Tag Archives: net neutrality

Rex Murphy: Where to Spend?

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Rex Murphy, host of the national CBC show called "Cross Country Checkup", is asking Canadians tonight where they should spend their money.

You can all hang up.  I have the top 10 answers.

  1. Stop spending any more money on fossil fuels or things that burn fossil fuels.  It’s stupid.
  2. Understand that we have an opportunity to institute structural change:  invest in green and invest lots.  Renewable fuels & energy.  Solar retrofits & geothermal installs.
  3. Infrastructure, but think in terms of "downtown" and the future.  Light rail transit.  Bike lanes in green spaces.  Fewer roads outside of the core.  And for the city of London (where I am), several over/underpasses so the city doesn’t get choked off by trains.
  4. Cut spending on defense to balance any potential deficit spending.  The $500 billion that is planned by the Harper government has never come into question and should.  Why do we spend that money on enterprises that, in large part, aren’t even Canadian?  Because we’re stupid and we’ve bought into the ‘feat factory’.
  5. Spend a minimum fixed dollar amount on every single city with a population that’s greater than 100,000 people.  I suggest $100,000,000. Those that have been spending their money wisely can invest in new projects or reducing property taxes.  Those that don’t can at least avoid slashing desparately needed social programs and public infrastructure.
  6. Spend a pro-rata amount for cities larger than 100,000 people.  The more people, particularly that are in your downtown core, the more money you get.
  7. Stop insisting that projects be given to the private sector first.  It’s a sure way to add 20-30% to the bottom line and cost of new projects and it’s a waste of public money.
  8. Make a massive public investment in the communications network.  Bell Canada is doing a very poor job of running it, so Canada should have a new and exceptionally efficient public pipe that anyone can use without being throttled or facing lack of net neutrality.
  9. Create a massive public investment in co-ops, non-profits and socially responsible organizations that are committed to the future of this planet.  If it’s not part of their mandate, they don’t get a cent!
  10. Fire at least 18 Senators.

There.  Easy.  Now go to it, Jim!

Broadband Tax?

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The RIAA has recently settled a number of actions related to DRM issues.  However, don’t expect them to stop.  This blog has pointed out (and rightly so) that we should expect the RIAA to start to lobby the US government to impose a blanket broadband tax to penalize everyone for pirates.

A similar thing was tried by the Canadian version of the RIAA.  Here’s a Slashdot story (there are some great discussions there and are worth reading). Given that it was as late as Dec 2008, it’s obvious that SOCAN and ACTRA are still trying to make this work.  By the way, the core info source for all of this is Michael Geist .

I’m opposed to this kind of measure.  Once you agree to a tax on broadband use for the music industry, you immediate suffocate the use of the web.  More importantly, you provide precedent for every other whiner to say, ‘hey, I’m losing money to because of that damn interweb thingy.  Where do I line up for my hand out?’  Video game producers.  TV shows.  Music companies.  Journalists.  Newspaper publishers.  Thousands of other organizations will be knocking on the doors of government expecting a handout.

Let’s talk about the real issue for a moment.  All of the major publishers of content are suffering because people aren’t paying attention to them any more.  Whether you’re a big label selling new pop ‘idols’ or a newspaper or TV network that’s censoring important news, you’re suffering because you can’t shape opinion as easily as you used to.  This sucks for these folks because they’re no longer able to manipulate the public the way they want to.

So they lobby to have the Internet ‘shaped’.

The emergence of digital media as competition to analog thinking is a massive issue and will have an impact on how all of us use the Internet.  Copyright rules and content control are superficial arguments for keeping the cash-flow strong with Canada’s mainstream media.  We already see it with restrictions on access to sites like Hulu in order to appease the CTVs and Global’s of the world and we’ll see much, much more in the future.

One day, the RIAA, SOCAN and other publishers will realize that the gig is up and that they should try to find a different way to play with the public.

Until they do, I maintain that it’s really important that we all find ways to boycott traditional media outlets (and spread the word).

Last dig:  if we’re going to have a tax on anything, let’s start with a decent carbon tax, OK?

Organizing a Bell / Rogers Media Boycott

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The CRTC recently announced that it will not take action against Bell Canada and Rogers as they throttle users of the Canadian Internet.  They have failed Canadian consumers and the thousands of small businesses and technology concerns that rely on the Internet for their success.

And this article goes so far as to question whether or not Canada’s newly emerging social media network will be able to survive such tactics.

I like to think we are beyond the tipping point and that we WILL be able to overcome this myopic view of the Internet as a cash-cow for Bell and Rogers and not a tool for the wide array of people and organizations that are actively seeking social change.

This issue requires action on behalf of all of us:

  1. Make a donation to SaveOurNet.ca
  2. Contact your MP or Finckenstein at the CRTC
  3. Track efforts to throttle your connection (a wonderful application of the social web)
  4. Update the Canadian Wiki which tracks throttling efforts
  5. Boycott any Bell or Rogers products

It’s the last option that I would like to talk about.

Bell, Rogers and other media companies don’t just deliver Internet, but they also own a wide array of publications and web sites that represent a critical source of revenue for them.

With that in mind, we all have to him them where it will really hurt:  the bottom line.

Eliminating Sympatico, TSN, CTV, MSN, Rogers magazine sites (eg. Chatelaine.com), Yahoo Canada and other affiliated sites is an easy and painless maneuvre and will send a very clear signal that we are very pissed off about this nonsense.  If you’re a buyer or planner and make decisionsof this nature, it’s as easy as deleting a line from your Excel spreadsheet.

Let’s start with this blog, but post your suggestions about the following:

  1. A full list of media properties that these companies control
  2. Products and services that you can cancel
  3. Social actions that will have the greatest impact

Thanks for your help.

Net Neutrality: TV Broadcasters Oppose Whitespace Program

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In the US, TV broadcasters have officially filed their opposition to any plan to leverage available ‘white space’, or unused broadband wireless airwaves for public use.  They argue that transmitting wireless broadband on white spaces could interfere with TV signals.

Original story here.

I’m not an expert in this field, but the claim that airwaves will interfere with broadcasters doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For years, the strategy of cable suppliers has been to hook the cable into homes, creating a network that only they can control.

Now, with public white space, they’re claiming interference, but what would transmissions interfere with if all cable and ‘broadcast’ stations are deliverd through broadcast?

Anyways, that’s a tangent that will probably get me hung up on details that I’m under-informed on.

Instead, what struck me when reading this article is the idea that we should be looking into a similar program here in Canada, but the core consideration being a publicly-run and owned transmission network for broadband that would rival Bell and Rogers.

For a while, I’ve been preaching that the official mandate of the CBC should be expanded to make the Internet a social and public asset so that we don’t face issues like throttling and if we get our act together and elect the right government, maybe we’ll be able to do this.  Don’t expect any miracles with the current government, though 😉

Net Neutrality, the Wireless Auction & The Future of Canada’s Internet

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I’ve been toying with a couple of ideas related to net neutrality in Canada and I’ve developed a few that I’d like you to provide feedback on.

Basically, the background info is this:

  • Net neutrality will never exist in Canada because the ‘pipe’ is owned by Bell Canada, Rogers, Telus, etc
  • The recent wireless spectrum auction generated $4.25 billion for the people of Canada
  • The CBC is facing increased competition from companies that will have questionable Canadian ownership because of private equity deals and institutional owners

What I propose is that the official mandate of the CBC be expanded to include basic Internet services. We should be aggressive with this goal and go so far as to suggest that any Canadian should be able to get unfettered access to DSL services whenever they want without the expectation of being limited in the sites or locations that they can visit (obvious exclusions exist, including porn, gambling, etc).

The CBC has been very innovative with the delivery of some of its content, but its mandate of sharing this content with Canadians is repeatedly threatened by Canada’s telecom giants by throttling and other restrictions placed on services like BitTorrent and other P2P programs.

It’s this threat that necessitates an alternative.

The $4.25 billion generated from the wireless auction should be used to finance this pursuit. It would have two angles:

1. Develop of a ‘pipe’ to accommodate the CBC internet access.
2. Support of Canadian-made online media

With the first item, building a pipe on to the existing one (which is mostly owned and developed by Bell Canada and a number of other private ISPs) would be very impractical because you’d wind up paying more in access fees and ‘renting’ the existing infrastructure.

So … here’s a crazy idea: we contract with power utilities (most of which are publicly owned) and deliver DSL through them. Haven’t heard of Power Line Communications (PLC)? Here’s a little article with Wikipedia to whet your whistle:


Once the DSL problem is solved, any Canadian would be able to set up an account, access the Internet, without threat of speed reduction or other limitations.

Following that, the goal would be to foster and encourage Canadian content. This is easy: there are thousands of blogs, ezines and other sites out there that have never received funding but should. The only caveat: any publication, company or organization that has received Federal funding either from Heritage Canada or the CRTC for TV or print (or even online) is not eligible for new funding.

Obviously, such a program would never come to fruition if the Harper government is in charge, but maybe if we support someone that’s bold enough to pursue this initiative and spend money on Canada rather than tax breaks for non-Canadian companies, we’d all be much better off.

What are your thoughts?