Rest assured, dis ain’t ova.
Yesterday, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission came to a compromise on a controversial decision by big telecom companies to charge their wholesale customers based on the amount of bandwidth they use each month. It was called Usage Based Billing or UBB and critics claimed it would only increase already expensive telecom rates in Canada.
The details of what has changed have been heavily reported on. I don’t want to get into them here. What I want to discuss is what this means and why it matters.
There’s no denying the Internet has become essential in this country. As much as we all like to use the Internet for play, so much of our business is done online that if we were to shut down the net tomorrow, the entire world would ground to a halt.
In Canada, we’re doing okay in terms of our access. Our average download speed is ranked 8th in the world by the information Technology and Innovation Foundation. However, we’re paying twice the cost per megabyte compared to the United States (who are ranked 15th in speed) and we’re utterly left in the dust in terms of both speed and cost by Japan. They have incredibly FAST and incredibly CHEAP access to the Internet.
Now, the population is much denser and the country is much smaller, but certainly the argument can be made that the technology available to us is no different. It’s all made in Japan already!
The big Telcos in Canada will not stop at this. There will be additional attempts to charge you more money. They claim bandwidth-heavy streaming services like Netflix are causing undue stress on the system. However, is it a coincidence that companies like Bell, who are fighting against these things, are also offering TV and satellite packages, as well as Internet access?
Everything that’s on TV is online somewhere. This is something Phil and I have discussed on the show. The benefit to the web is that you decide when and where to consume that media. The traditional model of being in front of the TV in time for your favourite show is disappearing. Bell, Rogers, Shaw, all those guys, they all know this. They’re not stupid. They know people are cancelling their cable services in favour faster Internet. This is not at all about stress on the system, it’s about competition and it’s about making as much money as possible.
Some say “the market will decide” and maybe one day it will, but until we demand better service for better prices, be prepared to pay more at the Internet pump in the near future. We need to use this service, but our wallets should not be held hostage as a result.