We’re live at the CRTC!
We're glued to our screens and we know you are too! Find out below all the ways you can follow us at today's CRTC hearing.
Speaking on behalf of OpenMedia today, is our Executive Director Laura Tribe, Campaigns Director Josh Tabish, Digital Rights Specialist Katy Anderson, and our amazing external counsel Cynthia Khoo. Here’s how to follow all the excitement live:
LIVE BLOG: That's here! Follow along with me as we bring you all the best moments from what’s happening in Gatineau as the morning develops.
LIVE STREAM: CPAC are live-streaming the hearings all week on CPAC 2. It’s free and there’s no need for a cable subscription. You can access their live stream here: http://www.cpac.ca/en/direct/cpac2/
OpenMedia supporters are beginning to arrive in the audience – you'll recognize them by their bright blue t-shirts!
We've begun! Today our team has three simple asks for the Commission:
- Listen to Canadians – citizens are calling for an end to data caps, over 52,000 have already called for this in OpenMedia's online petition. Over 6000 members made detailed comments and you can read them here. Thousands of reddit users also spoke up against zero-rating, and in favour of an end to data caps.
- Aim higher for Canada's future – resolving the root problem of data caps will incentivize more investment in Canada's telecom infrastructure and networks. If we want to build a world-class telecommunications system, we need to focus on this sort of innovation, rather than continuing the "cash-grab" of data caps.
- Protect innovation for all – data caps and anti-competitive behaviour like zero-rating stymie innovation and make the Internet more like cable TV. Instead, we want an Internet where all innovators are encouraged to bring their ideas to the world, without unnecessary gatekeepers.
Now on to questions from the Commissioners!
Jean-Pierre Blais: You're asking us to listen to Canadians...is it your view that we're not?
Cynthia Khoo: No, we just wanted to make sure.
Very cheeky, Cynthia. And our Executive Director Laura Tribe backs her up:
Laura Tribe: We're hearing a lot of loud voices from ISPs and their lawyers, and we want to make sure that they're not drowning out the voices of individual Canadians.
Jean-Pierre Blais asks the OpenMedia team what "keeping pace with technology" looks like in a pragmatic sense. Our Laura Tribe has a great response.
It is nearly impossible to tell how much Internet Canadians want, or would actually use, in a world where we are being submitted to punitive data caps. Canadians have been telling us that they are self-censoring their Internet usage because they are afraid of going over their data caps. Without these caps, we will have a much better sense of the needs of Internet users.
How much does it cost to deliver a gigabyte of data? The answer to this question is critical to deciding what a reasonable price for Internet access, data and even – heaven forbid! – roaming charges. However, Big Telecom is reticent to release this information. Could it be because the cost is mere pennies per GB?
A word about differential pricing, AKA: zero-rating. In asking after the difference between zero-rating across different devices and platforms, Laura makes an excellent point: the device you are using to connect to the Internet should not in any way alter the experience.
But what about zero-rating for socially important causes, asks Blais. Importantly, we don't want to be putting our Internet Service Providers, or the CRTC in the position of deciding what constitutes a 'socially important cause'. And, importantly, if there were no data caps to worry about, individuals would be able to choose for themselves which services they needed – and which services were socially important to them.
Now on to the question about offering discounts and deals. Why, Jean-Pierre Blais asks, is it not okay for our telecom companies to offer zero-rating 'discounts' when all sorts of other products and services are able to offer some sort of a deal to their customers.
This is an important one! The Internet, and all the things it facilitates – including critical services like banking, access to health, and education – are not like going to the movies and getting a free bucket of popcorn. Cynthia Khoo hits the nail on the head with this statement:
A red herring: the Internet of Things. In Bell Canada Inc.'s presentation to this hearing, they placed a lot of emphasis on the Internet of Things – smart refrigerators and light bulbs – that are connected to the Internet. And what about zero-rating those uses of the Internet? ('Can we do that?' – they asked, breathlessly.)
At the end of the day, zero-rating access to 'Internet of Things' devices is no different than giving free access to any other website or service. Much like zero-rating things like movie or music streaming apps, this kind of interference would preference people towards some services and devices over others, and would serve to hamper innovation in this new category of innovation. We're still not down for that.
Wow! What a whirlwind everyone! Thanks to all of our supporters who came out in person to be the face of OpenMedia's campaign to end data caps and zero-rating, and to all of you following along online.
We made an excellent case to the CRTC Commissioners, answering even the toughest of questions and providing details we're sure they'll be mulling over in the coming weeks and months as they consider the possible outcomes of this critical hearing.
If you missed it, we'll make sure to capture the entire presentation and post it here so you can watch later!
And in the meantime, if you haven't signed our petition to End Data Caps, what are you waiting for? Join us, and be a part of history.