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Bell toots an extinguisher on UBB, Netflix pours gasoline

Is Netflix trying to embarrass Canada into getting with the times?


 

Netflix's new killer feature: crappy compression for Canadians

Until yesterday, Bell Canada’s message to the 470,000 Canadians who stand in opposition to Usage Based Billing could be summarized as follows: You are confused. Go home.

In interview after interview, Bell spokesman Mirko Bibic sought to educate the angry horde—they simply didn’t understand that the CRTC’s pro-UBB decision would only impact the small minority of users who subscribe to independent Internet providers. If you were with any of the big telcos, this wasn’t your fight. He was technically right: mainstream subscribers are already being billed outrageously for bandwidth “overages” and the CRTC isn’t even thinking of stepping in.

Somehow, this message failed to resonate.

Yesterday, Bibic took another tack. “Wholesale UBB is now gone,” he announced.  “It will not be implemented.”  The indie ISPs will still be able to offer unlimited service, and the rest of us can declare victory and go back to paying up to $5 a gig from providers like Bell.

Bibic still doesn’t get it.  The half million Canadians who signed the Stop the Meter petition didn’t do so because they were ignorant of the distinctions between wholesale and retail or because they are strangely concerned with the pricing models of a bunch of tiny ISPs who collectively comprise 6% of the market. They signed the petition because they are not stupid. They see that Canada’s big ISPs are attempting to cap the amount of data transferred by all Canadians, regardless of which ISP they are with, and that is what they oppose.

Netflix gets it. Yesterday they announced that they would deal with mainstream ISP UBB by allowing customers to drastically compress the quality of the video they watch. Yes, that’s innovation in Canada: new players can indeed compete, by grossly degrading their product to a level beneath anything they’d dare offer to Americans. True, it may be a publicity stunt on Netflix’s part, a calculated move to embarrass Canada into getting with the times. If so, it’s a brilliant one.

But will it be effective? Only if the half million angry Canadians stay that way and make UBB an election issue.


 
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Bell toots an extinguisher on UBB, Netflix pours gasoline

  1. In the last 5 years none of my phones or internet have anything to do with Bell…..

  2. Zing! Bell and Rogers are desperately trying to protect their aging business models, TV and phone service, this is the real reason for caps and throttling. The future is the internet, a unified data pipeline for TV, phones, games, whatever. Our internet is crap in this country because of vested interests, its obvious. I think most Canadians under 50 probably realize this and will dump the duopoly as soon as good competition steps in. Can't wait.

    • I'll chime in for the over 50's : not Bell nor Rogers will see a penny from me . And many other like me. Ever tried to do business with these arrogant monolith's ? Impossible

      • The problem is Bell and Rogers DO see a penny from you, just not directly; no matter what ISP you choose, the run off the backbone of Big Telco. The only way we have in this country to not have Bell, Rogers or Telus earn a dime from us on internet service is to *not have internet service*! That's criminal

  3. not 'attempting to cap' … they are, and have been. I got rid of my satellite last summer, and have switched to zip.ca for my limited viewing but probably will go to netflix. When I first started with bell expressvu it was $37 /mth for a package now it's more like $80 for the same package – full of commercials anyway.

  4. I agree the real crime is not UBB to wholesale, it's the criminal overages at retail on woefully inadequate base packages. Think you've got it bad ? try being a client in Rural Canada, my bill last month 22 gig $275.

  5. Internet should be 10 dollars a month max for unlimited. We are being GOUGED.

  6. Here is a good business model:
    Netflix:
    1) We are sorry that you experienced problems while using Netflix on your game console. Here is some credit of the next bill.
    5 cents – whatever – however look at the approach!
    1) We are sorry that CA ISPs are complete ******** (insert here what you think is more appropriate), so we will give an option to decrease amount of traffic that you generate: 30hrs/9gigs.
    Ha! Get that Bell? Your cap failed here, nobody wants your overpriced pay per view.
    Rogers/Bell:
    Complete silence.
    Me: Where did that charge come from?
    R: Let me transfer you to another department?
    ….
    Why is my VoIP traffic is throttled?
    ….
    Why am I paying 60$ for XX mbit down and only 1 up?!!!
    ….
    Why paying 80$ for crappy TV content with 1/3 of it being commercials?

    Time to retire..

  7. None dare call it a cartel, but that’s exactly what we have here in Canada – a telecom cartel. The companies that own BDUs (cable/satellite/fiber) also own Internet retail and backbone carriers, cellular phone operations, landline phone operations, pay TV channels, and terrestrial radio and TV broadcasters. Most of the private broadcast and telecom services in this country are ultimately owned by Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor. Telus has a subset of the above.

    The incredibly high retail bandwidth rates offered by the cartel, and Bell’s efforts to impose them upon competitive carriers using the infrastructure installed when Bell was a Crown corporation, are but a symptom of the much greater problems with media control in this country.

  8. You right!

    Let's talk about Step #2:
    – HW 407 should stop charging by distanse!
    – Mobile phones must stop billing by minutes!
    – Hydro have to stop unfear electricity policy!
    – Taxi must go the TTC way – charge per trip!
    – Air Canada obliged give us the same price for Thailand and for Ottawa!

    • I am not a big fan of hydro's "unfear" electricity policy either. We need a nuclear plant to go Chernobyl!

    • Serge T.

      You’re one of those out of touch people that have absolutely no idea how network technology operates. Bits and bytes are not a finite resource buddy. No one else IN THE WORLD has such prohibitive internet usage restraints. This is a HUGE LEAP in the wrong direction. It will stifle competition and ensure Bell / Rogers can gouge Canadians even more so than they are now.

      Bell/Rogers and Telus are THE MOST PROFITABLE cellphone companies IN THE WORLD with a combined profit margin of 45.9 per cent, well above the developed world’s average of 33.1 per cent!!! You can thank decades of lobbying and idiotic decision making on the part of the CRTC.

      You sir are completely ill informed and ignorant of the issue at hand. Please do some research before spewing your trash.

    • The difference, of course, is that while the telcos will charge you more if you use more, they won't give you any discounts if you use less.

      I just purchased a cellphone that lets me pay $.35/minute. Period. I don't use it, I don't get charged.
      If I don't use my Bell or Rogers bandwidth, I get charged the full amount anyway.

      If they want to charge me per Gig, fine, do that. But charge me less as I use less as well.

    • Nice try.

    • This is ridiculous. Serg has a POINT and he gets 26 thumbs down? Does no one here understand that Canada has a very different population to serve and that our geography is different as well? We are a small, dispersed population, and the cost of serving that population is higher than it is in the US. The people commenting on this article (and its author) just want cheap Internet, and want the established ISPs to pay for it. The spokesperson for Bell was right, most people just don't understand the issue.

    • Wow, so the astroturfers they're hiring to fight this can't even spell or use grammar properly? Shows how desperate they must be if they have to hire from the bottom of the barrel.

  9. Hey Jesse, do you subscribe to Netflix? I thought you stole all your TV shows and movies from GigaNews and BitTorrent?

    • Steal from BitTorrent?

      Do you even how torrents function?

  10. @Serg T. "I believe everything they say on TV" Oh sweet insolence and farm life…
    You cannot measure data the same way in tangible resources.

  11. Ok, can someone help me here. Which party would help us with this issue, I might want to make it an election issue, but where do they stand?

    Thanks

    • Stephen Harper / Tony Clement we’re the ones that forced the CRTC to repeal the CRTC’s decision back in February. But no one has raised this as a campaign issue (yet). With 475 000 online Canadians activists indicating their displeasure on this issue, I think any party would be stupid NOT to address the issue. The CRTC’s mandate needs to be updated to the information age, it’s over almost two decades old and is not in touch with the realities we face today. I wrote to my MP asking him to address this issue, I suggest you do the same.

      2008 was the lowest % voter turnout rate in Canadian history. People need a reason to vote and hundreds of thousands of Canadian feel very strong about this issue. Hopefully this can bring some of them in to vote.

  12. Serge T.

    You’re one of those out of touch people that have absolutely no idea how network technology operates. Bits and bytes are not a finite resource buddy. No one else IN THE WORLD has such prohibitive internet usage restraints. This is a HUGE LEAP in the wrong direction. It will stifle competition and ensure Bell / Rogers can gouge Canadians even more so than they are now.

    Bell/Rogers and Telus are THE MOST PROFITABLE cellphone companies IN THE WORLD with a combined profit margin of 45.9 per cent, well above the developed world’s average of 33.1 per cent!!! You can thank decades of lobbying and idiotic decision making on the part of the CRTC.

    You sir are completely ill informed and ignorant of the issue at hand. Please do some research before spewing your trash.

    • Ummm, last time I checked, bits and bytes are a finite resource. Oh, or are you telling me you have an infinite hard drive? Oh, or that neighborhood fiber switch is capable of infinite traffic? You can put a price on every bit transmitted, even if it is a ridiculously small one. The rest of the world has better faster networks because we have more land per person (thus more expensive date infrastructure) than almost any other 1st world country in the world. Do I advocate UBB? Maybe, if there was competition so that the big names in Canada didn't use it as an excuse to charge more, which we all know they would. Until there's no more monopoly's, there can't be UBB, or we all lose. Be careful, sir, that you don't start spewing trash before you do your own research.

    • Bandwidth *is* finite. There is only so much traffic any network can sustain until speeds grind to a halt.

      • True, but that does not have to do much with download cap. If they want to protect peek period performance they need to reduce speed they are selling and not total downloads. If I pay for 5Mbit they can either provide it or not unrelated to how much I download in non peek times. If two percent of people bring the network to grind it is not good enough to begin with…

  13. Harper is against UBB… from Tony Clement "Prime Minister Harper and I have been clear that we cannot support imposing a UBB business model on wholesale Internet service providers."

    • Only for some:

      "Yesterday, Bibic took another tack. “Wholesale UBB is now gone,” he announced. ”It will not be implemented.” The indie ISPs will still be able to offer unlimited service, and the rest of us can declare victory and go back to paying up to $5 a gig from providers like Bell."

      So, if you're stuck with Bell or Rogers, as many small business customers are – if only for convenience and the absence of disruption of your info chain – you're still paying up to 500 X times actual cost of delivery of an infinite resource for 'overages' (which are random , arbitrary and very. very profitable).

  14. WOW look at that! Finally someone at Macleans gets it…

    I canceled my subscription over this nameless article: http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/02/18/the-internet-s
    Finally someone gets it, please make sure that nameless editors read this article, they costed magazine quite a few readers and tarnished Macleans reputation. Very late to the party but at least something…

    Congrats!

    • I was reading that article and got to this point and stopped reading – "At issue is the ability of Internet carriers such as Bell Canada and Rogers Communications (the parent company of Maclean's) to establish usage-based billing, by which all customers pay incrementally for the service they use."

      Ya I'm sure a magazine owned by the very company trying to imposed UBB isn't going to be bias at all! These companies I tell ya, so greasy. If these companies had competition then maybe they'd be up on the times and not trying to stifle technology's advance because their business model represents that of the early 90's.

  15. Grandmother BELL is really having a difficult time clawing it's way out of the 20th century!

  16. Well Roger's own MACLEANS… SO THEY ARE very BIASED!

  17. Canada is firmly in a race for Internet service with countries like Mozambique. We're a laughing stock in the first world, with incredibly high rates and incredibly poor service. Hell, people's phones in the US have higher data caps then Canada's land lines do, and our phones are an international joke.

    Between this nonsense and Rogers getting caught red handed throttling legitimate traffic this week, is it any wonder the public is fed up? We need to purge the CRTC and get some people in there who care about Canadians, not just about the big corps.

  18. Maybe we should bring in competition to help build the back bone up more and give us cheaper rates maybe from usa.

  19. Grandmother BELL is having a very difficult time clawing it's way out of the 20th cenbtury!

  20. The Conservatives will drop this hot potato if they get a majority…mark my words.

  21. Canada and it's political puppets are WAY too comfortable with oligopolies.

    Internet & Cell – Telus, Rogers, Bell, Shaw
    Banks – class action lawsuit
    Airlines – Air Canada & Westjet

    20 years ago Canada was a world beater in internet access and use. Now we are one of the most expensive and slowest in the developed world. We pay for services that we don't want and sometimes can't use!

    We have outrageous banking fees, ATM fees, and management fees for basics like RRSP maintainence. We are charged twice as much as citizens of other countries.

    There is an election happening. It's time to ask a few questions.

  22. OH CANADUH!!!!!!!!!

  23. Everytime I see the Bell or Rogers complaint about slow internet or paying for Netflix I chuckle a little. At any point people could fix that issue by switching providers, but they don't…they just sit back and complain. I live in Sudbury and use Eastlink (used to be Persona) for my Internet/Digital Cable/Phone providing, and not only is it incredibly affordable, but I haven't had a single issue with any of those facets for the last 4 years. Any time a minor occurrence pops up I'm warned beforehand or informed just after of the issue. And my Netflix….flies!! No complaints from this happy customer, keep up the great work Eastlink, you will continue to get my service.

    • The only options most people have are Bell/Rogers or companies that buy from Bell/Rogers. Not everyone has access to competitors with decent packages.

  24. It's simple. When the candidates door to door, tell them that they get your vote if they make Internet Service a Government Service, like Roads. Tell them that you consider that the 407 is a failed experiment, and that government should get off it's big fat butt and do the job it's supposed to do, and stop whining about it.

    Oh, and stop trying to sell of our assets to your buddies at bargain sale prices. We don't like that.

    Wayne

  25. I admit that I was concerned with the Netflix offerings when they first came out; however, over the past few months they've added all sorts of content and now I'm extremely pleased with them. Thankfully, I'm also with an independent ISP that permits me to not worry about data overages.

    Rogers and Bell customers don't accept ridiculous data overage charges because they believe they're fair; they accept them because they don't know any different. Hopefully this UBB argument will open their eyes to the fact that they've been gouged horribly and they'll respond by demanded better service from the incumbents.

  26. Bell, Rogers and the rest of the greedy Corporate Canadian telecommunications oligopoly are evil. Plain and simple. There is no debate about it. The lies and the price gouging have to stop.

  27. AVP as explained by Bell: http://www.bell.ca/shopping/PrsShp_Bell_Internet_

    Bell will charge the independent ISP approximately 20 to 30 cents per gigabyte while they charge their own retail customers $1.00 to $2.50 per gigabyte. "Fundemental Fairness" anyone? The other Telcos have similar business models.

  28. From netindex.com
    Canada Download 9.34Mbps
    This country ranks in 36th place. Results were obtained by analyzing test data between Mar 1, 2011 and Mar 30, 2011. Tests from 6,089,613 unique IPs have been taken in this country and of 35,548,431 total tests, 1,131,021 are being used for the current Index.
    Test server within the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles.

  29. From netindex.com
    Canada Upload 1.54Mbps.
    This country ranks in 64th place. Results were obtained by analyzing test data between Mar 1, 2011 and Mar 30, 2011. Tests from 6,089,613 unique IPs have been taken in this country and of 35,548,431 total tests, 1,131,021 are being used for the current Index.
    Test server within the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles.

  30. From netindex.com (Global data)
    Canada Value index $6.48USD/Mbs.
    This country ranks 25th in cost per Mbps, but ranks 20th when taking into account GDP per capita. Results were obtained by analyzing survey data between Jun 8, 2010 and Mar 30, 2011. 29,965 surveys have been taken in this country.

  31. Bill Hillier · Works at Retired:)
    From netindex.com
    Canada Quality index 84.15R-Factor.
    This country ranks in 23rd place. Results were obtained by analyzing test data between Mar 1, 2011 and Mar 30, 2011. Tests from 6,089,613 unique IPs have been taken in this country and of 35,548,431 total tests, 78,871 are being used for the current Index.
    Based on millions of recent test results from Pingtest.net, this index compares and ranks consumer broadband quality around the globe.
    The value is the rolling mean R Factor over the past 30 days where the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles

  32. What TRUE competition and "Market Forces" brings to the consumer.
    UK, Orange, 20Mbps , Unlimited, $23.48 CAD.
    France, Orange, 8Mbps, Unlimited, 28.42 CAD.
    France, SFR, 20Mbps, Unlimited, 21.68 CAD.
    Romania, Adnet telecom, 10Mbps, Unlimited, 29.13 CAD.
    Italy, Libero, 7 MMbps, unlimited, 26.99 CAD.
    Japan, OCN, 12Mbs, Unlimited, 25.22 CAD.
    Russia, AKADO-Stolitsa JSC), 20Mbps, Unlimited, 25.00 CAD.
    Netherlands, Online, 4Mbps, Unlimited, $24,04 CAD.
    Netherlands, Online, 20Mbps, Unlimited, $30.88 CAD.
    Netherlands, KPN, 8Mbps, Unlimited, $34.33 CAD.
    Netherlands, XS4ALL, 8Mbps, Unlimited, $41.13 CAD.
    Romania 50 Mbps, Unlimited, $9.56 100 Mbps, Unlimited, $12.86 (incl. VAT) CAD

  33. British Telecom broke up by UK regulator=Openreach=UK Broadband LOW prices=CHOICE http://tyny.ca/f4

  34. Ofcom the UK equivelent of the CRTC mandated that:
    British Telecom split off OpenReach as wholesale division, selling to ALL isp's, including BT at fair prices. New rates coming. Result=Competition=low prices=CHOICE http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2011/03/31/ofcom-propos

  35. Northwestel, A Bell company, charges $10.00 to $25.00 per gigabyte

  36. Here is the way it ought to be:
    All Telecoms get broken into divisions: Wholesale, Retail.
    Wholesale maintains the infrastructure. Retail sell the products.
    CTRC set Wholesale rates, Retail like any business sets prices per Market forces.
    Wholesale sells to ALL retail providers, even their own Retail division, at the same regulated rate.
    "Market Forces" determine retail rates.
    Works in the UK. http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2011/03/31/ofcom-propos…?

  37. Our telecoms get results….Bad results but results just the same:
    Canada 63rd on the Upload index
    Canada 24th Cost per Mbs index
    Canada 36th in Household Download index
    Canada 23rd on Quality Index
    Canada is 23rd on Promise index http://netindex.com for the most up to date stats!

  38. Shaw presented to shareholders:
    Additional opportunities to monetize our broadband business through speed and product differentiation and the introduction of a usage based billing model

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Canadian+

  39. The single biggest statement that you can make to Big Telco is to "Move Your Money", speak with your wallet! If you have the opportunity CHANGE internet providers, Switch to one of the independent internet providers. You just might find one here: http://canadianisp.ca

  40. I keep hearing that the cost to transmit a gig of data is higher than you uninformed people think or claim. Don't you think if the real cost substantiated the claims of the Telcos that they would be producing the numbers right quick. I do. Same with information around congestion, don't you think if the data substantiated the congestion claims, they would present it right quick. I do.
    If they could prove our theories wrong the numbers would have been thrown in our faces a long time ago!
    Seems to me that once the truth is finally told we will be shocked to know just how badly we have been gouged for all these years.

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Canadian+

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