The world is watching…. Canada is a petri dish for big telecom companies to experiment in their efforts to take back control of communications. (Steve Anderson, OpenMedia.ca)
A Tax on Internet Use?
Now I remember why. About a year ago, the Winter Olympics were getting underway in Canada. Radio, TV, Internet and every other type of media heralded the news, “The World Is Watching, Canada.”
Well, I just learned that the world is watching again, this time for a very different reason. I read a couple of recent blog posts, which made me aware of new Internet charges coming to Canada.
Today, the blogger, Quidmont, provided enough details in his post that I was curious enough to find out more about what’s coming and how it’s going to affect my pocketbook.
The Petri Dish Experiment
I just checked it out by going to the OpenMedia.ca website and, sure enough, this isn’t some Internet joke gone viral. Steve Anderson, Executive Director of Open Media, put it somewhat graphically in a blog post yesterday, The World Is Watching.
“Canada is a petri dish for big telecom companies to experiment in their efforts to take back control of communications.”
A petri dish? I never had the privilege of taking biology classes in school, so my knowledge of petri dishes is somewhat limited. All I know is that you grow things in them. And they’re usually glass. And they aren’t very big. So I googled “petri dish” to get a better sense of what they are.
Here’s a clear and simple explanation, taken from a wise geek.
“A petri dish is a type of glass or plastic shallow round dish with a close fitting lid which is a vital tool in scientific laboratories. The uses for the petri dish are varied, but it is most well known for holding a culture medium upon which cells, bacteria, and viruses can be grown and studied.”
And then I tried to make the connections.
- Canada is the petri dish.
- Scientific laboratories use petri dishes for experiments and the big telecom companies are the scientific laboratories.
- The culture medium is the Canadian culture of being polite and typically putting up with whatever is thrown at us, with a certain degree of apathy.
- The telecomms (laboratories) are growing cells, bacteria and viruses within this culture of “no resistance”, in order to study their effect.
So what are the cells, bacteria and viruses that the telecoms are growing? Lots of details are provided at Open Media.ca, but here are a few things beginning to emerge:
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are about to impose usage-based billing on Canadians.
- They are going to charge per byte, meaning Canadians will pay much more for less Internet.
- The big telecoms are forcing smaller ISPs to adopt the same pricing scheme, taking away consumer choice and competition in the Internet service market.
- This will result in reduced affordable access to the Internet for Canadians.
The result: As indicated by OpenMedia.ca, these actions are likely to crush innovative services, Canada’s digital competiveness, and the wallets of Canadians.
Who’s in Bed with Whom?
So, is the Canadian government in favour of these actions? I just visited the Government of Canada website and read a short reference guide to the Industry Canada 2010-11 business plan. Here’s an excerpt:
“We are promoting long-term economic growth by: Supporting research and development in a wide range of sectors, including telecommunications”
It sounds to me like a joint partnership has been created between government and the telecomm industry in the petri dish experiment. And here’s the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) October 2010 decision, set to take effect in the near future.
I recall back in the late 1990s that the Government of Canada introduced numerous initiatives to bridge the digital divide in this country. Millions, or more likely billions, of dollars were spent in improving the technology infrastructure across our vast country to ensure equitable access for all.
And the current business plan references the importance of the Broadband Canada initiative, which enables citizens, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that could otherwise be out of reach.
Part of the proud heritage of Canadians has been equity in every aspect of our lives. Actions speak louder than words, we’ve all heard. Sounds like a contradiction in what is being said and what is being done. Is access and opportunity being eroded with the introduction of this new ruling?
Stop the Meter!
So what can Canadians do? Go to StoptheMeter.ca and register your protest. Make others aware of the implications of the CRTC decision.
OpenMedia.ca has rallied Canadians using extensive social media. Over 160,000 have already decided they don’t want Canada to be the telecomm companies’ petri dish experiment. They have begun to wake up and protest the CRTC decision. It looks like we polite, “no resistance” Canadians have been having too much fun downloading from the ‘Net and don’t want to pay extra for it. The opposition parties have begun to listen.
And what does this mean for our American neighbours to the south? Is it possible that the same kind of regulations could make their way into your country when the petri dish experiment to the north is concluded? Could it be that the cells, bacteria and viruses growing in Canada – the petri dish – will not be reserved for our country alone?
Has anyone heard of viruses spreading from country to country and around the world? Hmm, it doesn’t take much to recall the panic that the H1N1 virus caused only two years ago.
Are telecommunications companies in other countries any less greedy than those in Canada? I wonder…. I guess, over the long run, only the Canadian petri dish experiment will tell. Do you think this is going to affect you? If so, how?
Note: If you didn’t click through all the links as you read, you may want to take a few minutes to check out this video where George Stroumboulopoulos talks about the impending metered Internet charges. How many gigabytes do you download every day?