We Cannot Apply Constraints to Communication?

Is the public winners in decisions that “add more cost” to what should be access to “freedoms of information?”

The Cathedral and the Bizarre by Jeff Lewis

The problem there is that the ‘capitalist trench’ problem is just as real in OpenSource as it is in commerical product: once a group buys into a specific solution, the cost of changing grows with time. That’s true even if the software is ‘free’ because the maintenance costs and time to convert to another solution are not (link now dead)

This entry is in my view, one of a correlating experience about what was once “Netscape and Microsoft and the platforms”  from which one could assume to operate their computers.

This was the battle between Microsoft and Netscape now under the title of the “Cathedral and the Bizarre,”  by Eric Raymond, now in book form. It wasn’t so sometime ago as shown above when I read of this history under a Macopinion.com link.


Steve Wozniak talks about the open Internet and net neutrality at the FCC

I was also taught that space, and the moon, were free and open. Nobody owned them. No country owned them. I loved this concept of the purest things in the universe being unowned.Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak – Steve Wozniak is a computer engineer who co-founded Apple Computer, Inc. with Steve Jobs. He created the Apple I and Apple II series computers in the mid-1970s. After earning the National Medal of Technology in 1985, Wozniak left Apple to work on various business and philanthropic ventures.

To whom it may concern:

The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP’s should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don’t destruct them. I don’t want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today’s Internet.Steve Wozniak to the FCC: Keep the Internet Free


An Open letter Concerning a Not-So-Open Internet


As I turn on my computer to begin this letter, I log into Windows and receive a notification that an update is available for Java. Something I’ve seen a hundred times before and never really given much thought to. But this time something else crosses my mind; how big is the update? How much data will be downloaded to my computer? I read each of the prompts that come up on my screen, a little more closely than previously, looking for some indication of file size, but I see nothing. I go ahead with the update, but not without some concern. The issue? Something as simple as a software update on my computer may actually end up costing me money.

The new Usage Based Billing systems coming into place with the big Internet Providers in Canada will mean a lot more restriction and monitoring of the things we do every day. Products we have already paid for, services we have already subscribed to (along with their monthly or annual bills) will now be subject to overage fees, adding more cost onto what we already pay. Where we could once pay a single monthly bill for our internet, we will now be paying not only the bill, but also the extra fees for having used more data than the Internet Service Providers think we should be using.

I have a few internet connected devices in my home aside from just a computer. Most Canadians would agree that a household with a single computer used simply for checking email and doing online banking is no longer the norm in our society. When most people hear talk of “large downloads” and Internet Providers cracking down on “excessive users”, to most this brings up thoughts of people using file sharing, or peer-to-peer programs to share music and movies across the internet. But with the prevalence of so many internet connected devices found in almost every home, and with legitimate online video and music streaming services being introduced, “large downloads” is something that now applies to everyone, whether they fully realize it or not.

I have an Xbox360. I use it to watch videos, play online multiplayer games with friends, download game demos, and to purchase and download full games through Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. As my monthly bandwidth allotment from my Internet Provider disappears, I will simply stop using it. I have already paid for my Xbox, the use of the online service through my Xbox Live Gold account, the games themselves, and for my internet access. With Usage Based Billing I will be expected to pay yet again if I don’t monitor my usage closely enough.
I should not be paying more for services that I already pay for.

This does not only apply to people with Xbox 360’s, but also to anyone with a Sony Playstation or a Nintendo Wii in their home. It would be safe to assume that the majority of people in this country that have an internet connection have at least one of these gaming devices in their home. Even if it’s in your son’s or daughter’s room and you never actually use it yourself, it’s the same as any other computer connected to your home network. We paid for them, in some cases we pay extra for the fuller online experience, and now we will be expected to pay yet again, each month, due to these new bandwidth restrictions. Higher monthly bills will result in people placing more restrictions on usage, watching their bandwidth meter, making sure they’ll be able to afford their internet bill for the month.

I don’t use it myself, but I know there are a number of people that purchase music, movies and television shows through Apple’s iTunes. Having paid for your videos, perhaps in High Definition format, downloading them, and then being charged again at the end of the month due to the size of the videos themselves, is completely unfair.
I subscribe to Netflix. I have been using it on both my home computers and my Xbox. Although now with the new changes coming into effect, when I find a movie on Netflix I want to watch, I’ll be checking to see how much more, on top of the fee I have already paid to Netflix, the movie might end up costing me. Again, paying more for services that I already pay for.

I use an online backup service called Crashplan. All of my computer files are backed up daily to their secure servers, leaving me the peace of mind that if our home was broken into or anything was destroyed in a fire, all of my files and programs would be safe. Already paying an annual fee for the service, I may well have to give up this peace of mind in order to keep my internet bill at an affordable level.
As an addition to this full online backup service, I also use a service called Dropbox. This enables me to keep certain files in sync across all of my computers, as well as my Smartphone. A very handy and reliable service, but also one that uses data over my home internet connection. Again, I pay an annual fee for this service, but may end up being charged even more on top of that as a result of the new Usage Based Billing.

I use Last.fm. This is an online radio service that customizes radio stations for me based on my listening habits. I sometime have it playing for most of the day as I do things around the house, but this will have to stop, as I can’t risk the constant data stream pushing my internet bill up and up.

I have friends that use VoIP services; Voice over IP (internet telephone, as opposed to the normal telephones most are familiar with). These services, such as Vonage and Skype, eliminate the need for an extra telephone bill in their homes, and provide long distance savings. But with the overage fees charged by the Internet Providers, they will no longer be the money saving services they were meant to be.

In addition to the PC’s, laptops, and the Xbox I have in my house, I also have a Smartphone. I recently made the switch to an Android based phone, but this will also apply to anyone who has an iPhone, Blackberry, or any other internet enabled phone that can connect to a Wi-Fi network. When at home I keep my phone connected to my home Wi-Fi. Anyone who has a Smartphone knows that these devices transmit a fair amount of data; keeping email, calendar and contacts in sync, various Apps that update in the background at set intervals, downloading new Apps, and, as with most Smartphone’s today, the majority are more than capable of streaming video from YouTube and a number of other online services. With the new Usage Based Billing, my phone is one more device connected to my network when at home, using up the limited bandwidth, and eventually costing me even more by the end of the month.

There are also certain things that are harder to control in our online world when it comes to data consumption; Windows Update is a perfect example. These are the fixes issued by Microsoft for their Windows Operating System that, in most people’s cases, download and install automatically in the background. The only User intervention required is after the updates are finished installing, you get that familiar prompt that your system needs to be restarted. And so the questions: how much data was downloaded during this process? If you were already very close to your monthly bandwidth allowance, did this push you over? Did these updates actually end up costing you more money? The last time I installed my copy of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook), I remember a number of updates being required through Windows Update, and they were not small in size. Having already purchased the software, I don’t believe I should be charged again for installing the necessary upgrades.

As careful as you might be in regards to the data being transferred in your household, making sure the next bill to come in is within the affordable range, things like background updates for your Operating System, as well as any Anti-Virus and Spyware programs you may be using (on each of the PC’s in your home, mind you), and other updates for any of the software installed on your computer, will also be added to your total data consumption. I’ll admit, these software updates, each on their own, are usually not very large, and so it would be easy to dismiss them. But when added together with the web surfing, online banking and shopping, emailing, Youtubing, Facebooking, video/audio streaming, online gaming (on PC or console), and all the other random data transfer that we have never really had to think too much about in the past, this adds up. And the higher the data consumption climbs, the higher the bill will be at the end of the month.

I certainly don’t like the idea, nor do I think it’s fair, that at the end of any given month, I might find myself very close to the bandwidth allotment given to me, and having to decide if uploading that new video to Facebook is worth an extra dollar or two on my internet bill, or having to weigh the cost of emailing the photos I took at Christmas to my family. Why should my Internet Provider get to cash in on things that are supposed to be free? I already pay for my internet access, as I always have, but now that will not be enough. In order to keep my bill at a reasonable level I will be expected to monitor the usage of every internet connected device in my home (including friends that might stop by with their laptop, netbook or Smartphone), and in some cases will be forced to eliminate certain things and cancel certain services altogether.
It is not too late to change this. As with this letter, there are ways of making sure people are informed about this issue and how, in the end, it will affect their daily lives. The companies and service providers, like the ones I mentioned above, should also be made aware, that if things continue down this road they will in fact be losing customers, as a lot of us will simply not be able to afford their services due to the extra fees being charged by our Internet Providers.

Our society is evolving. Online services and connected devices have become an integral part of our daily lives, for both work and pleasure. The cost of these devices and services is something we weigh at the time of purchase, but now there will be an additional factor to consider; how much more will I have to pay each month to my Internet Provider in order to use them?
If you’re looking for a way to make this issue known, and to show your support, sign the Stop The Meter petition and encourage your contacts/customers to do the same.

Sign here:

If you are a part of an organization please endorse and otherwise support the Stop The Media campaign. You can reach OpenMedia.ca, the organization running the campaign, by emailing: contact@openmedia.ca

D. Scott

This letter composed with Google Documents. Online. Using bandwidth.

This entry was posted in Internet, Spectrum, Usage Based Billing, White Space, YouTube. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to We Cannot Apply Constraints to Communication?

  1. Plato says:

    Similarly, an Internet service provider can use bandwidth throttling to reduce the impact of specific services or applications, such as the BitTorrent protocol, and could also potentially use it to provide preferential bandwidth access to higher priority users at peak times.Bandwith Throttling

  2. Plato says:

    Throttling is a crime? Analysis: The White Lies ISPs Tell About Broadband Speeds By Art Reisman, CTO, APconnections (www.netequalzer.com) In a recent PC Magazine article, writer Jeremy Kaplan did a fantastic job of exposing the true Internet access speeds of the large consumer providers. He did this by creating a speed test that measured the throughput of continuous access to popular Web sites like Google, Expedia, and many others. Until this report was published, the common metric for comparing ISPs was through the use of the numerous Internet speed test sites available online. The problem with this validation method was that it could not simulate real speeds encountered when doing typical Web surfing and downloading operations. Plus, ISPs can tamper with the results of speed tests — more on this later. When I saw the results of PC Magazine’s testing, I was a bit relieved to see that the actual speeds of large providers was somewhere between 150 Kbit/s and 200 Kbit/s. This is a far cry from the two, three or even four megabit download speeds frequently hyped in ISP marketing literature.

  3. Plato says:

    Today Finland officially becomes first nation to make broadband a legal right Starting today (July 1), every Finnish citizen now has a guaranteed legal right to a least a 1Mbps broadband connection, putting it on the same footing as other legal rights in the country such as healthcare and education. As we reported last year, Finland was the first nation in the world to pass this type of legislation, followed by Spain in November. The Finish government has promised guaranteed speeds of 100Mbps by 2015 for all of its citizens, and currently about 97% of Finns already have access to broadband connections. As our @Zee mentioned last year: “the fast growth of technology has led the European Commission to bring forward a review of the basic telecoms services Europeans can expect.”Today Finland officially becomes first nation to make broadband a legal right

  4. Plato says:

    Finally, I want to applaud and thank FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the other commissioners, and the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology for their leadership in advancing this important issue. And, thanks to the more than 20,000 of you who took a stand on this issue through our Free the Airwaves campaign, the FCC heard a clear message from consumers: these airwaves can bring wireless Internet to everyone everywhere.A vote for broadband in the "white spaces"Posted by Larry Page, Co-Founder and President of Products Wednesday, November 5, 2008

  5. Wozniak, Great! He's definitely one of the 8 Rich people who [aren't exactly terrible], right? Thanks, Plato.

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