Matt Lasar/Ars Technica: Metering: Lack of Competition, Not Congestion

by on Jul.12, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original article at Ars Technica)

[. . .]

Newspaper reports suggest that at least some [Canadian Telecommunications (CRTC)] commissioners aren’t buying arguments that the telcos need [usage-based billing] to “discipline” consumers so that they won’t congest networks with excessive downloading.

“No single user or wholesale customer is the cause of congestion,” Bell vice-president Mirko Bibic explained to the CRTC at the event. “But clearly, wholesale users contribute a disproportionate share of total traffic, and by extension, congestion.”

This did not impress CRTC Vice Chair Len Katz. “When I took a look at your forecast over the next five years, (Internet traffic) growth seems to have curtailed,” he challenged the telco. “Am I missing something here?”

[. . .]

Canadian telecommunications advocate Michael Geist has been following the hearings as well. “By the time lunch rolled around, it was clear that claims that usage based billing practices are a response to network congestion is a myth,” Geist wrote about Monday’s discussions.

[. . .]

This event follows a long and controversial debate about UBB. The fight went into high gear when the CRTC acceded to telco requests last September, granting them the right to charge indie ISPs on a metered wholesale basis (plus a 15 percent discount).

But in January, one of the indies published its new rate schedule just before the policy was about to go into effect. This included data caps that dropped from 200GB to 25GB in exchange for monthly rates that jumped by about CAN$10 a month.

The yogurt hit the fan. Over a third of a million people (around one percent of Canada’s population) signed’s petition against wholesale metered billing. With all of Canada’s top parties raising hay about the matter, and elections approaching, Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper got the memo. The government told the CRTC to suspend the decision—or have it done for them from above.

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