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Bell Proposing Usage-Based Billing 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-man dept.
Idiomatick writes "Bell Canada is attempting to impose UBB on its wholesale customers. As Bell was given a last-mile monopoly in much of Canada by the government, they are required to follow rules set up by the CRTC; this includes leasing their lines to competitive ISPs. And they are given a directive by the CRTC to provide competitive speeds to said ISPs. Teksavvy has informed its customers that were this to go through, the current monthly cap would be quartered and the cost for exceeding it would be 'multiple times more than our current per Gigabyte rate of $0.25/GB on overages.' They have also helpfully included a link where you can send your comments/concerns to the CRTC directly."
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Bell Proposing Usage-Based Billing

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  • Do-over (Score:4, Interesting)

    by concernedadmin (1054160) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:39AM (#27594785)

    How much would it cost to rip up the ground and lay down more fiber? It seems like in most cases, a (natural?) monopoly results. When things get this bad, is there any chance that a new generation of telecommunications companies can spring up (perhaps with government subsidies to get them going)?

    • Re:Do-over (Score:5, Interesting)

      by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:31AM (#27594963)

      It's not so much the cost that matters, it's the monopolies you mention. They are not natural though, they were formed from contracts that were drafted with precision greed and much forward contemplation of their potential future value. They did have a hundred years or so of prior telephony contracts to give them a good heads up. It'll be many years and many legal battles before your new generation get to turn their first clump of dirt.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        It'll be many years and many legal battles before your new generation get to turn their first clump of dirt.

        Nah. This pile of crap that is the world economy will collapse much sooner.

        Fun fact: The US is bankrupt since 1971 [wikipedia.org].

        • by $1uck (710826)

          Bankrupt?

          The word doesn't mean what you think it does.

        • by jank1887 (815982)

          last I checked, bankruptcy meant you were unable to meet payments asked for by creditors, and you seek formal means of restructuring or partially satisfying your debt by fulfilling the negative side of lender risk.

          Last I checked, China hasn't come callin' for payback.

          • Yet.

            The national debt is now at $110,000 per U.S. home and will climb to $150,000 before the next presidential election. Add another $90,000 in personal mortgage/credit card debt (on average). $200,000-$240,000 per home may not be bankruptcy, but it's as close as you can get without crossing the line. We are in deep trouble.

            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              The national debt is now at $110,000 per U.S. home and will climb to $150,000 before the next presidential election. Add another $90,000 in personal mortgage/credit card debt (on average).

              Mortgage debt doesn't count if your home value is more than what you owe. This is true of any "secured" debt.

              So, although I owe about $109K on my house, since its current market value is about $350K (down from over $450K two years ago, but up from the bottom of about $325K), it's not an overall negative on my net worth.

              The really sad part of your numbers is that I'm middle class and although it would be really, really tight, I could pay off my portion of the national debt. If much more wealthy people did

          • If ending the ponzi scheme you were roped into, screwed you worse than the procrastination keeping the ponzi scheme going - would you take the losses?

            If you could prolong it beyond your lifetime would you take the loss?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by frieko (855745)

        They are not natural though, they were formed from contracts that were drafted with precision greed and much forward contemplation of their potential future value.

        Actually it is a natural monopoly. A natural monopoly has to do with the economics of the situation, not with who or how the contracts are given. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Do-over (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:51AM (#27595251)
      Not likely. That is why is is a natural monopoly. It isn't just that you have the infrastructure owned by one company, it is that the marginal cost for another company entering the market will be much much higher than the prices of the existing supplier, and even if you subsidize a second company while they roll out their infrastructure it still will cost more. There will now be two backbones sharing the same pool of customers, thus the fixed costs will have to be recovered fro, whatever the fraction of customers you can lure away is, not the whole market as it was before.

      Also, the new company would have to run new wires to the house. So you buy a house and want to go with a different phone provider in this scenario you'd probably end up with a house full of the other guys boxes that are inactive and eye sores.

      In short, people like to think that competition is the cure for everything, but unfortunately it is not. Sometimes the nature of the game is that it is cheaper for the customer to give one company excessive profits then to have two companies competing and have the price still be higher but now the companies' are just breaking even (in an economical since, ie including "fair" return on investment). If things get out of hand governments regulate the natural monopolies and make them lease their backbone, or only charge fair prices. Other natural monopolies belong to the government because it makes the most sense, education (though that depends were you are I suppose), national defence (could you imagine time sharing a tank with your neighbours? Would be fun though).

      • by dfiguero (324827)

        There will now be two backbones sharing the same pool of customers, thus the fixed costs will have to be recovered fro, whatever the fraction of customers you can lure away is, not the whole market as it was before.

        Given that the story says:

        As Bell was given a last-mile monopoly in much of Canada by the government they are required to follow rules set up by the CRTC this includes leasing their lines to competitive ISPs.

        "Much of Canada" must be a significant amount of customers and I think you would need to consider that whatever new company would compete against Bell would try to offer some nice incentives to attract customers. They would probably push the status quo and consumers would get the best.

        I know your point is that it doesn't seem to make much sense for a company in terms of profit but although the profits might not be the same as that of a natural monopoly, I think the profits of an ol

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I know your point is that it doesn't seem to make much sense for a company in terms of profit but although the profits might not be the same as that of a natural monopoly, I think the profits of an oligopoly would still be attractive.

          Actually it was completely the opposite. I was arguing that a natural monopoly exists (and a government allows it to exist) because it is in the best interests of the customers. You can only discount to get into the market for so long. Eventually you have to start paying for the infrastructure and need to earn a normal return on investment. Several infrastructures, with sets of administration overhead etc, is just going to be more expensive than one in some scenerios.

          There is a concept called minimum effi

      • by Hizonner (38491)
        How the heck is education a natural monopoly?
        • by swb (14022)

          Or for that matter, defense?

          How completely aligned are the national defense needs of, say, Hawaii with those of, say, Ohio? Note, I don't say there aren't mutual interests, but to say that there is 100% overlap is ridiculous.

          We've been kind of snookered into this one-size-fits-all all-national-interests-are-aligned mindset.

          • Better examples of natural monopolies would have been things that have strict limits that can't be overcome in any feasible way. Education is a poor example, since it's always possible to go a few miles in the other direction to attend a different school. Natural monopolies are things like roads, water pipes, and utility lines, since there isn't enough space to have three roads and five water pipes running to everyone's home, nor would you want a different company every week closing the road to your home so
        • I meant more for primary and secondary education. The government mandates the curriculm and forces parents to send their kids to a school that meets that teaches that curriculm, and taxes you to pay for it as a public resource. I guess it might not be a natural monopoly, just highly dominated by government run institutions.
      • In my area Comcast and Verizon compete with one another, and I see a lot of benefit: (1) Lower prices and (2) increasing speeds.

        If there was a monopoly it would probably be ridiculous (Verizon used to charge $100/month). It's akin to when AT&T controlled everything and phone quality sucked, but once Sprint, MCI, and other competitors entered the market, prices dropped to ~5 cents a minute and data speeds increased from AT&T's maximum 300 bit/second modem to non-AT&T 28,000 or 56,000 modems. Br

        • In my area Comcast and Verizon compete with one another, and I see a lot of benefit

          This is phone versus cable. They aren't using the same infrastructure. I guess it all depends on how you define the industry whether they are a monopoly or not. Bell owns the infrastructure for phone, but has been forced to lease it out to create competition. They still are the sole supplier of the underlying hardware as far as I know.

          My understanding is that Sprint and MCI bought their service from AT&T wholesale and then resold it. It was the government that forced AT&T to sell the minutes at "

          • >>>This is phone versus cable. They aren't using the same infrastructure.

            No it's internet versus internet, and it's irrelevant how they provide that service whether it's coax, twisted pair, fiber, or squirrels with packets tied to their backs (like sneakernet but more furry). What's relevant is that I have a *choice* for my internet, and that competition for my business benefits me with lower prices ($15/month) or higher speeds or both. That's better then the old monopoly that charged $100/month

            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              No it's internet versus internet, and it's irrelevant how they provide that service whether it's coax, twisted pair, fiber, or squirrels with packets tied to their backs (like sneakernet but more furry).

              So, what you're saying is that in order to reach 100Mbps on the last mile, we need to cross-breed all the nut-bearing trees (oak, walnut, pecan, etc.) with methamphetamine so that the squirrels can keep the latency down.

              Now, that's something I'd really like to see the "broadband stimulus package" pay for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JesseMcDonald (536341)

        There's no need to get the government involved. Last-mile natural monopolies (roads, power, water, communication) are among the few cases where co-ops happen to be ideal. They have all the advantages of local democratic control over infrastructure, and lack the ethical quandaries inherent in government due to the legitimization of force.

        Many existing utilities, most notably electricity, are already managed in large part via co-ops. The trick is to recognize that the co-op is there to own the shared infrastr

    • Re:Do-over (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Swizec (978239) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:35AM (#27595351) Homepage
      This is what happened in Slovenia. A new comer (T-2) came along and decided to say fuck you to the biggest and the baddest and just start laying down fiber, offering FTTH at prices much lower than the market value and simply work against all conventional business ideology.

      What happened was that after a few years they were the cheapest, fastest and all around bestest internet provider in the country. This forced the biggest and the baddest to sharply drop their prices and start laying FTTH to simply stay in business at all.

      Now, about 5 years after this started happening, Slovenia is the 7th in the world in FTTH adoption right behind Scandinavia and Asia.

      Fun fact: It's about half cheaper to get 20/20 FTTH here than it is to get 1024/256 ADSL.
      • by mrops (927562) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:21AM (#27596469)

        I think cost of doing the same in Canada would be astronomical. But then again, US national debt is more than the number of stars in the Universe, so astronomical is not what it used to be.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Swizec (978239)
          I'm sure the cost wasn't very low around here either. I think they even circumvented the law a little bit in some places and decided to "do it now, ask for permission later when it can't be reversed and the benefits are apparent". It was a gamble and it paid off.
        • by kalirion (728907)

          But then again, US national debt is more than the number of stars in the Universe, so astronomical is not what it used to be.

          Hmm, I'd've thought we'd've gone bankrupt once debt reached the first $sextillion....

      • >>>A new comer (T-2) came along and decided to say fuck you to the biggest and the baddest and just start laying down fiber

        Your example supports what I've been saying for several months now - competition is better than monopoly, even if it means laying duplicate lines to every home. Competition between two or more companies promotes lower prices or better service. Sometimes both.

        We should do the same with the U.S. School Monopoly - force schools to compete within the same district - students can

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      It costs a lot more than you'd think. Somewhere between $70,000 per mile in suburbia, up to $250,000 a mile in a city cente (Source) [gigabeam.com] Other sites quote different prices, but they're always in the region of 10's of thousands of dollars per mile for rural areas, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for cities. So it's not economically desirable to run more cable I'm afraid.
      • Verizon ran it for free to my house, almost a half mile from the main road. Are you saying that it cost them 30,000$ to do that? I mean, we were one of the very first to have fios (at all) in the pittsburgh area.

        I guess they strategized and said "oh man he torrents 2TB per month, so when we move to a usage-based model we'll pay it back in a year".

    • Re:Do-over (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:12AM (#27595437)

      This should be compared to e.g. roads, railways, waterways, airports and other major pieces of infrastructure. As such it is best owned by the government or a government-appointed company that takes care of the maintenance only, and is not providing services. All users pay a certain fee, based on a flat fare or per use or whatever. I say here government, it may also be a public non-profit that is set up for this very purpose.

      For example the government builds and maintain roads, and charges a vehicle tax to use them.

      An airport, often also government run, charges the aircraft that want to land there a certain fee, possibly depending on size of the aircraft.

      So it would be the government that builds/maintains the cables, and then rents it out for the ISP to provide services on it. Or maybe even telephone companies, or TV services. All the government should do is lay a digital cable, and other companies can connect to it with their digital services (and provide end-point equipment such as set-top box for the TV, modem for an Internet connection or telephone set). The cable just provides a way to get those bits from a to b regardless of what those bits are for. The only limits may be the legality of content, and the bandwidth demanded.

      It is not doable, also not desirable, to lay more than one set of the same infrastructure. Coax or telephone cables may be replaced by fibre for example, but it is not a good idea to put two sets of coax (TV cable) in the ground.

      The competition should not come from more sets of cables here, like there is only one road network but it is operated by various bus companies, minibus operators, taxis, rikshaws, and private cars. They all pay a certain fee to be licensed to use the road, and maybe tolls for use of certain tunnels or bridges. That's how cables should work as well.

      The problem is of course that lots of cables were laid by private companies, though often government sponsored, when it was thought that it all should be privately owned and run. That legacy we have now basically all over the world, and this is why they are talking about a "third channel" and thinking of ways to do Internet over electricity cables just to get more competition. It is just patchwork. Cables should be publicly owned like the roads and other major pieces of infrastructure, become a common carrier, and sell no more than their transport service to wholesale customers. Just like the telephone companies sell telephone calls (data transport) to anyone, regardless of whether you are just having a nice chat with your mum, trying to close a business deal, or are having a bout of telephone sex. The call costs the same, and everyone is allowed to make as many of them as their line allows (which is usually one at the time but more lines can be rented if you need it).

      • by Locklin (1074657)

        This is the only solution that will work, in my mind. How much do you suppose it would cost to ship a parcel if a single postal company owned the roads? would second-tier postal carriers like UPS have to lay down their own roads? or bend over and pay the monopolies whatever they want to "rent" time on the existing roads? Government owned infrastructure like roads, AND CABLE, leads to more competition, a free-er market, more innovation, jobs and better service for customers.

      • >>>it is not a good idea to put two sets of coax (TV cable) in the ground.

        Why not? Is the amount of room underground so limited that we only have room to run one cable? Sorry but I'm not buying your argument. In my area we have exactly that situation with two cables running in parallel, and a choice between two CATV companies*. It's great because it promotes competition, and I think this model should be copied in every U.S. city. It puts the power in the hands of the customer to choose. "Pow

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          In case of one shared cable you save half the cost of putting two cables in the ground, save half the disruption to residents due to dug up sidewalks, and you could even have five no ten companies offering services on the same cable. Now that is competition, and because there is only one cable to maintain the costs and final price for the consumer will be lower.

          In my home country of The Netherlands, everybody has a choice of a couple dozen ADSL providers on a single telephone network. Serious competition.

    • Re:Do-over (Score:5, Insightful)

      by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:59AM (#27596275) Homepage

      It's not about fiber or infrastructure or anything like that. It's about Bell playing dirty and dodging the anti-monopoly laws that were specifically enacted to keep Bell under control.

      Every single move is a direct attack to shut out resellers and competitors. With this particular predatory billing strategy, they are guaranteeing that any DSL reseller goes out of business because the "wholesale" cost is greater than their own 1st-tier retail service. At the same time, the low caps proposed are ensuring that their users won't be able to ditch their $200/month DTV and phone bills in favor of IPTV and VoIP.

      You guys in the states see the same bullshit, although it is not _quite_ as dramatic (yet) because you still have a handful of telecoms fighting over the market. Up here Bell is god, and has been for nearly a century, because every time they've been split up or shoo'd out of an area, they have bought back their shares in the newly-formed companies that replaced them. The few conglomerates they don't own outright, they collude with, like Rogers and Videotron. There is no real competition.

      Bell is so ominous up here, many people mistakenly believe it is a crown corporation run by the government. The CRTC, which is supposed to be a media watchdog, is Bell's lap dog. Let me put it to you this way: If the Bush family ran a telco the way they ran a country, Bell Canada would be the result.

  • Thats it... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:42AM (#27594797)
    I'm moving to.. oh. Well fuck them!
    • Re:Thats it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by shimojimatto (1220722) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:51AM (#27595031)

      I'm moving to.. oh. Well fuck them!

      Move to Japan! The AWESOME internet choices are endless!

      1000Mbit fibre Optic for $50/mo after a $300 setup fee (this service is pretty new)
      Unlimited usage... no caps... no filters

      OR
      100Mbit fibre optic for $60~70 a month no setup fee
      Unlimited usage... no caps... no filters

      OR
      50Mbit ADSL for $30 a month.. no setup fee
      Unlimited usage... no caps... no filters

      OR
      3.0Mbit (down... only about 1Mbit up) wireless internet anywhere through the cell network for varying prices based on data usage...

      And those top 3 also usually include free IP phones and some sort of video download service... optional Video On Demand services etc.etc...

      Why does the US suck so bad?

      • Re:Thats it... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arogier (1250960) * on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:10AM (#27595095) Homepage Journal
        Not everything going on in the US broadband wise is completely disheartening. Last week my hometown passed a bond initiative to fund fiber to the home as a municipal utility.
        http://www.highlandilnews.com/index.html [highlandilnews.com]
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by BAKup (40339)

          Now just wait for the local Telco and Cableco to sue your hometown for doing that. While your town is getting sued, they will start building out their own network while the town is having to fight in court and not be able to do any work.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Abcd1234 (188840)

          Watch it, dude, that's socialism! Don't you see? Your township is now on the slippery slope to becoming a pinko commune filled with evil godless heathens hell bent on destroying the American way of life! Soon enough, you'll be French, and then what'll you do??

      • Because here they can charge people until they cry. The market currently supports it, so it will continue.

      • >>>Move to Japan! The AWESOME internet choices are endless!.....Why does the US suck so bad?

        It doesn't. The U.S. average speed is comparable to other continent-sized nations. In fact the European Union and United States are essentially tied, and both ahead of China, Brazil, and Mexico:

        Korea 18 Mbit/s
        Japan 16
        Russian Federation 7
        European Union, United States 6
        Canada, Australia 5
        Brazil, China 2
        Mexico 1 Mbit/s

        And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis, you will notice the fastest places are

      • by neoform (551705)

        Move to Japan! The AWESOME internet choices are endless!

        I hear emigrating to Japan is a breeze, they hand out citizenships like toilet paper.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:50AM (#27594829)

    No wholesale provider here in Australia could impose such charges on 3rd party ISPs in this way, if they did, the ACCC would put a stop to that. (at least as far as fixed line DSL goes)

    • by freedom_india (780002) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:01AM (#27594867) Homepage Journal

      Australia??? The land where Telescum is the provider of crappy broadband experience, and where Optus sucks??
      Where the Government has plans to engage in gagging free speech at a level that will make Himmler jealous?
      Seriously??

      • by Techman83 (949264)
        Yeah as backwards as the current government seems to be, certain things have been put in place in the past. Telstra internally isn't even allowed to talk to it's own wholesale department.

        Not to say the situation is at all that great here, Telstra have a monopoly, especially in Mobile phones (Leave any major city and you'll only get Telstra coverage)
      • Canada should look to Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the Australian government will build a new $43 billion national broadband network [today.com], connecting 90% of homes to 100-megabit fibre internet. "We believe that fast broadband is absolutely essential for our nation's future", he said.

        "Telstra has raised issues with the amount of bandwidth usage this will produce, given we're still hooked to America by tin cans and string, but our Great Firewall of Australia Internet filtering project

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:27AM (#27594955) Journal

      Australia? Where you get charged $150 a gigabyte for excess usage? As detailed in the light grey text in smaller font underneath the plan? Yeah, we're doing great.

      Telstra: Additional usage charged at $0.15/MB [bigpond.com].
      Optus: Excess Data: $0.15/MB up to 2 GB then Speed Limited to 64 kbps [broadbandguide.com.au]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RuBLed (995686)
        I don't live in Australia and I can't believe the pages you had sent. A 1GB cap (combined upload and download) per month at at least 8Mbps speeds. Isn't that like consuming your bandwidth in a few minutes after (accidentally) clicking some HD video streaming site? Why not limit it in speeds? I'm inclined to think that the ISPs there like their victims to rack up additional charges and laugh maniacally while printing the bills.
      • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:03AM (#27595065)

        I am paying AU$50 per month and getting 25GB (10GB peak and 15GB off peak) per month with no excess usage charges ever. If I exceed the 25GB, I get shaped back down to 64kbps for the rest of the month. Only idiots who sign up with Tel$tra BigPond or Optarse get hit with crap like that, there are options available (no matter what bit of gear your phone line is hooked up to) that have no excess usage fees ever. (pretty much all of them do have the "you get x amount per month and then get shaped down to 64k or 128k for the rest of the month" though)

        • by Malc (1751)

          I was paying almost half that with Teksavvy when I lived in Toronto (up to last year). I was on the "premium" plan, which gave me 100GB/mo. I can't remember what the charge was for exceeding that, but it was reasonable. Their other non-premuum plan had unlimited usage, but used transit/peer connections or something that weren't as good (i.e. higher or variable latency).

          In Australia, if you have DSL but not ADSL2+, many people have 384kbs upstream or less (yes, I'm one of them), which is just ridiculous.

  • by Dr J. keeps the nerd (1061562) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:06AM (#27594891)
    The CRTC requires Bell to resell its lines for fixed rates. Bell must offer service that's at least as good as what it provides to its own customers. As the regulated rate is below Bell's own rate of return from an actual Bell customer, Bell has no incentive to provide better service that what it provides to its own customers. If the CRTC allowed for other arrangements, Bell could strike a deal with a wholesaler to offer unlimited service at a higher price. As it stands, it can't. Nothing here is surprising.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:38AM (#27595529)

      Not really. For wholesale DSL, "Bell" is two different companies. One division (Nexxia?) owns the last mile and is the reseller to wholesale DSL providers. The other division, "Sympatico", is Bell's internet retailer.

      The CRTC can only mandate what the 'last-mile' division of Bell does. Sympatico is free to do whatever it wants. The Sympatico tail is wagging the Nexxia dog.

      The CRTC needs to keep Nexxia on a leash and allow for proper competition between Sympatico (DSL retailer) and all the other DSL retailers that get wholesale access to the last-mile network.

    • by bartok (111886)

      Bell make more than enough money to both maintain and enhance the infrastucture it was given the *priviliedge* to administer. Your argument is bogus.

      • Bell make more than enough money to both maintain and enhance the infrastucture it was given the *priviliedge* to administer.

        When looking at the company as a whole, I agree with you. However, with more and more people dropping land lines in favour of cell phones, and more and more people using the cheaper DSL and voice resellers, I wouldn't be surprised that there's a financial pinch within a Bell division/subsidiary somewhere along the line.

        What should happen is a complete separation of physical prov
  • Why are they constantly attempting this, even tho users will always be mad?

    And with these high prices too ... If the per gb price would even be something sensible! I transfer probably over 1Tb a month (backups, video feeds etc), so 0.25 would endup being 250euros per month for me ... Many times what i currently pay

    • It isn't Bell raising it's prices. Bell owns the last mile lines which it is forced to lease out to competition. Bell is raising it's competitors prices. That this would even get considered is scary.
  • Where I pay around 60 times what Americans pay per gig (at a whopping 384kb/s) and I have a really cheap service provider :)
  • Go kill progress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:42AM (#27595217) Journal

    Everything these days are done on the internet from entertainment to doing taxes.
    In some countries the goverment are even investing money in internet connectivity to provide better connections to more people.
    But when you then start to charge by usage then you'll see people stop using it and development slows down.
    One would think it was better for the country as a whole to have people to embrace the technology rather than do bean counting on their internet traffic.

  • That's a nice internet you have there.
    It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:53AM (#27595397)
    you pay by usage for every other commodity, so why not bandwidth too?

    If this had been the model from the very start (when modems ruled the earth), it would be taken as normal. It's only because the data volumes of users have been low, that it's not worth billing per megabyte. However now we have the "power users" (read: bandwidth hogs) bleating on, as if someone's taking away their candy.

    • by Minupla (62455)

      Balderdash.

      If bandwidth hogs were the issue they'd be going after companies who share a DSL with 100 staff. Ours is pegged all day every day. Check Bell's rate plans, business bandwidth is unlimited. How are the third parties going to compete with that? If Bell can sell unlimited bandwidth to business clients, shouldn't their wholesalers?

      The issue is they want to put their competition out of business. Simple. They like being a monopoly (who wouldn't?) and want to make it as unprofitable as possible to

      • If bandwidth hogs were the issue they'd be going after companies who share a DSL with 100 staff.

        Not that many comapnies have 100 employees, and those with more than that will have something like a leased line rather than DSL.

        Plus I'm sure they charge plenty more for a business line.

    • If this had been the model from the very start (when modems ruled the earth), it would be taken as normal.

      It did start like that initially. In France, the Minitel was charging by the minute (for most non-essential services). And in the US, the AOL service was charging by the minute as well. I remember that time well, one month -- my family had to pay AOL $500. The only other competitors were Prodigy and Compuserve (both were still using awful looking DOS interfaces, and I believe they also both charged by

    • you pay by usage for every other commodity, so why not bandwidth too?

      Do we pay by the minute or hour of (digital) cable TV? No. So why then are other bits coming down the exact same wire any different?
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:58AM (#27595415) Homepage

    Ultimately I think Internet access may well be another utility like water or electricity. It sort of makes sense to pay for what you use, so to speak.

    But the charge should be so low that you need to really strain your connection a lot to feel it, and at the same time normal monthly fees need to go away.

    I don't like the idea, but it makes sense economically. It costs energy to move packets around and keep networks running. The more you use the more you should pay.

    But having some crazy base fee and then some punitive extra usage fee on top of that... No thanks.

    • by Locklin (1074657)

      Water and electricity have monthly connection fees that are fixed in most places. Usage is tacked on top of that. If you use zero electricity or water for a given month, you will still get a (smaller) bill covering the infrastructure.

    • I don't like the idea, but it makes sense economically. It costs energy to move packets around and keep networks running. The more you use the more you should pay.

      Turn on a switch. Connect it to the network and let it start handling packets. Measure its power consumption. Now increase the traffic to 100% capacity of the switch. Measure its power consumption again. How big is the difference? Is it really so big that it costs the astronomical amount companies like Bell charge for going over your monthly

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:17AM (#27595459) Journal

    - That means charge a very low initial access fee. Say $5-$10 max per month
    - Don't force customers to pay for 20GB/month if they're not using it
    - Don't force customers to predict how much they'll be using period then take their money anyway if they don't use it
    - Do not charge a ridiculous amount beyond the cap. Charge a fixed rate per GB and keep it reasonable

    ISPs and phone companies have had it too good for too long oversubscribing and overcharging for people using way under their quota. This move isn't to make things fair - it's to gouge heavy users. I don't pay $10 for my first 5 litres of petrol then $400 for my next 5 litres. One reason is that I could go to the competition. ISPs typically have monopoly, near monopoly or at best duopoly. They are NOT playing fair.

    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:00AM (#27595835)
      The problem is that Bell has a monopoly. To deal with this they are forced to sell their lines to other companies to compete with them. But now they are charging said companies per usage which is not how it is supposed to work for backbones. This will result in tripling the cost of competitors services. Which will in turn kill their competition and give them another monopoly. Teksavvy customers paying for the over 200GB/mo service (40$) will end up paying almost 200$ a month in the low end.

      Another thing that Bell has been doing is shaping. They have been shaping Teksavvy's customers for years now. Which I think is another fairly clear abuse of monopoly power. Teksavvy is completely against the practice, had they their own lines they would not throttle torrent users or anything like that...
      • by canajin56 (660655)
        It's not even for backbones. The independent ISPs still have to pay for their own internet access. This $1/GB charge, plus the packet filtering, is done on the DSL connections themselves! TekSavvy does not get to use Bell's backbone connection, they must pay to run their own to Bell. This is just for the copper line and the DSLAM that's placed on it.
    • by Hizonner (38491) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:46AM (#27596157)

      I agree. UBB actually makes a lot of sense, but the UBB structure they're proposing is wrong. If you're going to bill on usage, bill on usage; don't set up some arbitrary cap at which the rate goes insane.

      I don't think it's a matter of gouging heavy users, though. Not exactly, anyway. The problem is that the carriers sized their infrastructure on the assumption that the subscriber base would grow a lot, but the data transferred per subscriber would not grow as much as it has. They didn't see mass-scale P2P file sharing coming along, let alone YouTube coming along and replacing cable TV.

      So now they have a big, expensive, inadequate infrastructure (and an inadequate pricing model to go with it). The depreciation schedules they based their plans on require that infrastructure to last a long time before it gets replaced, but it's already being overwhelmed.

      I think what they're really trying to do is less to gouge heavy users, and more to discourage heavy use entirely, so that they can continue to limp along on their old infrastructure long enough for it to pay for itself.

      In other words, they screwed up their market forecasts, and now they want everybody do without improved service until they make their money back based on those flawed forecasts.

      Of course it was their screwup in the first place, and most of them (I don't know about Bell or Canada) got a lot of subsidies and tax breaks based on promises of fabulous networks. They then kept as much of that money as they could get away with while building out the cheap network they thought they could get away with. I therefore think they (their shareholders) should really be first in line to eat the costs of writing off the infrastructure they built in error.

      Then they can go ahead and do UBB to create a revenue stream to get financing to build a proper network.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dhalka226 (559740)

        but it's already being overwhelmed.

        Is it? I can't find the precise post, but in a similar thread a few days back a slashdotter dug through a cable company (Time Warner?)'s financial filings. For their broadband business, they brought in $4 billion dollars last year, and their costs for it were around $230 million*. Let's assume, just to be nice to them, that those costs don't include employees and such, and let's be super-dooper-extra-nice and say that brings their total broadband costs to $2 billion.

  • by debrain (29228) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:02AM (#27595843) Journal

    As I understand it, the deadline for filing comments on the UBB passed on midnight April 14th, 2009.

    If you nevertheness wish to file (and high volume of comments, albeit late, may nevertheless be of interest to the CRTC), the commentary ought to fall under "Tariff", and an appropriate subject might be File Number #8740-B2-200904989 - Bell Canada - TN7181.

    Keep in mind that this is DSLAM bandwidth (i.e. the "last mile" copper wire) that Bell proposes to impose this tariff on. It is not network bandwidth from an ISP to the backbone. Bell is obliged to sell DSLAM access on a wholesale basis to competitor ISPs. For interesting statistics, consider reading this: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r20690166-The-Bell-Disclosure [dslreports.com] -- the statistics read, if I understand it (and there's a pretty decent chance I don't) the risk to a customer of having less than 100% bandwidth available at any one point is exceedingly low (i.e. less than 1% of it occurring for less than five minutes on any given day).

    Interestingly, Bell has not disclosed how much money it has paid for Arbour Networks' deep packet inspection and bandwidth limiting hardware. I understand, informally and anecdotally (and, again, there's a decent chance I'm wrong), that the amount spent on the bandwidth limiting hardware greatly exceeds the cost of upgrading the DSLAMs to eliminate any risk of the above mentioned rare less-than-complete bandwidth. I would quite like to see more information on the cost of Arbour Networks' bandwidth limiting hardware, and the cost of upgrading DSLAMS. Hopefully the CRTC board does, too.

    • The CRTC is probably used to getting 2~3 emails a day. I'm sure getting a hundred even a few days late will be of interest to them haha.
    • by bartok (111886)

      Thanks for the info. I sent them a letter.

  • The teksavvy email every customer got, nice to see an ISP fighting filtering even if it is for their benefit. The enemy of my enemy I guess...

    Dear Valued Customer,

    We are writing to you today as many activities are underway to shape/reshape
    Internet use as you all know it. Over the last year some of you have been
    made aware and/or have seen activities on throttling in the news or in your
    daily lives. Another proceeding relating to the Internet in Canada required
    Telecom providers (Bell/Telus/etc.) to pro
  • As soon as customers start getting charged by the kilobyte, everyone is going to turn off ads. I don't bother with ad blocking right now since I have plenty of bandwidth and I'm lazy. But if I have to *pay* to watch some stupid flash ad in the side of a web page you for sure I will install the ad block plug-in.

    Once everyone starts doing this, internet advertizing will be less attractive and advertizers will go back to newspapers. OK, so maybe that is a little far fetched. But my point remains, selling i

  • I urge all Canadian slashdotters to write to the CRTC and lodge a complaint. If they receive enough complaints from informed people (and I'd like to think we're a relatively informed lot), they will hopefully take action and put an end to Bell's shenanigans. Until they are put in their place, they will continue to abuse their infrastructure monopoly.
  • ( excuse the vague "profit" comparison here )

    1 - charge per use, people balk ' why do i need that internet thing'
    2 - make it unlimited flat rate and people love it and flock to sign up
    3 - let people get used to it for a decade or so
    4 - start overselling to get the last few holdouts
    5 - slowly add caps, incrementally so people to complain to much
    6 - reinstate charges per use now that its an integral part of daily life.

    Sounds like drug dealers to me.

  • "...Teksavvy has informed it's customers that were this to go through the current monthly cap would be quartered"

    Will they be drawn as well as quartered?

    Isn't that extreme overkill for just exceeding a usage cap?

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanged,_drawn_and_quartered [wikipedia.org]

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:31PM (#27599139)

    ...from the Slashdot readership. Now can we do something about it?

    Let's do something in the style of the Beagleboard. Design and build a bare board for ultra wide band radio, aimed squarely at establishing a mesh network. That is, design from the beginning for every node to simultaneously "connect" to multiple other nodes. Design for as much range as we can squeeze out of it, while still maintaining the ability to ramp up to as much usable bandwidth as possible as nodes get closer together.

    I thought about suggesting a Beagledaughterboard. The Beagleboard has lots of pins available on its expansion header, and even more pins available on its LCD header that can be repurposed in software. Making it a Beagledaughterboard would mean there would be very few inquiries from random people wanting to know why the board they bought from Digikey doesn't work when they plug it into their Windows XP machine.

    On the other hand, designing it as a USB2.0 highspeed client device would mean that it would work practically anywhere, given software support. The chips and parts required to speak USB2.0 are dirt cheap and trivially available. I'll volunteer to write the software drivers, if somebody will design the hardware.

    So... where are the hardware people? I know damn well that lots of you read /. Anybody want to kick the phone company in the nuts? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

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