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Usage Based Billing for the Internet: Canada’s Economic Folly

What is Usage-Based Billing?

Usage-based billing (UBB) is something that was introduced to the CRTC in 2008 by Bell. What it does is, it puts a cap on the amount of Internet you consume and applies a fee for every gigabyte you use thereafter. What’s the problem with that? Well, it stifles Canada’s economy’s by downsizing the amount of consumer business done on the Internet, it limits the number of YouTube videos you can watch, and it makes sure that you get a minimum amount of Internet for a maximum amount of price. This great idea was put forth by Bell, in attempts to make sure that the 2% of its customers that use more Internet than others, makes the rest of the 98%, who don’t use much Internet, pay for it when they go over. It was also done in response to limit Bell’s competitors in the Internet service providers business.

How it Affects Canadians

Consumer use of the Internet is only increasing. With the advent of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, leisurely use of the Internet from home is consuming more and more gigabytes. It is projected that by 2015, video and Internet use will surpass 2.1 billion gigabytes in Canada. Who benefits from this? Service providers like Bell do. This proposed ruling was actually accepted by the CRTC to take place in March of 2011, but outrage over this from many Canadians caused the CRTC to review its case. The Conservative government has expressed concern over this ruling and has vowed to make sure Canadians are put in priority and not “taxed” over communicating over the Internet.

The Case for More Internet

We need more Internet for less. Simple. It costs less than a penny to route 1 gigabyte of data through the Internet. Bell is ready to charge you upwards of $5 a gigabyte. Gouging? I most certainly think so.

The Internet has become a universe in itself. In fact, companies are taking the Internet to outer space in the International Space Station and to planets in the future. We can’t be taxed over using the Internet because it has become so ubiquitous as a means of communication that we all rely on it. From businesses to schools, and from recreation to revolutions, the Internet is not only expanding our knowledge of things, but is accelerating it at an unbelievable pace. Putting a cap on how we interact in the digital domain will severely affect our economy and our social lives. Facebook, Twitter, and all of the social media sites will be taxed.

If we reverse the CRTC’s decision, we can expand our economy and better compete with countries like Japan who make our Internet service look a like snail in terms of how fast they have it there. The more we regulate Internet use, the less flexibility we’ll see our industries. On the contrary, having a less regulated Internet can spur new innovations and help place Canada at the top in the IT world.

What Can You Do About It?

Luckily we have an advocacy group that is doing a real good job on protesting this ridiculous UBB ruling. The group is called Open Media and you can visit their website at: www.openmedia.ca. Be sure to sign in on the petition to make you voice heard to the government and to the CRTC. Last I heard, we had close to half a million signatures. Let’s trump this decision once and for all for the sake our digital freedom!

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