Consumer backlash surges; Vancouver’s OpenMedia says ‘broadband is about to cost much more for Canadians’

Few were happy when the CRTC announced a decision that may spell disaster for smaller internet providers and further oligopolist powers for the major providers—”This has to be the most preposterous ruling the CRTC has ever made,” was one public comment we received on an article related to the topic.

Now, the backlash has become highly evident everywhere. And no wonder: OpenMedia, a consumer advocacy group that’s against usage-based billing, said in a release that, “if this decision goes unchecked, broadband is about to cost much more for Canadians.

So naturally there’s cause for concern that our internet bills may—rather, will go up—even though Canadians already pay hefty premiums so that certain internet providers may pull in nearly 100 percent profit. How much worse can it get?

OpenMedia’s mission statement reads, “To advance and support a media communications system in Canada that adheres to the principles of access, choice, diversity, innovation and openness.” Maybe CRTC could adopt some of that.

The Vancouver-based company is at least pleased to see a public uprise against the decision, though. Founder Steve Anderson observes that YouTube videos on usage-based billing are drawing in high numbers of views, and a petition floating around has already collected more than 40,000 signatures. Meanwhile, Telus suggests the costs are justified not from direct gigabyte consumption (a 20,000 percent markup), but from the capital-intensive infrastructure laid out beforehand:

Quoth The Province:

“People are writing to their MPs, 40,000 have signed our petition, people are writing letters to editors. It is a really interesting grassroots community that has sprung up around this,” [Steve Anderson] said. The major ISPs argue that usage-based pricing is fair, making heavier Internet users pay more than people who may only use it for email and occasional web surfing.

Shawn Hall, a representative for Telus, which wasn’t involved in the CRTC case, said providing Internet infrastructure is capital-intensive. “It is an enormously capital-intensive industry,” he said. “Telus invested $1.7 billion on infrastructure last year and another $1.7 billion this year on broadband and wireless, primarily to offer Internet access over wireless or wired. It just wouldn’t be fair for a moderate user of the infrastructure we are investing in to pay as much as someone using a lot of bandwidth.”

Nonetheless, this public firestorm is apt to prove a nightmare for the CRTC. But does that mean it will actually reverse the decision? It hasn’t yet commented on that matter, but the organization by nature should work toward a goal agreeable by both the internet providers (big and small) and the consumers—and right now, this decision only satisifes one of those three demographics.

The one that already had a cushy situation before.

This video below from the CBC was also posted by OpenMedia as it outlines the basics of usage-based billing and also shows you how easily your internet bill can double if this decision goes through:

And, observe OpenMedia’s brutally honest comments on the video:

Online petitions don’t do very much; The music, TV, and movie industries are lobbying for this bullshit to pass. Not to mention every large company (previously named offenders included) with a stake in the internet (Youtube [Google] wouldn’t mind I’m sure). What can we do? This a money grab.

Big corporations do this and there’s no way to fight back except to boycott, or to invent a brand new technology that somehow ends up making bandwidth really cheap for ladies and gentlemen of the internet.

Stop the Meter here.