A recent ruling by the CRTC in favour of bell Canada has ignited consumer rage across Canada. Under this new plan, not only would Bell’s customers be limited in how much they could download, but so would customers of all of it’s DSL competitors. A lack of annoying policies like traffic-shaping and bandwidth caps is one of the main reasons I and many others don’t use Bell as a service provider, but under these new rules, that wouldn’t matter. This change, known as Usage-based billing (UBB) would now charge extra to consumers who wish to download beyond their allotted amounts, or restrict their speed heavily.

Wiithin a few weeks, a campaign against this change amassed over four hundred thousand signatures online at stopthemeter.ca. All of the major parties have come out in opposition, and the Federal cabinet ministers have requested a review, putting the decision on hold for 60 days. Still, the motion is not yet defeated, nor are any number of other measures by the CRTC and major service providers to limit our use of the internet.

These decisions are based on the notion that people who download or upload a lot must be doing something wrong. The term “discipline the use of the internet” is being thrown around. Browsing the web and checking email doesn’t take up 50 gigabytes of data a month for most people, but then again, these tasks don’t require a high-speed connection at all, or a dual core processor, or several gigabytes of ram. If corporations wish to sell us powerful machines and high speed connections, they shouldn’t be surprised when we use them. Having monopoly control over Canada’s internet lines as Bell does can only be expected to involve high costs meeting the needs of diverse needs of Canadians. If they don’t want to incur those costs, perhaps they should step away from this monopoly.

It’s about time internet users are getting active and angry about issues of throttling, net neutrality and corporate control of networks. If the CRTC wishes to push this issue, they and bell will have to face the wrath of the Canadian public. It took parliament a week to bow down before this fury – how long can these cash-happy bureaucrats hold out? I guess we’ll see.

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