Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Myths From Usage-Based Billing Supporters Debunked

Peter Nowak posts 10 myths from usage-based billing supporters. (There is an ongoing debate in Canada about usage-based billing, by the way.)

  1. Data is not a utility.
  2. Delivery cost is paying for expansion.
  3. Congestion has not been proven.
  4. Investment is not making big ISPs poor.
  5. Heavy users are not all pirates.
  6. Pirates are not necessarily bad.
  7. Not all opponents of UBB are hogs.
  8. Market forces won’t take care of problems.
  9. Facilities-based competition is not the holy grail.
  10. Everyone else makes it work.
My favourites are probably the first and last:
Data is not a utility. There have been many attempts, including by the CRTC, to equate internet usage to a utility such as electricity or gas. Very simply put: it is not. The electrons that make up the data that passes to and fro over the internet are limitless and are not consumed and destroyed every time a YouTube video is watched. The “pipes” and other equipment over which these electrons flow are, of course, finite and therefore need to be continually expanded as the amount of traffic grows. These are two very different things, however. In electric-bill parlance, we’re talking about delivery and usage – the nice people at the hydro company bill us for both and the big ISPs would like to do the same. The difference is, the actual kilowatts that go over the hydro company’s pipes ARE finite and ARE destroyed once they are used. If you want to talk about fairness, then yes, it is okay to charge internet users for delivery, but how is it fair to charge for consuming a non-consumable?

Everyone else makes it work. I love pointing out how unlimited or practically unlimited internet usage is common in just about every other country because this disproves every argument there is in support of UBB. If ISPs in every OECD country except Canada, Australia and New Zealand can make it economical to give customers big or non-existent usage limits, why can’t we? ...The price of bandwidth continues to fall globally, so those countries aren’t having conversations about whether the internet is like electricity or whether it’s fair to charge heavy users extra, they’re talking about how to make all of their citizens heavy users. The reason we’re not having that conversation is because all those other countries have something we don’t: competition and consumer choice between providers, which keeps prices reasonable and usage limits high.

Think Finland.


Post a Comment