 2(a)”

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