Weighing in from Canada, The CRTC (Canadian radio television commission ) is supposed to regulate things here but they are obviously in the pockets of the big isp providers. We have an active campaign against UBB (usage based billing) which was only in a small part successful. Bell, SHAW, Rogers and Telus are the main players. They argue that their unlimited plans have limits and that this is both accepted by the masses and acceptable business model to prevent lower cost carriers from entering their markets with true unlimited access plans.
I looked up my copies of TOS (terms of service) when I was on telus ADSL. It stated in paragraph 4.7 that unlimited service is defined as 24 hours per day 7 days per week & not to exceed 1.5TB of download per month and 2.5TB of upload per month. I discontinued their service when I was charged for 2 months service in which I was unable to connect even by phone to their call center due to noise on the line. After I cancelled ADSL and phone I received a demand notice to re-activate my phone service or face prosecution (placed to my rogers cell). One call to my lawyer and they went away fast but did send me a wonderful set of offers for 1) ADSL phone and Internet for $10 more per month than my previous plan with a change to the TOS saying unlimited Internet with a cap (limit) at 60GB then $1 per GB for going over the cap. 2) Telus Optic Satellite TV with the statement “after you have signed up for the service and pay your first two month pre-billing you will be informed if your area is serviced or when it may be serviced”!
Similar story on Rogers AirInternet which is a mc950 usb internet stick that basically connects through a cell phone plan and rates under 3G. Their plan says unlimited Internet 24/7 but has a cap of 20GB + $10/GB over that. One year in to their 3 year plan it changed to a cap of 10GB + $15/GB over. Rate plans increased from $50/month to over $75/month in a single year. Obviously, they are long gone too.
SHAW is no better, signed up for Cable Internet $21.95/month bundled with Cable TV at $31.95/month basic. TOS said unlimited 24/7 access with no limit on bandwidth & no cap. Promotion said get 3 months Internet for free & 6 months of Cable TV at $59.95 for the reduced price of $31.95/month. What I got was as stated but when the 3 month Internet free period ended, they up’d the monthly rate to 31.95 plus $5 for modem rental (I owned my own modem so after some heated talks they changed the charge to 31.95 plus $2.50 service fee for owning my own modem). When the reduced cable tv promo ended, my basic plan was increased to 41.95 plus $5 for cable tv modem. reason for the change “were sorry you didn’t decide to keep our value added package and because of the immense extra costs of provided basic cable we have no choice but to pass this expense onto you”. They sent me a new TOS for the internet and it now states that “since people are choosing to view streaming video rather than paying for more cable packs we have no choice but pass our loss onto all customers. You will still receive 24/7 access but bandwidth will be restricted to 60GB / month under your full access unlimited plan. extra GB will cost $10/5GB in increments. At our option high use users may have there access speed temporarily or permanently capped at a lower speed.”
Stop the Cap! has petitions in both canada and the usa to stop Usage Based Billing (UBB)
I no longer have the references at my fingertips to some TV interviews and programs examining things so I can only recite from memory, so please don’t jump all over me. In short, these programs examined the real costs of providing various services and levels of services and included costs of cell phone during roaming abroad, costs of local roaming vs plain local, costs of ISP related data transmission vs overhead, and costs of providing cable tv / satellite tv.
Just as it is for the oil companies, the prices we pay are well scripted in a manor that could be taken as unfair business practice. Under US and Canadian laws, it is supposedly illegal for two or more competing vendors to price fix to the end users so as to give an unfair burden to those end users. From me; (ever wonder how it is that we have 6 , 8, or 12 vendors all selling the same product which is supposed to be at a price based upon cost of manufacture + costs of labor + costs of facilities + costs of research etc, but they all come out at close to the same price and same TOS and same excuses but yet there is no collaboration?)
Anyways, the programs did make some interesting points. Cell phones used abroad are at a negotiated rate between the carriers on both sides of the big pond. The only reason that the UK, EU, Asia which are heavily regulated are so expensive when talking to Canada and USA is because our carriers are using a mark-up scale of cost plus 2500%. For Cell use with-in Canada/USA the real cost per hour of use is under $0.04 cents as confirmed by spokesmen of University of Toronto, University of Calgary, University of Vancouver, MIT, Harvard, and Washington State U. Each program sited different ones but these were the common ones used. Real costs of texting/tweeting and email averages to about $0.01 per 2GB of transfer. Real cost of Internet browsing (without upload/download of huge content ) averages at under $0.02 per month and increases to about $5/320GB of streaming, upload, and downloads. There conclusions which are mine too; is if cell, and Internet are so low in cost why are we held hostage to such extortion with full government consent.
Up here in Canada the question was posed “Is basic Internet a right or privilege?” The government is now doing almost everything using Internet access only and to maintain economic feasibility would like to expand Internet use. The government has just made the statement, that Basic Internet is a necessity and thusly constitutes as a ‘right’ but providers argue 'rights should be reserved to such things as “a right can not be removed from any person just as life and liberty is protected and can not be removed without due process”, the Internet is a privilege because those who can not pay do not deserve the freedom of it’s use.
No matter what we think, someway, somehow, the people I think will be the losers just like at the pumps.