Blogs & Comment

Battle over Internet use heating up

In the wake of a recent CRTC decision, public awareness of new Internet rules called "usage-based billing" (UBB) is steadily growing and it looks like its main benefactor, Bell Canada, may have a PR problem on its hands.

In the wake of a recent CRTC decision, public awareness of new Internet rules called “usage-based billing” (UBB) is steadily growing and it looks like its main benefactor, Bell Canada, may have a PR problem on its hands.

A public, online petition is already well underway at openmedia.ca and counts north of 220K signatures so far. But that’s an online petition and who really listens to those?

How about the Liberal Party jumping on board? Ignatieff and crew have also officially come out against a metered Internet. But who really listens to OK, I kid, I kid. At any rate it’s worth noting that the party appears to be leveraging the issue for party donations and membershipas much as anything else. (Another sign an election is afoot?) A quick look at Parliamentary proceedings indicates the issue has yet to be raised by anyone in the House.

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium’s Matt Stein says the CNOC is considering a cabinet-level appeal of the CRTC’s decision but has not yet set any date. He added in a previous interview that other private individuals or organizations would also be appealing the ruling.

So far only Quebec-based consulting firm Vaxination Informatique has filed a petition with the CRTC. In the two-page filing, the company argues for a stay of the January 25 decision on the grounds that differences of timing on billing and pricing matters among wholesalers has generated “regulatory confusion” that will lead to a loss of customers and market disruption. Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement issued some boilerplate to says he’s looking into it.

And heavyweight Internet activist Michael Geist is chiming in as well. You probably don’t want to get on his bad side either.

But what may yet have Bell and Bell Aliant really worried is the mobilization of YouTube and Twitter. They’re already being used as platforms to denounce in colourful language UBB. YouTube and Twitter have been instrumental in taking down entire governments of late, so you never know.