metered internet: the rich get richer, we get screwed

in its infinite wisdom, the CRTC has decided to allow large telecommunications companies, such as Bell, to change the way canadians are billed for their internet access. while the decision is not final, a final decision is expected in the coming days. some changes have already been put in place.

at the urging of canada’s telecommunications giants, the CRTC is considering usage-based billing, or, in short: metering. this means that service providers will be able to charge users per bite of information on top of the basic access charges.

what does this mean to the average canadian consumer? i would guess a healthy increase in the amount you pay for internet access. from what i have read, the most likely scenario is a service similar to cell phone use, where you get hit for virtually everything that you try to do, be it call, text, message, or tweet.

in this case, you will pay for every song you download, every video you watch on youtube, every fascinating blog entry you read on smallprint.ca , every byte you use. and it will start to add up. oh, will it start to add up.

as part of new regulations, Bell has already set a cap on internet usage. on my home contract, i pay a two dollar/gigabyte penalty for everything over 25 gigs of usage. this, of course, came as a total shock to me, as there was no cap at all when i entered my contract. if they are already able to hit you for two dollars a gig, on top of their (already ridiculous) set fees, just think of what they’ll go for when given the green light for across the board metering.

it scares me, folks. it scares me a lot.

canadians consumers already pay more for their internet services than most of the civilized world (check this map/chart from gizmodo), and we’re about to have it even worse if Bell, Rogers, and other big corporations get their way.

it is more than just the average consumer that we should worry about, though. what about the artists, the non-profits, the small businesses, all trying to scrape by on fixed budgets? what about the individuals and organizations that are trying to meet the increasing demands for more audio, more video, more pizazz on their web sites and social networking? they’ll be hit hard as well.

a lot of them won’t make it.

this is an outrage. it is crippling for individuals who use the internet as a primary means of education, entertainment, and communication. it is a punishment for the artists, small business people, and non-profit workers who are merely trying to get their message or product out to the world. and it is black eye for the government of canada for not allowing the brightest minds of their nation to compete on equal footing with much of the developed world, where internet is seen as a right and not a privilege.

there is an online petition for this: stop the meter. and, by all means, you should feel free to sign it. but, really, your better bet is to contact the CRTC directly. online petitions tend to carry little weight.

you should also contact your member of parliament.

take a stand, folks. a world of communications is about to be hijacked.

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