You’ve signed the petitions. You’ve called your MP. You’ve filed a complaint with the Canadian Competition Bureau. You’ve voiced your displeasure to the CRTC itself. Good job. Your efforts have made a difference, but we’re not done yet.
The CRTC has gone back to the drawing board (and so has big telecom, we can assume) to find a new deal that will likely be leaving us a little better off than the last one. Until the CRTC is an organization that actually stands up for our rights, and until Bell and Co understand that we will not tolerate this gouging of the populace it’s important that we demonstrate where the market power lies.
1. Dump the Big Guys.
These big telecom companies are trying to force legislation that will irreparably damage the freedom of the internet, innovation and fair market competition. If you’re sending them money every month, you’re telling them: “That’s cool. I don’t mind. Go ahead.” Is that really what you feel?
There are other options out there, and even if they are forced to use Bell’s infrastructure, a new customer for them is a clear message that the service they are offering is valuable and needed. Even more fun is to explain in excruciating detail to the Bell customer Service Rep why you’re canceling. (But be nice! They’re just doing their job.) Here are some of the options we’ve got in Montreal:
Teksavvy gives me all around warm fuzzy feelings based on their support of OpenMedia.ca. The prices for high speed internet (unlimited, to date) are also good. You have to buy a modem, but they have a rent-to-own option. I got on the phone with Mr. George Burger, who provided me with this analogy: If two gas stations were across the street from one another and wanted to engage in price fixing they’d meet up and agree on a price through which they would each make a healthy margin. In this case of Bell etc. vs. The Internet, the first gas station attendant is setting the price, and the second is setting the same price, but handing the difference over to the first!
Virtually nowhere else in the industrialized world does this happen. Mr. Burger emphasized that if Bell was allowed to demand that difference in price from wholesalers like themselves, they would be unable to provide the type of service that is standard elsewhere in the world, and that Teksavvy prides itself on.
Colba is the local company that actually owns its own infrastructure and doesn’t have to buy from bell. They have a pretty wide range, and I’m impressed with the price. I had a chance to speak with company president Joseph Basili, and you couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic representative. When asked about the whole UBB debacle he told me it had been great for his business. Mercenary but I can’t blame him for that. There are some pretty nasty reviews concerning customer service on the internet, so ask how they’re working to fix the problem when you call. I imagine that improvements will be made quickly. Speed and service depend, as usual, on where you live.
Several of my friends have had fantastic experiences with Acanac for internet and VOIP services. You pay for your year upfront and it’s reputed to be a great deal with good, fast service. They also have a referral program where each person you send to them gets you a month of free internet, and sending in ten new clients gets you free internet for as long as you’re an Acanac customer. This is perfect for all you social net-workers out there. As of this writing, they haven’t had a chance to get back to me with a personal comment, but when they do, I’ll update you all.
2. Use Services That Give a Hoot.
There are companies offering services that require you, the customer, to have affordable access to high levels of bandwidth. Since UBB will directly affect their ability to sell to Canadians, they will add their voices to ours in the fight to stop this legislation as always, accompany your purchase with a note or a phone call explaining your choice, and how you hope they will be encouraged by your support to throw their weight into the ring.
I’m a big Netflix fan. For about $8/month they have about 90% of the movies and television I care to watch. You get to try it free for a month, so it’s a no-lose. They’re aware of the UBB issue in Canada and are keeping a close eye on the situation. We may be a small market, but not one they would choose to ignore or miss out on.
Along the same lines as Netflix, in fact, they work with Netflix. Apple provides television and movies at a price that approaches reasonable, after the one off price for the gadget. It’s not as inexpensive as I think it could be, but they have great usability and genuinely want you to be able to purchase and use their service. If you encourage Apple, they will make noise to the Canadian Government.
3. Take On-Line Classes (and make a fuss if you already do).
This one is particularly important to me. I currently attend school on-line, in a multi-media program. My classes are streamed, and take up several GB’s a week. If this legislation goes through students will be paying a premium to attend the classes they have already paid tuition for! School’s aren’t always quick to respond to (or acknowledge) student concerns, but when enrollment starts dropping they’ll prick up their ears.. If several hundred online students were to make a similar comment, however, they might begin to realize that their ever growing and super lucrative
pool of e-students is at risk. You don’t have to be a post-secondary student to do this – any online lecture or seminar delivered by video is going to be affected. Students are famous for mobilizing on
issues that concern us, and this should be no different.
Not every suggestion listed here is going to be appropriate for every internet user. My goal was to get you to think outside the box a little bit. Consider who stands to lose business from this UBB mess. Then contact them to find out how your support helps them fight it, and explain how your business is dependent on the outcome of this legislation. If none of the above is possible, or feasible for your lifestyle, see if you can’t throw a few dollars over to OpenMedia.ca; they’ll take your money and use it to make the system better.
Any great ideas I missed? Who else stands to lose with unfair metered internet? Let me know in the comments.
Recently quit Bell? Who did you go to and why? Any great providers who also deserve a shout out? You know what to do.
Images courtesy of: www.photoxpress.com