The uproar this week on the Canadian interwebs has been about UBB, or Usage-Based Billing. UBB, for the uninitiated, means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will give you a small cap, say, 25 gigabytes, and then charge you per gigabyte of data that you download over that.
Here's the CBC story.
Now, most ISPs already do that. The big difference is that the upper limits we have now are huge - say, 200 GB that most users, even heavy ones, will not hit. What people are upset about is that the CRTC gave lower limits as its guideline, so people would essentially be paying the same price for less.
An analogy was given online - what if you were told that from today on, you could only buy 50 litres of gasoline at today's price per month, and for every litre over that, you would pay $500. People would revolt, and the automobile industry would collapse again.
The analogy is not so far off. $500 per litre of gas may seem ridiculous, but imagine paying $1.12 per gigabyte. This is a ridiculous price inflation. The CBC quotes Rocky Tetrault, president of TekSavvy (an independent ISP) as saying, "The rates are absolutely atrocious. How the hell are we doing above one dollar for extra usage?...It's in the thousands of multiples beyond what the costs are."
Canadians reacted violently to this news, starting petitions and posting information all over social media sites. One petition, "Stop The Meter", was posted widely over Facebook, and it is believed widely that this site helped generate over 200,000 signatures to a petition against the UBB ruling by the CRTC.
Luckily, the grassroots movements seem to have made the government take notice. As of this morning, Feb. 3rd, word came from the government that "the prime minister and the minister of industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself".
It appears that the Internet is safe in Canada, for now. I was worried that with the implementation of this ruling, we as teachers would have our access to the Internet either limited or completely denied. The Internet, and especially some of the higher-bandwidth sites like YouTube, are excellent resources for teachers, and one of the better ways to connect with students.
In celebration of free Internet, here is something from AutoTune The News.