Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shaw and others are getting more than their fair share!!

We've got the 8th highest average connection speed (although we'd need to make it 2.5 times faster to get in the top 5). The really interesting part of the graph is the prices. The dollar figure underneath the speed rank is the price in USD for 1Mbps. We're paying double the price for our bandwidth that the US is, and 10x what Sweden is.

You'll notice that almost all European nations are charging less than we are. The main difference? Most EU countries consider internet access to be a utility like power or gas, and the governments invest heavily in upgrading infrastructure. France has gone as far to say it considers broadband internet access to be a basic right for all of it's citizens, and put it's money where it's mouth is.

Cellphone infrastructure graphs look almost identical, with Canada paying 2 or 3 times more than the US on average. Recently the CRTC auctioned off another commercial radio spectrum for use in wireless communication. The range was purchased by an international company called Globalive for $442 million. My understanding was that the money was placed into general government coffers instead of being used to improve nationwide data infrastructure.

The best part, is that the CRTC (acting on a complaint from Bell and Telus) ruled that Globalive didn't have enough Canadian ownership, so they are not going to be allowed to act as a telecom in Canada. The end result: $442 million was removed from the Telecom industry with no benefit to research or abundance, and we still only have 3 telecoms which continue to gouge us on price. Good thing the CRTC is on our side, eh?

The CRTC has also failed to defend Net Neutrality principles (essentially, every packet is worth the same as every other packet).

Net neutrality is important because without legislation supporting it, ISP's can throttle certain kinds of traffic (peer-to-peer, video streaming, etc.) as well as block access to certain websites (such as when Telus blocked access to their Union's website during the strike), or allow large corporations to pay for 'priority' traffic.

Priority traffic would mean that access to a news site like Fox News, or CNN would run at full speed, while small blogs would be throttled much slower or not be available at all, depending on which tiered package the consumer bought. The NDP and Liberals have both submitted bills for Net Neutrality which died on the floor following the dissolution of the 39th parliament by Harper.

Long story short, welcome to Canada! Home of the slow growing, expensive, aging, and unfair telecom giants!

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