Monday, January 31, 2011

Bell is Strangling the Internet in Canada

The recent CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada to charge exorbitant rates on individual consumption of more than 75 gigabytes is an economic disaster in the making on so many levels. The opposition Liberal and NDP parties were against this attack on net neutrality. Net neutrality is essentially a consumer and competition based view that cable companies and telecom companies or gate keepers should not destroy the relatively free access to the web by charging fees which would hold consumers and the web hostage.

The inflationary pressures that Bell Canada is putting on the Internet will drive up costs for everybody at a time when the world is still reeling from the fallout of other disastrous economic policies. According to CBC news, consumers in Canada are being cut off to 90 per cent of the Internet traffic starting March 1st. Now if Canada was a dictatorship where the goal is to suppress the news that might be understandable.

As any barely literate web trafficker knows, even basic content from the web is demanding more and more bandwidth with a deflationary pressure on computer hardware and storage systems as proof.  Bell Canada is trying to drag us back into an artificially inflated economic trap, driving up prices where they are falling in every other country.

And I would argue that this innovation killing strategy runs afoul of our free trade agreement with our neighbours to the south since NAFTA is supposed to guarantee unfettered trade between our two countries without a legislative barrier or tariff prohibiting this trade. Bell Canada is using the CRTC to block American companies like Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon from offering cheaper goods to Canadian consumers. This government initiated tax on free speech and free use of the Internet is government-legislated protectionism designed to prop up a weak business model.

Open source applications will conceivably suffer from the squeeze being put on the travel of goods and services over the web. This policy should effectively knock Canada back into the dark ages.

These Canadian gatekeepers are also strangling Canadian innovation on the web in both software and hardware by making it more expensive to compete. There is no reason Canadian companies can't compete with American companies but by sabotaging the Internet, Bell Canada is making sure that new Canadian companies will wither on the vine. By putting the squeeze on consumers this is also an insidious form of censorship, by charging what will be an ever-increasing tax on internet usage. It will be an ever-increasing tax because more and more bandwidth will be needed for basic communications, web visits, downloads and other internet applications. Even if you didn't use your computer for anything but email and visiting sites without downloads, you will be taxing your bandwidth limits in a few short years.

But when a company deprives the people of the goods and services that they want with heavy taxation, it is a doomed business model and when a government agency assists in the fleecing of the public it dooms its political masters.

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