Are the arguments for UBB just BS?

23 Feb

Peter Nowak seems to think so. And I’ve got a HUGE crush on Peter Nowak. Huge. But let’s just pretend that’s not going to affect my opinions.

Honestly, I’m not going to be able to state the arguments against usage-based billing (UBB) for the internet any better than Nowak did when he talked about the 10 myths from usage based billing supporters. I suggest reading his article, especially if you’re not sure what the whole debate is about in the first place. He gives a completely biased view of the subject, with a nicely balanced selection of links that, if clicked upon, will give you all the both-sides-background information you need.

I’m obviously against UBB. I think it’s just plain dumb and greedy. Yet the media seems to be torn. So, the question comes, why?

Why the hell should we switch to UBB?

Is it, as claimed by the Financial Post, that “we must face the reality of the super-heavy user, who threatens to impact the Internet experience of all customers. Approximately 15% of users consume the vast majority of our bandwidth at peak periods — and most of them are customers of third-party ISPs. We estimate that these users represent less than one in 50 of the total Internet customer base in Canada. In other words, it’s almost certainly not you.”

Which, among other random numbers the Financial Post decided to spout in this article, has no statistical backing and has not been proven–at all. As one reader commented, “Break out the popcorn, the National Post are officially running two Entertainment Sections now, though notably, this newly anointed section section [sic] specializes in pure fiction.”

An editorial in Canadian Business discusses how the large ISPs are having a bad business model forced on them (there’s a terrible hamburger metaphor used), yet seems to forget that UBB would effectively neuter business models for internet start-ups. Concepts like Hulu or Netflix are basically impossible. And it fails to mention that even after all the money these large ISPs are losing by investing in infrastructure and giving handouts to the smaller ISPs, companies like Bell reported a 13% profit increase from 2009 to 2010.

Still not making enough money guys?

Don’t worry, I’m sure that you can still make some profit on media sales. Like, for example, Maclean’s, which seems to prefer advertising for parent-company Rogers than actually writing a piece of investigative journalism. And admitting in the article that you’re owned by Rogers doesn’t mean you’ve just written something unbiased. That’s like Hitler announcing, “I hate the Jews,” and then assuming his announcement now gives him the right to go ahead and commit genocide. Just ’cause you admit it doesn’t mean it’s okay.

But I digress.

“The internet should be fair–not free–to everyone” is Maclean’s opinion on the matter. Yet the internet–especially considering the duopoly of Bell and Rogers–is neither fair nor free in Canada, so I’m not sure exactly what point Maclean’s is trying to make here. They seem to be saying that if one uses lots of internet, one should pay more. It’s like any other utility, right?

Well, no, it’s not. Again, Nowak says this better than I can, but the point is that it’s not like we’re running out of internet. It’s not a finite resource. Once I use it, it’s not gone. It is, for all intents and purposes, limitless. Unless we randomly run out of ones and zeros.

So, no. It’s not like a utility at all actually. Yes, money is needed for delivery, but we’re already paying that.

In the end, it boils down to the last point on Nowak’s list and the thing that has been on my mind since the first time George Stroumboulopoulos told me about the whole UBB thing: no other country in the world seems to need UBB, so why the hell does Canada?

I’m left wondering exactly what the arguments for UBB actually are.

Does anyone know?

And please, make your voice in this matter heard before April 29th:

CRTC
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2
Toll-free telephone: 1-877-249-2782
Fax: 819-994-0218

Sign the online petition that’s been provided by Open Media.

And don’t be afraid to harass Minister of Industry Tony Clement:

Industry Canada
Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5
Canada
613-995-9001
Email: Minister.industry@ic.gc.ca

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2 Responses to “Are the arguments for UBB just BS?”

  1. Kaare February 25, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    Very well written, my lady. Why are you not a published journalist?

    • Angie Pants February 25, 2011 at 4:47 am #

      I ask myself the same question all the time and come up with the same answer consistently–I’m too lazy.

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