The Open Internet is at Risk
The Internet at Risk
Undemocratic forces are working to destroy the Internet we know and love — a magical place of dank memes and video streams, the essential backbone we use to communicate with our loved ones, our families, and our government.
If they get their way, many of our favorite websites and services will be slowed to a crawl, and we'll end up with an “Internet” that looks more like cable TV — a boring, money-making machine for telecom giants.
We're Creating More Content Than Ever Before
We upload a lot of data to the Internet.
From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days…and the pace is accelerating.
— Eric Schmidt in 2010
The Guardian reported in 2015 on the huge amount of data that is uploaded to the Internet on a regular basis:
- 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- 500 million tweets are sent every day.
- 30 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day.
- 40 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day.
Those numbers have only increased as has the numbers of people online.
End Canada's Telecom Monopolies
The scale of the July nationwide Rogers outage shows Canada can no longer tolerate monopolized private telecom companies that function without public accountability or oversight.
It's time to take a shot back at Rogers, Bell, and Telus.
- Top Rogers executives to receive $17M in bonuses tied to Shaw deal — including $8M for CEO Tony Staffieri.
- Rogers, Bell and Telus collected more than $240 million from Canada's wage-subsidy program then raised shareholder payouts.
- Telecoms met with government and CRTC hundreds of times prior to reversing wholesale internet rates.
Overthrow Monopoly Rule in Canada!
Tired of being at the mercy of monopolies? Left with limited options and soaring prices time and time again?
It's time to take a stand against power-hungry giants that control Canadian industries — from telecom to banking and grocery industries.
Right now, we have a GOLDEN opportunity for change — getting the government to ACT on their promises to reform our Competition Act, breaking the power of these monopolies for good.
Email Industry Minister Champagne TODAY demanding he acts to fix Canada's faulty competition laws NOW!
Canadians Pay Too Much
Canadians pay some of the highest cellular and Internet access rates in the world.
One-in-five Canadians cannot afford Internet or TV services.
PCMag noted in 2020 that Canadians are not offered the sub-$30 cellular plans easily available in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Instead, Canadian cellular companies only advertise their $80 plans. Cheaper plans are unadvertised and usually only available through the company's “low rate” carrier.
Small cellular operators (MVNOs) that would offer more reasonable rates are blocked from operating in Canada.
Internet No Longer a Luxury
Have recently tried to get off-line help from the tax department recently? The local CRA offices that dotted communities across Canada have closed shop, offering only regional or national offices. Phone lines are full.
Because access to the Internet is no longer a luxury, both the quality of service and the pricing needs to be addressed.
Broadband is a human right, the nervous system of the 21st century. It is far too important to be left up to the whims of monopolists building atop public infrastructure without any commitment to the public interest.
— Cory Doctorow — Activist, Author, and Journalist
Most government and financial services are increasingly available only online. Companies force you to use PDF bills sent via email. Where available, paper bills via snail mail are seldom more than summaries.
Internet Access Rates Out of Line
Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for Internet access.
FIVE Times the Rate of Inflation
A CRTC 2014 hearing noted that Internet fees in Canada have increased at five times the rate of inflation.
A July 2021 study found that Internet prices rose 6% in Canada the previous year. That was prior to inflation rates rising in 2022 for the first time in 20 years.
Wireless costs in Canada are out of line.
A 2020 report from Finland-based telecom research firm Rewheel found that Telus, Bell, and Rogers ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most expensive amongst 168 wireless carriers operating in 48 countries around the world.
Notice that Canada (far right) is by far the costliest per gigabyte of data:
The root cause of the high Canadian wireless prices, as we shown in our 2019 study, is the fact that the Canadian wireless market is a de facto network duopoly.
Telus billed $100 for a few texts sent to the U.S. from my wife's cellphone even though their most expensive plan was $29.95 per year.
She is no longer with Telus Mobility but our choices are narrowing rapidly as telecoms buy out their competition thanks to Minister Champagne's approval of the Shaw buyout.
Our wired Internet isn't much better: a 2022 study found that out of 135 countries, Canada ranks a dismal 103rd for lifetime broadband affordability.
Canadian internet prices are notoriously among the most expensive in the world. …Canadians currently pay an average of $102 per month for their home internet plan. That's well above the $25–85 that the vast majority (73%) report considering reasonable.
The majority of Canadians surveyed feel they are already overpaying for their internet plan each month and prices have risen 6.42% on average in the past year.
— WhistleOut, July 2021
- The future of Canada's internet: What's the key to affordability?
- Is Canada the most expensive wireless market in the world? (PDF)
- 4G & 5G connectivity competitiveness 2020 (PDF).
The Previous CRTC was Pro-Industry
The CRTC under Ian Scott was not a consumer-conscious watchdog.
Under the leadership of Ian Scott, a former Telus executive and self-described personal friend of Bell CEO Mirko Bibic, the CRTC has issued a rash of anti-consumer decisions that have led to more expensive prices for Canadians over the past few years.
The decision to reverse the more favourable wholesale rates is only one of many anti-consumer decisions made by the CRTC.
While the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) lowered wholesale rates larger carriers can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in August 2019, they reversed the decision in May 2021. The CRTC said the decision was erroneous.
The CRTC should be there to protect Canadians, not enrich companies already protected from foreign competition and enjoying 45% profit margins.
Instead, the CRTC allowed telecoms to continue to overcharge.
[H]ealthy competition in the broadband sector is key to ensuring that all Canadians can benefit from all that the internet brings to our lives.
— Competition Bureau
Sneaky Pricing Tricks
Telecoms use fine print in their contracts and sneaky pricing to confuse consumers and make it even harder to compare plans between providers.
Telus Got Greedy
Telus went to the industry-favouring CRTC to get permission to add an additional 1.5% to the bills of customers using credit cards.
The original intent of the court order that allowed charging credit card customers was based upon the claim that credit card costs were built into pricing and this change would lead to reduced costs for customers not using credit cards.
Just like the added fees for retaining paper billing, this was another ploy to increase profitability at customer expense.
Credit card merchant fees are part of any business's expense and Telus is far more profitable than most. Only a monopoly would attempt such a sneaky move.
Learn more and Tell the CRTC: DON'T let Big Telecom tack on shady new fees!
MVNOs are Low Cost Cellular Alternatives
MVNOs (or MNOs) are a significant factor in reducing cellphone prices.
What are the factors that determine mobile prices? Market concentration (no. of MNOs) has a statistically significant effect on 4G & 5G monthly and gigabyte prices. The higher the no. of MNOs the lower the price.
Canada's Liberal government is denying MVNOs the right to operate fully in Canada, preventing people from accessing low cost alternative cell phone carriers.
It's time our government STOPPED holding cell phone affordability out of our reach. SPEAK OUT to unlock cheaper, fairer cell phone plans NOW!
You might have noticed that the feature that finally allowed the unwise decision to let Rogers buy Shaw was the requirement that Shaw-owned Freedom went to Videotron where Rogers has provided a much cheaper access than to other MMVOs.
Sign the Petition
Mergers Destroy Competition
Not only are MVNOs blocked, but the big telecoms are buying up smaller players.
These mergers eliminate competition, remove options for consumers and bring higher prices.
Tell the CRTC to STOP Big Telecom's takeover!
All competition to Big Telecom is vanishing at a rate we've NEVER seen before. If we don't stop the mass extinction of independent providers, by the end of the year we won't have any left to speak of.
We're barreling towards a reality where there is NO ONE LEFT to choose from apart from Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Tell the CRTC to stop the total destruction of indie Internet providers — before it's too late:
Small internet providers say that Canada is about to break a system that was serving customers well.
Many smaller internet providers in Canada are likely to significantly increase their prices and lose customers or shut down.
The dream of more competition leading to better internet service for Canadians is on life support.
— The New York Times
Canadian Internet Quality Varies Widely
The speed and bandwidth available to Canadians varies mainly between urban and rural areas but also between provinces.
There are definitely challenges of geography since most of Canada's population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border. The advantages of a north-south market is very limited compared to other countries that have populations more evenly spread, such as the continental United States.
However, most Canadians live in larger cities that justify lower prices regardless of the nature of the geography.
This advantage is not found in rural areas nor in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, or the Yukon.
Big Telecoms Attack Netflix and the Internet
Since there was a limited number of channels (simultaneous time slots) available on cable TV in the 1990s, the content needed to be regulated to ensure that there was variety and that cheaper U.S. content would not dominate.
That isn't true on the Internet.
Unlike cable TV, there are no limits to viewable content in any time slot.
Every person in Canada could watch a different program on the Internet without interfering with the ability of any other to do the same.
The only reason to restrict access is to ensure the profitability of the big telecoms.
Monopolies Call for Regulation
Rather than change to suit the current technology, Canada's telecoms are calling on the government to regulate the Internet to ensure profitability.
The calls for an Internet tax would be used to fund Canada's big telecoms and limit Internet access with restrictions. CanCon is a confusing rating system designed to benefit Canada's big telecoms rather than truly promote Canadian content.
Netflix Threatens Profitability
Unlike cable TV, each viewer on Netflix can watch whichever program they want according to their own schedule. While the content is not unlimited (like the Internet itself), you are not forced to watch any program just because there is nothing else available in a particular time slot.
If people were getting what they want on cable TV, Netflix wouldn't be a threat.
Netflix threatens their TV subscriber base because their service frequently lacks viewable content unless you're a news or sports junkie.
Competition Banned in Rural U.S.
Several U.S. rural communities decided to take matters into their own hands and built community broadband in areas the big ISPs refused to service.
The response? The ISPs lobbied to ban community broadband in 19 U.S. states, calling it “unfair competition.”
Remember, these were areas that commercial operators refused to provide broadband service because it was unprofitable.
Legislation protected huge profits by limiting bandwidth and competition.
The Internet was designed as a neutral platform for open, unrestricted access to the data we wanted to obtain.
We need the Internet to be fast, cheap, neutral, and accessible everywhere.
— Larry Lessig
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality means that all data is treated equally — all sites and services on the Internet have an equal footing.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers providing consumer connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application.
It allows us to choose what we watch and when we watch it.
Just Like Electricity
The plug in the wall doesn't ask what you're using it for. It simply serves electricity.
That is how we need our electronic data to be served: neutrally — just like electricity.
Imagine plugging in your new electric kettle only to find that it wouldn't work because it wasn't the “approved” brand? What if it worked, but you were charged extra?
Delivering Content Without Interference
Net Neutrality delivers the site(s) you request without any extra fees or censorship.
No site is artificially slowed or sped up. There is no fast lane for privileged services such as free access to a particular music or movie service ONLY if you're using that ISP's services.
Net neutrality is a simple concept that ends up being very politically complicated. It's the idea that your internet service provider (ISP) — whether that's Comcast, Verizon, or someone else — shouldn't have the ability to pick and choose which service or content you can see, or make sites pay to have their content load quickly.
— Mozilla Blog
Save Net Neutrality in Canada
Remember when big media controlled everything you read and watched?
They'd like that control back.
Canada's big media companies don't want net neutrality:
The federal government has repeatedly stated its commitment to Net Neutrality, but Canada's Telecommunications Act is currently under review.
And we know lobbyists — and now the CRTC — are pushing for looser regulations, following the U.S.' Net Neutrality repeal as an example.
The federal government must reject any effort by the CRTC to weaken Canada's Net Neutrality framework.
Why You Should Care
The loss of net neutrality affects much more than corporate profitability.
Removing net neutrality sees some services promoted; others slowed down or banned altogether.
Neutrality deals with whether companies will be allowed to build more toll booths on the road. Net Neutrality is the best way to insure that no one is in control of the flow of information.
— David Mengert
You should care because net neutrality is about way more than packets of data — it affects competition, innovation, speech online, and user choice.
Losing net neutrality would ultimately mean you have fewer choices for content, applications, and services online, in ways we can't possibly imagine today.
Government's Failure to Represent Constituents
Government seems to have the ear of the huge mega-corporations, not the people they are supposed to represent.
Without net neutrality, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter could never have become the mega corporations they are today. No future competition could ever emerge.
Compromised Personal Data and Fake News
Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the Internet, describes the problem:
Over the past 12 months, I've become increasingly worried about three new trends, which I believe we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool which serves all of humanity.
Those three new trends:
- compromised personal data;
- fake news that he says has “spread like wildfire;” and
- the lack of regulation in political advertising, which he says threatens democracy.
Both government and corporations cry foul when you try to block these attempts.
Bill C-51 provided greatly increased surveillance powers to the police but at the cost of personal privacy. Unfortunately, this loss of freedom will not ensure protection against terrorism or crime.
U.S. Already Seeing the Results
To understand the dangers of a net neutrality-free Internet, one has only to look to our neighbours to the south.
The US voted to kill off net neutrality on December 14th 2017 in spite of overwhelming support for net neutrality by U.S. citizens.
The ISPs in the US are taking full advantage of the repeal of Net Neutrality.
A new research study proved that video streaming has been throttled across the board since the repeal.
You Need to Take Action
Since governments are listening only to big media, you need to step up and take an active part if you want to see net neutrality remain.
- Net Neutrality is under attack in Canada — here's how we save it.
- OpenMedia leads the fight to get your voice heard. See current campaigns.
- Take the Google pledge to support a free and open Internet.
Change Your Browser
If your browser is the one your operating system set as default with its default landing page, why not choose a safer browser that loads by default something that is important to you?
If Microsoft's News & Interests feed isn't serving your interests, remove the distraction by right-clicking the task bar and choosing to turn it off in the related menu item.
Signing into your Google Chrome may preserve settings, but also provides a lot of information used to profile you.
Choose Safer Content
The Firefox Browser has built in tracking protection. That makes it harder for politicians, advertisers, and disinformation disseminators to find you. And with the free Facebook container extension, you can isolate your Facebook session from everything else you do online. More privacy means more democracy.
— IRL: Democracy and the Internet
A Lot is At Stake
There are more serious issues than familiarity when choosing a browser.
Google controls about 62% of mobile browsers, 69% of desktop browsers, and the operating systems on 71% of mobile devices in the world.
92% of internet searches go through Google and 73% of American adults use YouTube.
Google runs code on approximately 85% of sites on the Web and inside as many as 94% of apps in the Play store.
It collects data about users' every click, tap, query, and movement from all of those sources and more.
This Google monopoly now threatens the future of the open Web.
An Open Internet Promotes Innovation
Most of today's big Internet companies wouldn't exist today without a free and open Internet. Startups are in no position to compete with established Fortune 500 companies for limited bandwidth.
Fund Those Working for an Open Internet
Consider funding the organizations working to support a free and open Internet.
- OpenMedia works directly to educate people about these issues and to influence those that can make changes.
- Mozilla stands up for a healthy internet for all. Mozilla Firefox is the only major independent browser that protects and respects your private information.
Retain a Free & Open Internet
Police are already piling on the pressure for new laws to force you to reveal all of your digital passwords. Telecom giants are jacking up the price of Internet at 5 times the rate of inflation, and Big Media wants to use the upcoming copyright review to turn our Internet into Cable TV 2.0.
Retain the current open Internet we currently experience and have taken for granted since we began to use it.
More about Net Neutrality:
- Net neutrality 101: What you need to know to survive the next 6+ months of debate.
- The FCC's case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the Internet works.
- Infographic: 15 facts about net neutrality.
- FCC proposal would end net neutrality as we know it.
- Why support net neutrality and the open Internet.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation has blog posts and more about net neutrality.
- Save the Internet contains links and articles about net neutrality.