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Canadian ISPs Fight Back, Again 200

jenningsthecat writes "With the recent CRTC decision giving Canadian telcos such as Bell and Telus the legal right to deny third-party ISPs access to their infrastructure, smaller Canadian Internet providers are again fighting for their lives, and are asking their customers for help. The ISPs are seeking public support, asking people to go to to send either a form letter or a personalized message to the Industry Minister, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, and optionally the respondent's local Minister of Parliament. If the CRTC's decision is not overturned, approximately 30 ISPs will likely be forced out of business. Competition in the ADSL market will be totally eliminated, and Canadians will have only two choices for wired Internet access: the local Cableco or the local Telco. Given that Canadian taxpayers have heavily subsidized the telcos in multiple ways for several decades, this decision to hand over exclusive control of the keys to the cookie jar hardly seems fair."
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Canadian ISP's Fight Back, Again

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  • Re:Goverment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KraftDinner ( 1273626 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#29541331)
    The problem is the current big ADSL ISP's(Bell and Telus) have a monopoly on their markets(It might be an Oligopoly, I don't know if Bell and Telus compete in the same geographic areas.)
  • Re:Goverment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fredc97 ( 963879 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#29541347)

    If the prices will go too much up, I'm sure customers will be unhappy and there will be new ISP's taking place.

    Have you taught about the price to enter such a market? It is not possible for any new player to come in and create its own infrastructure and try to compete with the Bell, Telus, Rogers & Videotron of the Canadian market which all have huge market share. So yes the CRTC has to come in and legislate and force the market to open up especially since all Telcos have been subsidized over the years by the Canadians.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BassMan449 ( 1356143 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:22PM (#29541373)
    The thing you are missing is that the infrastructure was build with government money. The competition is unfair because the big telco "own" the networks and if you don't have the government forcing them to sell their network capacity to the smaller ISPs then they will stop selling to the ISP or sell at high rates and then sell at low rates to their customers. This will put all the smaller ISPs out of business and once they are gone the big telco can jack up their prices because they have no competition.
  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheBilgeRat ( 1629569 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:25PM (#29541411)
    Monopoly, American style!

    Seriously, O Canada, don't emulate us on this one. America needs the "Crazy Uncle" to the north to provide some alternatives to business as usual.
  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:27PM (#29541445) Homepage Journal

    Frankly, if I were Bell and the CRTC said I could do so, I would stop offering wholesale internet altogether immediately.

    What business wouldn't love the opportunity to instantly and permanently kill all its competitors except those on completely different lines? Why adjust prices when you can just kill them off?

  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:28PM (#29541451)

    But the government has given these companies a monopoly over the infrastructure. If the government granted you the same monopoly then it's not a matter of your freedom to set your own prices, it's a matter of your obligation to the government and the public for being granted that monopoly.

    If the prices will go too much up, I'm sure customers will be unhappy and there will be new ISP's taking place.

    What new ISP's? The existing ones have a, say it with me, monopoly. A government granted (and enforced) monopoly at that.

    I think you've completely missed the entire issue here. The government historically regulated the prices and forced these ISP's to open up their lines to allow true competition so that the unhappy customers could go to a new ISP. But now they're allowing these ISP's to set the prices for their competitors. They're forced to sell access to their network (due to their monopoly status), previously they were forced to do so in such a way that other ISPs could compete with them, but now they can just set such a high price that their offering is the cheapest on the market, driving the smaller ISP's out of business.

  • by spammeister ( 586331 ) <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:28PM (#29541455)
    I had a passing interest of the issues at large and I find this decision disturbing, considering our tax dollars paid for this service in the first place!

    I consider myself lucky that in my area, the cableco isn't big and mean (Eastlink), and Telus is (AFAIK) the only telco for ADSL in my area, which I would never in a million years use.

    How many shenanigans and payola are Rogers and Bell throwing at the CRTC anyways?
  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:33PM (#29541517)

    There won't be new ISP's taking their place because you can't run a second set of cables throughout the city/region/whatever at a competitive price. Because the previous guys got subsidized.

    Possibly you can't do so at any cost because the previous guys where granted exclusive rights or because it's politically impossible to get permission now. Though that's irrelevant due to not being able to afford it if you could anyway.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#29541573) Journal

    >>>Companies should be allowed to sell their services at a price they want

    Yes except those companies are government-granted monopolies, like the power company, the piped natural gas company, or the Internet service company. Then the government, since it granted the monopoly, also has the right to control its pricing.

  • by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#29541583)

    Signed, the USofA.

    Very few of us down here have any choice for broadband other than the duopoly of telco/cable, and both providers are usually some combination of pillaging our wallets and skimping on service.

    Just maybe, you can head this off.

    Good Luck!

  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:41PM (#29541607) Journal

    Very true. Just like the power company and the piped natural-gas company are regulated, so too does the Internet service company need to be regulated. Since the government granted these monopolies, it also has the right to control their pricing.

  • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:43PM (#29541635)

    If the infrastructure was built with government money, why doesn't the infrastructure belong to the government?

    Do the big telco companies lease the infrastructure from the government? If so, can't little telco's also lease it?

    How do the telcos own the infrastructure?

  • Corruption and lobbying.

  • Re:Bigger picture! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hidden ( 135234 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:52PM (#29541745)

    Umm ...What?
    Shaw and Telus may be entangled somewhere way up on the upstream side, but the local wiring in the city is completely different. Telus is a DSL provider, and Shaw is a Cable provider.

    Perhaps you're thinking of Bell and Telus?

  • Re:Goverment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim4444 ( 1122173 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:04PM (#29541869)
    It would be absolutely fine to ask the government to butt out if these companies hadn't been taking fat government subsidies to develop the infrastructure they need for those services. I think the government deserves to have a return (in the form of a competitive free market) on its investment. Giving select companies exclusive control over publicly funded projects means the government picked the winners instead of the free market.

    Let me put it another way. If a government pays a company to build a bridge, does it mean that company should be able to charge whatever toll it wants for people to use it?

    Public investment should be for the public good - not selective corporate welfare.
  • Re:Bigger picture! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:04PM (#29541879) Journal

    From your physical house, yes, Shaw will handle the cable, Telus will handle the DSL. As soon as it hits a Shaw building - and it needs to hop outside of the city, it sure ain't over a Shaw Cable, and when it needs to hit a different server inside the city to get outside the city, they go through Telus wiring.

    Similarily Shaw offers Phone services. Telus offers Television services. They both provide the EXACT same services, whatever you want (if you wanted dialup you could still go through Shaw) because the two of them just work together on it.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... .net minus physi> on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:04PM (#29541883) Homepage Journal

    Goverment shouldn't be allowed to tell me that I'm not allowed to sell at a certain price, marketforces will do that.

    Market forces? Is this some kind a a euphemism for monopolies, anti-competitive practices and union busting? Because that's the only context I ever hear it used in.

    Wake up. Wake up you and all the other "free market" drones around here. The "Free market" does not, has not and will not ever exist. Period. It is a pipe dream concocted from the ramblings of economists, most of whom were in the employ of powerful groups who would like nothing better than a free hand to do as they please in any sector of the economy or society in general. It is, at best and idealised theoretical utopia, worthy only of consideration as a thought experiment. If that.

    In reality, you cannot separate economics from the general deviousness, manipulation, underhandedness and skullduggary that goes on in almost every walk of human life. People game system and companies, especially big companies, will game the system up to and quite often past the point where they can get away with it. In this reality, on this planet Earth, your free market theories are about as applicable as theories of anti-matter.

    The big telco's are going to degrade service, cripple and destroy all competition, punitively raise prices and in general wreck the whole internet unless there is strong government regulation in place to prevent them from doing so. Platitudes about the efficiency of private industry and the prices "the market" will bear are just that. Platitudes, carrying no more weight than a dry tissue. History, and indeed recent events, have demonstrated quite conclusively that no major industry can be left to its own devices, ever . It simply does not work. The prime, prime, prime example was the recent financial crash. But there are many other examples across all industries.

    The internet is now one of the foundations of our society and we cannot allow it to be held to ransom by a handful of individuals hiding behind corporate veils and pandering economics.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:16PM (#29542055)
    What about the heavy tax payer subsidizing that helped pay for that infrastructure?
  • by Deadplant ( 212273 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:23PM (#29542131)

    Gah, this crap is so tiring.

    Any new regulation can only be a band-aid solution.

    The correct solution is to break the monopolies by creating a free market.

    Municipal public fibre optic infrastructure.

    Layer 2 (maybe even layer 1) service to every building as a public service.
    Access to that infrastructure with the same access rules we use for the roads.
    (In other words, completely open for private and commercial use)

    with a fibre bundle to every home any service provider who wanted to provide Internet, TV, Telephone or any other innovative service could go to the municipal exchange and patch us in to their gear.

    This would set the stage for a vibrant competitive market for telecoms.
    It would allow private, non-commercial telecoms activities.
    It would be CHEAPER than running cable and copper to every building as we do now.
    It would be future-proof because the fibre has effectively unlimited capacity.

    There is already great competition for IP service, the Internet is a vibrant market place except for the last mile.
    Go to any public exchange and shop for IP transit and you will have dozens of providers competing for your business.
    Throttling, DNS hijacking, p2p filtering.... these are exclusively last-mile monopoly problems.

    We all know that last-mile telecoms infrastructure is a natural monopoly just like power lines, roads and sewers.
    So why don't we stop beating around the bush creating heavily regulated and subsidized private monopolies then constantly fighting with them and just run the last-mile ourselves?

  • Re:Goverment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:42PM (#29542337)

    Of course, if you did that, then the CRTC would immediately be deluged with complaints, leaving them with no choice but to recant their decision. It's better to boil the frog slowly, so nobody notices anything's wrong until it's too late.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archfeld ( 6757 ) * <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @03:07PM (#29542599) Journal

    They 'OWN' a network subsidized by public funds on land granted by public right of ways providing what has become a CRITICAL infrastructure, there should be no question of whether the government has the right to regulate, it should be MANDATED. How many businesses would be out of the water without the NET these days. Could a local government even function WITHOUT THE ONLINE ACCESS TO RESOURCES ?
    I happen to own the right of way behind the houses on my block that was used/granted to AT&T when they were the cable monopoly around here. AT&T has since relocated their wires underground and no longer uses the right of way, but several other companies WHO WERE NOT on the original agreement still do. Astound cable, after some convincing offered me free service, which I accepted, they are my net provider now, but I am demanding the removal of ALL other lines and equipment under the basis that they were never given legal authorization. AT&T decided that their usage meant they had a right to lease out that same space, which they did not have the right to do. My first court date was postponed by request of the defendants lawyers after they realized I was serious, had a lawyer, the deed the land in question, and the ORIGINAL copy of the agreement with AT&T. I am so glad my parents were organized and had good foresight.

  • Re:Goverment (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @04:55PM (#29543977)

    Very true. Just like the power company and the piped natural-gas company are regulated, so too does the Internet service company need to be regulated. Since the government granted these monopolies, it also has the right to control their pricing.

    No, the running of the infrastructure needs to be regulated (or a co-op). The actual service should be free compete.

    The people running the fibre and copper should only worry about proper investment. The people routing the packets should worry about providing the best IP service they can.

    The two layers should not care about each other (besides not having crumbling infrastructure). The two layers should not be owned by the same parent corporation.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine