The debate over user-based billing (UBB) has become a news drama with one side, represented primarily by Bell and Rogers in Ontario, lobbying the CRTC to charge users on a pay-as-you-go basis. Or offering packages with lower caps with penalties for exceeding them. The other side, users, are crying “Foul!”
In between are the debates. Is an information utility really like a gas utility, as the CRTC claims, or is this further obfuscation of the real situation. Should the Internet be as close as possible to a free resource, within limits, in order to meet the expectations of a digital age with streaming audio and video, or is this a naive point of view?
What is obvious is that the CRTC decision in favor of the bandwidth utilities has angered tens of thousands of users and created so much heat that the Prime Minister’s office say they’ll rescind the change and ask the CRTC to go back to the drawing board.
The trouble with the debates is lack of information. The utilities haven’t provided a set of real costs involved for providing the services. And even if they did, there’s no one able to verify whether the costs are as stated, or are inflated for the purpose of wringing additional profits out of their services
Both the utilities and the CRTC claim that it’s essentially “bad” people who use the most bandwidth, people pirating movies and the like. I’ve not seen any figures to back this up. It sounds like a straw man argument.
With no audited costs put forward, and no verifiable arguments put forward, I think the CRTC was foolish to take the utilities at their word. I have no quarrel with the concept of user based billing, provided it’s fair to consumers. There is currently no way to gauge the fairness.
For example. Not long ago I purchased a Fibe 25 plan from Bell. Great speed, and they gave me a 300GB per month cap, with a penalty if I ran over. Presumably they wouldn’t have offered me this plan if it weren’t profitable for them.
Now, at the time of the CRTC decision, my online usage shows that I’ve been reduced to a 75GB cap with a bit more for insurance, which comes to less than half my previous cap.
So, why do I get the idea I’ve been gouged. And promised something that was taken away after I’d already started using it.
If anyone asks, I’m forced to say I have Fib 25 from Bell as my service. More Fib than Fibe.